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Governor proposes bill to cap gov’t dollar liability in tort claims

Due to the potential losses the government may face in tort claims, which have grown exponentially — while the government’s ability to satisfy a judgment for a significant claim has not grown at nearly the same pace — Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga is proposing a bill to consider capping the liability of the government for a single claim at a fixed dollar amount.


Lolo said in a letter sent to Fono leaders that the Government Tort Liability Act (GTLA)  was originally enacted in 1967, 46 years ago, and at the time, the economic circumstances of the territory were vastly different than in today’s world.


The governor noted, in the meantime, it remains the government’s burden to serve all the people of American Samoa all of the time and it must be able to continue to do so even in the face of a significant claim under the Tort Liability Act.


Lolo said, his administration is forwarding a bill to the legislature which would limit the government’s liability under the Tort Claim Act to $500,000.


He said the administration felt this amount is fair to the government and to potential claimants in today’s world.




According to the proposed bill, the GTLA currently contains no limit on the exposure of the government to a claim filed under the act and as time passes and the economy continues to evolve, the value that can be placed on potential claims against the government continues to increase. 


Also, the government serves all the people of American Samoa and must be expected to continue to do so in an uninterrupted manner, notwithstanding the periodic filing of just claims for which it is found to be liable.


The governor says it is reasonable to place a limit on the liability the government may face for a claim filed under the GTLA so that the government may be financially able to continue to serve all the people despite facing potential liability for claims of a significant dollar amount.


ASCA 43.1203, the proposed bill will be amended by adding “its liability is limited to $500,000”. The full ASCA GTLA is available under under ASCA 43.1203.