FBI Joy Ride Wrecks Ferrari, DOJ Refuses to Pay Damages

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
fbi joy ride wrecks ferrari doj refuses to pay damages

The US Department of Justice is deploying all of its legal muscle to avoid paying the price after an FBI agent destroyed an exotic car during a joy ride. After nearly two years of trying to recover the money owed by the government, Motors Insurance Company filed a lawsuit against the government seeking the full $750,000 value of the wrecked 1995 Ferrari F50.

The vehicle originally had been stolen in 2003 from a Ferrari dealer in Pennsylvania. Motors paid the $630,000 insurance claim, giving the firm title to the missing exotic. On August 12, 2008, the FBI stumbled upon the car in Kentucky during a separate investigation. The agency held the vehicle with permission from Motors. On May 27, 2009, FBI Special Agent Frederick C. Kingston got behind the wheel of a 1995 Ferrari F50 with by Assistant US Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson in the passenger seat.

“Just a few seconds after we left the parking lot, we went around a curve, and the rear of the car began sliding,” Thompson wrote in an email to Managing Assistant US Attorney E.J. Walbourn on the day of the incident. “The agent tried to regain control, but the car fishtailed and slid sideways up onto the curb. The vehicle came to rest against a row of bushes and a small tree. Both myself and the agent exited of our own power.”

A claims adjuster noted the frame was bent, rendering the vehicle — now worth $750,000 in working condition — a total loss. DOJ began stonewalling when Motors tried to get information about what happened. The agency refused to honor a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any documents regarding the storage and use of the vehicle on the day of the accident. The request was denied as “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Motors filed a separate lawsuit to force the disclosure of agency records concerning the Ferrari.

“Based on the denial of Motors Insurance Company’s claim, plaintiff anticipates that DOJ and FBI will claim immunity against civil liability under 28 USC Section 2680(c) and assert that the vehicle was damaged while in the detention of law enforcement authorities,” Motors attorney Richard C. Kraus wrote in an April 14 lawsuit. “The information requested under FOIA and withheld by DOJ and FBI will be necessary to determine whether 28 USC Section 2680(c) applies.”

That is precisely what DOJ has done. The agency insists sovereign immunity prohibits the suit, and no negligence claim can arise because federal law prohibits claims against the government for goods damaged while detained by law enforcement.

“The exception applies to bar suit against the United States and does not permit litigation over the reasonableness of the law enforcement officer’s conduct in question,” Assistant Attorney General Tony West wrote in a May 9 brief to the court. “The broad interpretation of the detention-of-goods exception, coupled with the necessity that the court construe the United States’ waiver of sovereign immunity strictly in favor of the sovereign, require a finding that the United States has not consented to this sort of suit and plaintiff has failed to state a claim under federal law. Accordingly, the United States respectfully requests that the above-captioned action be dismissed with prejudice.”

US District Judge Avern Cohn on Tuesday set a June 22 date for final briefs on the government’s motion to dismiss the suit.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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3 of 23 comments
  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on May 27, 2011

    you would think those people would get a flatbed truck and tow away a car that valuable...

  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on May 27, 2011

    Interesting that the government doesn't have any sort of insurance in case they goof stuff up.

    • Outback_ute Outback_ute on May 30, 2011

      When you can make laws that mean you are not liable for anything, who needs insurance?

  • Bullnuke It may be awhile before these show up on US shores. The MV Fremantle Highway has just started demo/reconstruction in Rotterdam after the large fire when transporting its last shipment of electric Porsche products.
  • Fie on Fiasler Big, fast and thirsty does not equal good. True luxury is not cobbled together by the UAW.
  • Inside Looking Out I see it as gladiator races - only one survives in virtual world.
  • Crown They need to put the EcoDiesel back in the Grand Cherokee. I have a 2018 and it has been the most reliable vehicle I ever owned. 69,000 miles and only needed tires, and regular oil and fuel filter changes.
  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.