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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Suing the Government (Spring 2018)

  • Course Number: LAW-684
  • Class Number: 03364
  • Instructor: Clare Pastore

Course Description

If the Environmental Protection Agency issues regulations that will make development very expensive, can developers sue the EPA? If the EPA guts regulations protecting rare animals, can environmentalists sue? If a mail carrier hits a pedestrian with her truck, can the pedestrian sue the government? What is the basis of suits against the Trump Administration’s immigration executive orders and who can bring them? Against which defendants? What if a government employee violates your client’s civil rights or your client believes some kind of regulations are unconstitutional, unfairly enforced, or improperly not enforced? If your client is harmed by a drug the government has approved, can you sue the government? These are the sorts of questions that “Suing the Government” will answer.

Civil suits against the federal government occupy a significant portion of the docket of the U.S. federal courts—fully 20% of all federal civil cases in some recent years. Those who sue the government include businesses or industries challenging regulations or enforcement actions, individuals alleging tort, contract, civil rights, or constitutional claims, nonprofits and citizen groups alleging civil rights or environmental violations, etc. This course will cover both the theoretical/doctrinal background of litigation against the government (including sovereign immunity) and the practical aspects of who can sue the government, for what, where, and how. We will cover the primary statutes waiving federal sovereign immunity, including the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Tucker Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, as well as related issues including the award of attorneys’ fees against the government and estoppel against the government. We will also examine suits against the state of California.  


The course is likely to be useful for students interested in working in federal, state or local government, in nonprofit organizations, or in private firms which represent regulated industry clients. 

Course Details

  • Unit Value: 3
  • Grading Options: Numerical Only
  • Schedule: T/Th 9:30 am - 10:45
  • Room Number: Ackerman Courtroom - Room 107
  • Exam: In-class or take-home exam
  • Skills/Experiential Unit Requirement: Yes
  • Participation: Will be considered in grade