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Reetz v. United States

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20091
Nos. No. 99-1601, 224 F.3d 794/(6th Cir., 08/22/2000)

The court affirms a district court dismissal of an individual's Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) suit against the U.S. Forest Service for injuries incurred while using an off-road vehicle (ORV) on an unmarked road closed to ORVs in the Manistee National Forest in Michigan. The court first holds that the discretionary function exception to the FTCA bars the individual's suit. There was no mandatory regulation or policy that precluded the Forest Service from making a judgment of choice on how to mark the ORV trails. Further, the Forest Service regulation regarding ORV signs confers discretion on the Forest Service. Moreover, the three regulations relied on by the individual respectively do not apply to the Forest Service, do not mandate how trails should be marked, and do not prescribe how marking must be accomplished. In addition, the Forest Service's conduct was the type that the discretionary function exception is designed to shield. The Forest Service's decision not to mark the trail as closed to ORV use was based on various public policy decisions that relied on budgetary, aesthetic, and minimal intrusion principles.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (6 pp., ELR Order No. L-265).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Craig W. Haehnel
Haehnel, Phelan & Liquigli
200 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids MI 49503
(616) 454-3834

Counsel for Defendant
Charles R. Gross, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
330 Ionia Ave. NW, Ste. 501, Grand Rapids MI 49503
(616) 456-2404