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UNITED STATES v. ORLEANS ET AL.

June 1, 1976

UNITED STATES
v.
ORLEANS ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Burger, Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist, and Stevens.

Author: Burger

[ 425 U.S. Page 809]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents the question whether a community action agency funded under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 is a federal instrumentality or agency for purposes of Federal Tort Claims Act liability.

I

Title II of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 516, as amended, 81 Stat. 690, 42 U.S.C. § 2781 et seq., was passed to "stimulate a better focusing of all available local, State, private, and Federal resources upon the goal of enabling low-income families, and low-income individuals... to become fully self-sufficient." 42 U.S.C. § 2781 (a). To this end the Act "provides for community action agencies and programs, prescribes the structure and describes the functions of community action agencies and authorizes financial assistance to community action programs and related projects and activities." Ibid.

Under the statute a community action agency is a "State or political subdivision of a State... or a public or private nonprofit agency or organization which has been designated by a State or such a political subdivision..." and which is "capable of planning, conducting, administering and evaluating a community action program...." 42 U.S.C. § 2790 (a). A community action program "includes or is designed to include... a range of services and activities having a measurable and potentially major impact on causes of poverty in the community...." Ibid.

The Warren-Trumbull Council for Economic Opportunity, Inc., is a community action agency; it is a nonprofit corporation incorporated under § 1702.01 et seq. of the Ohio Revised Code. At the time of this suit, the

[ 425 U.S. Page 810]

     Warren-Trumbull Council received all of its monetary resources from the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), the federal agency established to administer the Economic Opportunity Act.*fn1 The Council also received local "in-kind" contributions and was empowered to receive funding from other sources. The "in-kind" contributions supply the 20% local support which each community action agency must receive to qualify for federal grants. 42 U.S.C. § 2812 (c).

One of the activities of the Warren-Trumbull Council was the Westlawn Neighborhood Opportunity Center (Westlawn), established under 42 U.S.C. § 2811. Westlawn sponsored a recreational outing for a group of children. The Warren-Trumbull Council furnished a van for the outing. Since the van was not large enough to transport all the children, employees of the Council arranged for two young men from the Westlawn area to drive some of the children to and from the outing in privately owned automobiles. Respondent Joseph V. Orleans was one of the children on the outing who, while returning in one of the private cars, was injured when the car collided with a parked truck.

The injured boy and his father, having exhausted their administrative remedies, sued the United States in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346 (b) and 2671 et seq., alleging that agents of the United States in charge of the outing were negligent in its organization and supervision. The United States moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. ...


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