Under current law, except for certain generally stated situations, SCORE volunteers are protected under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and are not subject to civil claims or lawsuits connected with SCORE activities and will not be held liable for paying monetary damages. The U.S. government will take over and defend the action and make payments, unless:
- The volunteer is found to have committed the tort while acting outside the scope of SCORE activities. The Act does not cover SCORE volunteers for libel, slander, assault, battery or any discrimination claims. Generally speaking, if the wrong is committed with malice or intent to injure, or if the act is done with such gross negligence as to be willful, the volunteer may be found not to be working for SCORE. The U.S. government believes its employees should have personal responsibility in those instances. SCORE agrees that the same principle should apply to SCORE volunteers.
- The volunteer is found to be responsible for a “constitutional” tort. A constitutional tort is a wrong committed in violation of one or more of the fundamental rights found in the U.S. Constitution, that is, unlawful search of a home or person, cruel and unusual punishment or deprivation of the right to liberty or due process. It is unlikely such a tort would be committed by a volunteer in the course of SCORE work.
- The volunteer acted contrary to a specific statute that (regardless of the FTCA) allows federal employees to be personally liable for the tort. There are currently no specific statutes applicable to SCORE volunteers under this exception.
If there is an incident that might create the basis for a claim against or involving a SCORE volunteer, or notice of a claim is made or threatened, the chapter chair, District Director and SCORE Vice President of Field Operations shall be promptly notified. The Vice President of Field Operations will notify the CEO, the Vice President of Finance, and legal counsel, as needed.
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