PSC Urges Supreme Court to Protect Contractors From Wartime Liability 

Arlington, Va. (Jan. 14, 2022) On January 10, 2022, the Professional Services Council filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief, urging the Supreme Court to review a case advocating for the legal protection of contractors from liability under state law for performing military support functions on foreign battlefields. 

Contractors have previously asked the Supreme Court to address whether the combatant-activities exemption to the Federal Tort Claims Act preempts claims against civilian military contractors, but the Court has yet to address this issue. The U.S. military is immune from such lawsuits, but several courts have allowed private contractors to be sued under state law for performing military support functions. PSC believes that private contractors operating under and complying with contracts in support of military operations should be afforded the same immunity from suit.

The PSC amicus brief states, “The Petition presents an exceptionally important question that should be decided now. The U.S. military relies on private contractors to perform traditional military support functions on the battlefield and to maintain combat readiness. Exposing these battlefield support contractors to the risks of tort liability will undermine the military’s strategic position and ability to conduct warfare.”

“Contractors provide critical surge support for the U.S. Government’s wartime efforts,” said David J. Berteau, PSC’s President and CEO. “They bring capacity, capability, flexibility, and innovation where the military needs it. Their availability enables the military to use uniformed personnel to undertake the missions only they can perform. Many times, these contractors have made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives while serving alongside U.S. military personnel. Exposing contractors to the risk of tort liability can negatively impact the ability of companies to enter into contracts as vetted partners of the military.” 

He continued, “Continued exposure will reduce available resources needed by the U.S. Armed Forces to deter or fight and win wars. Now is the time for the Supreme Court to provide contractors with the same protections afforded the troops they serve alongside.”

Jennifer S. Zucker of Greenberg Traurig, LLP served as counsel to the association on this matter.

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