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68 UCLA L. Rev. 288 (2021-2022)
Cages and Compensatory Damages: Suing the Federal Government for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

handle is hein.journals/uclalr68 and id is 296 raw text is: Cages and Compensatory Damages: Suing the Federal
Government for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Brendan Joseph Pratt
The Trump Administration's zero-tolerance, family separation policy tore thousands of children
from their parents. Federal law enforcement officers at the border have caged infants and returned
traumatized teenagers to parents only after long periods of detention. The government frustrated
family reunification efforts, perhaps indefinitely, by losing children in the social services system.
The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) is a theory of liability that could
vindicate these families' claims for justice. Moreover, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) allows
litigants to penetrate sovereign immunity and sue the government for compensatory damages.
This Comment argues that an IIED cause of action is the ideal litigation vehicle for restoring the
personal and economic dignity for victims of the family separation policy. Contrary to some
concerns, this Comment argues why an IIED cause of action is not barred by statutory exceptions
to the waiver of sovereign immunity. It assesses the viability of asylum seekers' IIED claims in
federal court. And it explores how courts have historically undervalued the trauma of people of
color who seek refuge within our borders.
J.D., Critical Race Studies, UCLA School of Law, Class of 2021; B.A. English & American Literature,
New York University, 2011. Articles Editor, UCLA Law Review; Senior Production Editor, UCLA
Criminal Justice Law Review. First and foremost, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to
Professor Seana Shiffrin for her brilliant instruction, invaluable feedback, and limitless warmth
and patience. Next, I would like to thank all of my classmates in the Academic Legal Writing
seminar. I remain astonished by your genius, talent, and encouragement. You have all made me
a better writer, editor, and student of the law. I owe a considerable debt to the UCLA Law Review's
executive board and staff. Thank you for taking a chance on a nascent academic legal writer. Your
inexhaustible focus, scholarly curiosity, and overwhelming support are a true inspiration. I would
like to dedicate this project to the loved ones who supported me unconditionally throughout my
law school journey: the heroes of my life, my mother, Grace, and my brother, Spencer; my father
figure, Curtis Tom; my godparents Ilene and James Harker; and my partner Isabella and the entire
Leon-Chambers family. Also, thank you to the cherished spirit of my father Tom Pratt, who taught
me to be gentle and to write truly. Finally, I would like to dedicate this Comment to my brave

68 UCLA L. REV. 288 (2021)

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