Sample Technology Case Study on Texas Disaster

Case brief-Texas Disaster

Case: Elizabeth Delahite v United States (1947).


There were many lawsuits filed regarding the incident. Many of the cases were combined together and referred to as Elizabeth Dalehite et al., v United States. The United States was found guilty by the district court for negligence that led to the destruction of properties of the agencies (Hart, 1999). The agencies represented people who were in the labeling, packaging, and manufacture. The explosion that led to the destruction of properties resulted from erroneous activities in fire prevention, transportation and storage of products. The claimants had sued the United States for negligence and were relieved when the district court found the defendant guilty as charged

Issue:  Is the United States liable for negligence in the case of Texas disaster?


The three out of four judges who gave decisions on the case at the Supreme Court said that the US not liable for negligence. The congress had stated that tort liability of the government similar to that of any private person when it conducts duties that are non-governmental.the private people who were involved in the activities that lead to explosion were to be held responsible for the destruction and not the government. The congress did not agree with the decision made by the three justices. It organized for compensation to the persons affected. The compensation totaled to 17 million dollars.

Majority Reasoning:

The court had found the United States guilty and the parties were given right to sue the government under violating federal torts claim. The problem arose when in June 10th 1952; the court of appeal had overturned the decision made by the district court. The court of appeal stated that the United States had no obligation to compensate claimants when it only acted on its right to exercise discretion that’s fits its situation on national matters. The supreme made matters worse for the claimant because it found the district court to have no jurisdiction on the matter.

This means that the decision made by the district court was null and void. The federal statute prohibited the district court from finding the US liable for negligence. It said that the decisions that resulted in the explosions were properly delegated to various departments and could not in any way related to the government. Supreme Court shed light on FTCA’s exemption of failures that results from performing discretion duties (Zillman, 1977). It also found out that all the actions mentioned in the case were discretionary.

Majority of the Americans were not pleased with the courts decision. The congress acted on the interest of the public and as their representative. It invoked the Public Law 378, 69 Stat. 707 (1955.they sought to amend the Act of august 12, 1955 so that they could provide additional relief to the victims of the Texas disaster. This act allows the treasury to pay out money when an urgent needs a rise. The secretary of the treasury was therefore set free by the law to act on this and make the needed money available for compensation.


The congress can evoke Public Law 378, 69 Stat. 707 (1955) when there is an emergency situation caused from human errors. This gives the treasury secretary the power to release money to be used for the purposes of solving the situation (Rothblum, 2000). The case is a warning to marine transportation stakeholders to ensure that they are personally responsible for their goods



Hart, S. S. (1999). The Texas City Disaster, 1947. Technology and Culture, 40(1), 189-190.

Rothblum, A. M. (2000). Human error and marine safety. In National Safety Council Congress and Expo, Orlando, FL.

Zillman, D. N. (1977). Changing Meanings of Discretion: Evolution in the Federal Tort Claims Act, The. Mil. L. Rev., 76, 1.