Mader v. United States

In this appeal concerning the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), 2674, the court determined whether a purported personal representative could invoke the adjudicatory capacity, that is, the subject-matter jurisdiction of a United States District Court on behalf of statutory beneficiaries if, under section 2675(a), the representative failed or refused to first present to the appropriate federal agency evidence of her authority to act on behalf of such beneficiaries. As a preliminary matter, the court held that when faced with conflicting panel opinions, the earliest opinion must be followed "as it should have controlled the subsequent panels that created the conflict." The court held that a properly "presented" claim under section 2675(a) must include evidence of a representative's authority to act on behalf of the claim's beneficiaries under state law. The court also held that conformity with section 2675(a) was a jurisdictional term of the FTCA's limited waiver of sovereign immunity. Since there was no such compliance in this case, the district court properly dismissed the suit for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. The court further held that the personal representative did not have standing to assert the wrongful death claim at issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.