Torts Committed by Informants:

Victims Suing the Government



Informants are one of the most unstable and unpredictable components of America’s criminal justice system. That they would cause injury to others while working for the government should come as no surprise.


The volumes of rules and regulations developed by federal and local law enforcement agencies governing the control of informants dramatically illustrates official recognition of the risks informants pose to the public.  Throughout history, informants have been the catalyst for police corruption, prosecutor misconduct, wrongful convictions, and the death of officers and innocent citizens alike. Effectively managing confidential sources requires the law enforcement agency to constantly assess the risk associated with each source it operates.


The fallout from informant mismanagement has been costly. In many cases, the sequence of events leading to disaster began during the selection and recruitment of the informant. They were exacerbated by failures in control and supervision once the informant became operational.


Until recently, the government has been relatively successful in avoiding liability for torts committed by its employees, particularly for crimes committed by an employee’s informants. That doesn’t mean that bringing an action against the government for a tort committed by one of its informants is an exercise in futility. During the last decade nearly $2 billion in wrongful death lawsuits related to the scandal surrounding a corrupt FBI agent’s handling of informant James “Whitey” Bulger have made their way into court. Juries have awarded millions in damages to the informant’s victims.


Understanding the rules for informant handling is essential in evaluating a cause of action for a tort committed by an informant. Dennis G. Fitzgerald can evaluate your case and is available to assist in every phase of your lawsuit.

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