Massachusetts Bonding Co. v. United States
352 U.S. 128 (1956)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Massachusetts Bonding Co. v. United States, 352 U.S. 128 (1956)

Massachusetts Bonding & Ins. Co. v. United States

No. 31

Argued November 8, 1956

Decided December 10, 1956

352 U.S. 128

Syllabus

In an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, plaintiffs sought damages from the United States for a death alleged to have been caused by the negligence of federal employees in Massachusetts. Under the Massachusetts Death Act, the standard of liability for wrongful death is punitive and the maximum amount recoverable is $20,000. The Tort Claims Act provides that the United States shall not be liable for punitive damages, and that, where the law of the place provides "for damages only punitive in nature," the United States shall be liable for "actual or compensatory damages, measured by the pecuniary injuries resulting from such death."

Held: the amount of damages recoverable from the United States as compensatory damages is not limited to the maximum amount recoverable under the Massachusetts Death Act. Pp. 352 U. S. 128-134.

227 F.2d 385, reversed.

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