FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471 (1994)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 92-741. Argued October 4, 1993—Decided February 23, 1994

After the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC), as receiver for a failing thrift institution, terminated respondent Meyer from his job as a senior officer of that institution, he filed this suit in the District Court, claiming that his summary discharge deprived him of a property right without due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment. In making this claim, he relied on Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388, 397, in which the Court implied a cause of action for damages against federal agents who allegedly violated the Fourth Amendment. The jury returned a verdict against FSLIC, whose statutory successor, petitioner Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, although the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides the exclusive remedy against the United States for all "claims which are cognizable under [28 U. S. C. ]1346(b)," Meyer's claim was not so cognizable; that the "sue-and-be-sued" clause contained in FSLIC's organic statute constituted a waiver of sovereign immunity for Meyer's claim and entitled him to maintain an action against FSLIC; and that he had been deprived of due process when he was summarily discharged without notice and a hearing.

Held: 1. FSLIC's sovereign immunity has been waived. Pp. 475-483. (a) Meyer's constitutional tort claim is not "cognizable" under 1346(b) because that section does not provide a cause of action for such a claim. A claim is actionable under the section if it alleges, inter alia, that the United States would be liable as "a private person" "in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred." A claim such as Meyer's could not contain such an allegation because the reference to the "law of the place" means law of the State, see, e. g., Miree v. DeKalb County, 433 U. S. 25, 29, n. 4, and, by definition, federal law, not state law, provides the source of liability for a claim alleging the deprivation of a federal constitutional right. Thus, the FTCA does not constitute Meyer's exclusive remedy, and his claim was properly brought against FSLIC. There simply is no basis in the statutory language for the interpretation suggested by FDIC, which would deem all


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