Monday, April 8, 2013

Three Ways to Sue the Government

     There are actions one can take when the government causes harm without good reason.  (Is there ever a good reason for causing harm?  I guess I've taken the Hippocratic oath seriously.)
     The statutes of limitations narrow the time frame within which a notice and lawsuit can be filed against anyone, including the government.  When a statute runs out, a legal claim is no longer valid.  In California, the statute for filing a claim against the government is six months--barely time to get one's bearings, after an attack.  Maybe it's good Florida is a "slow" state.  (Florida ranked #49 in average IQ compared with other states, according to a measure taken after G. W. Bush's reelection.)  Most claims in Florida have two to five-year statutes.
     Florida Statute Sec. 768.28 gives a person three years to file notice, and four years to file claims against government entities.  Tort claims against individuals are governed by Florida Statute Sec. 95.11 and are five years for breach of contract (such as leases) and four years for false arrest, negligence and fraud, and two years for slander.   Personal injury cases have a four-year statute.  But these are statutes for people suing other people, not the government.
     Some government cases have no statutes of limitations.  For example, the USA Patriot Act:  statues of limitations for indicting and prosecuting individuals who are considered a "threat" to the United States are unlimited.  This means that if the government has decided you're a threat to the country (recall that criteria for declaring someone a threat seem minimal-- belonging to a peace movement or advocating for labor unions was considered enough cause for agents to raid homes in the midwest, not long ago, under the Patriot Act) a federal prosecutor could indict you at any time for the rest of your life.
     There's a cloud over my head, since the raid on my clinic.  And the clock for some statutes hasn't even started ticking, I guess.  I can't know whether the statutes start running from the time a crime was (supposedly) committed, or from the date of an indictment.  Therefore, I've been thinking about how to file a claim against the government.  It's not easy:  the government, being all of us, in an idealistic sense, can't be sued because it would be be like suing oneself.  That's sovereign immunity.
     Still, there are three types of claims I could file: 
          1)  A Bivens complaint against specific agents, who raided my clinic and damaged my reputation without sufficient evidence--for violating my constitutional rights.
          2) A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) claim, requiring that the government declare its reasons for the raid and forfeitures of my clinic, and for causing damages.
          3)  A federal tort claim for damages caused by the raid and by subsequent delays in providing information as to the predicates for an attack on my clinic and my professional reputation, which have caused substantial losses.
     Hmm.  What would it take?  What could I gain?  Is it better to do something, than sit around waiting for a government cloud to burst, raining down on me for who knows how long?

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