The Torts Branch is responsible for the defense of the United States and its employees in tort litigation seeking monetary judgments for damages resulting from negligent or wrongful acts. The Branch a so prosecutes a significant number of affirmative tort claims to recover for damages to government property. Other responsibilities include participating in administrative claims procedures mandated by the Federal Tort Claims Act, and conducting preventive education programs for Federal employees. The Torts Branch is the principal guardian of the public fisc against new tort suits that seek billions of dollars in monetary damages each year.
As the federal agency whose mission is to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans, the Department of Justice is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment. To build and retain a workforce that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives of the American people, we welcome applicants from the many communities, identities, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, abilities, religions, and cultures of the United States who share our commitment to public service.
Trial attorneys in Office of Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation - Vaccine Litigation Staff - represent the interests of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in all cases filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act ("Vaccine Act"). The cases involve claims of injury as a result of the receipt of vaccines covered by the Act. The office is currently expanding to address workload created by an increase in cases filed under the Vaccine Act.
The position offers a unique experience in public service and typically involves trial practice. The legal and medical issues at stake in each case vary. Trial attorneys independently manage heavy caseloads, and while streamlined procedures are utilized, many cases involve complex scientific issues of causation that require expert witnesses in medical fields such as pediatrics, neurology, immunology, and epidemiology. In cases in which petitioners are found entitled to compensation, the litigation occasionally requires use of damages experts to develop an appropriate life care plan for the injured party, including medical treatment and related care needs, and the determination of other compensable damages, such as lost earnings and pain and suffering, often awarded through a structured settlement.
Attorneys with limited litigation experience will focus primarily on cases in a claims posture, typically involving less complicated issues of science and medicine, limited damages, and few court appearances, with the possibility of transitioning to handling more complex cases in litigation over time.
Attorneys appear frequently before the Office of Special Masters in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and also appear before the judges of the Court, as well as in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit when handling appeals. Responsibilities include factual and legal research, medical record review, brief writing, and working with expert witnesses to develop the defense of claims, as well as to address the life care needs of vaccine-injured petitioners in some cases. The majority of cases are resolved through settlement, and thus attorneys engage regularly in settlement negotiations, including alternative dispute resolution, and drafting settlement memoranda.
Applicants must be a graduate from a full course of study in a School of Law accredited by the American Bar Association and be a member in good standing of the bar of a state, territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar (any jurisdiction), have at least one year of post J.D. experience to qualify at the GS-12 level; have at least two years of post J.D. experience to qualify at the GS-13 level; or have at least three years of post J.D. experience to qualify at the GS-14 level. Beyond the minimum years of post J.D. experience, other factors are taken into consideration as well such as, litigation experience, relevance of experience to our practice area, etc. You must also be a U.S. citizen.
To apply for this position, you must provide a complete Application Package, including the required documents indicated below. The Application Package must be received by 11:59 pm, Eastern Standard Time, on the listed closing date of this announcement.
A complete application package must include:
1. Cover Letter (highlighting relevant experience).
2. Résumé - (listing month and year of relevant experience) Applicants are encouraged to ensure work experiences clearly show the possession of knowledge of the subject matter pertinent to the position and the technical skills to successfully perform the duties of the position.
3. Writing Sample (not more than 15 pages in length).
4. If you are claiming veterans preference, you must also submit your DD-214 (Member-4 Copy), and/or other documentation that you may have.
Applicants are encouraged to submit their materials by email to: CSTL-Vaccine.Vacancies@usdoj.gov .
Applicants may also send their materials by commercial courier service, (FedEx or UPS) to:
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Division, Torts Branch
3CON, Room 8.1302
Washington, D.C. 20005
ATTN: Alexis Babcock, Assistant Director
Applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time on the listed closing date of this announcement.
No telephone calls, please.
Applicants should familiarize themselves and comply with the relevant rules of professional conduct regarding any possible conflicts of interest in connection with their applications. In particular, please notify this Office if you currently represent clients or adjudicate matters in which this Office is involved and/or you have a family member who is representing clients or adjudicating matters in which this Office is involved so that we can evaluate any potential conflict of interest or disqualification issue that may need to be addressed under those circumstances.