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In Smith v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed whether the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia properly dismissed a Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) suit based on the sovereign immunity doctrine. In Smith, the plaintiffs—family members and estate administrators of a father and daughter who died when their vehicle struck neighborhood mailboxes—filed an FTCA claim against the United States alleging that the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) was negligent in failing to inform the mailboxes owners that their mailboxes were not compliant with certain safety regulations. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s dismissal, and held that the plaintiffs could not invoke the federal government’s waiver of sovereign immunity under the FTCA without identifying an underlying state-law duty that would establish liability for a private party engaged in the same conduct.


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