United States v. Stanley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
United States v. Stanley
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued April 21, 1987
Decided June 25, 1987
Full case nameUnited States, et al. v. James B. Stanley
Citations483 U.S. 669 (more)
107 S. Ct. 3054; 97 L. Ed. 2d 550; 1987 U.S. LEXIS 2890; 55 U.S.L.W. 5101
ArgumentOral argument
Servicemen may not maintain a Bivens action for injuries arising out of activity "incident to service."
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell Jr. · John P. Stevens
Sandra Day O'Connor · Antonin Scalia
Case opinions
MajorityScalia, joined by Rehnquist, White, Blackmun, Powell; Brennan, Marshall, Stevens, O'Connor (part I)
Concur/dissentBrennan, joined by Marshall; Stevens (part III)

United States v. Stanley, 483 U.S. 669 (1987), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that a serviceman could not file a tort action against the federal government even though the government secretly administered doses of LSD to him as part of an experimental program, because his injuries were found by the lower court to be service-related.


In February 1958, James B. Stanley, a master sergeant in the Army stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, volunteered for a chemical warfare testing program. Stanley was administered lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in a US Army plan to test the effects of the drug on human subjects. Stanley claimed he was unknowingly given the drug.[1]

Stanley claimed that as a result of the LSD exposure, he suffered from hallucinations, periods of incoherence, and memory loss due to his unawareness of having taken the drug. He suffered severe personality changes that led to his discharge and the dissolution of his marriage.

Stanley filed a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) alleging negligence in the administration, supervision, and subsequent monitoring of the experimental program.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the serviceman could assert his claims under the FTCA and refused to dismiss the serviceman's Bivens claims.

Opinion of the Court[edit]

After granting certiorari, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court had no jurisdiction to give orders to dismiss FTCA claims. The Supreme Court also held there was no Bivens claim for the serviceman's injuries because the lower court ruled the injuries occurred during Stanley's military service.


In 1994 Congress passed a private claims bill to redress the case. In 1996 an arbitration panel awarded Stanley $400,577 (the maximum amount allowed under the bill) after a 2-1 vote.[2]


  1. ^ Norbert Ehrenfreund (2007). The Nuremberg Legacy: How the Nazi War Crimes Trials Changed the Course of History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-230-61078-1.
  2. ^ Bob Erlandson, Ex-sergeant compensated for LSD experiments Tests by Army, CIA done at Edgewood, March 07, 1996, Baltimore Sun

External links[edit]