CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT.
Warren, Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Fortas
MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
The respondent Demko, a federal prisoner, was seriously injured in 1962 in the performance of an assigned prison task in a federal penitentiary. Shortly afterward he filed a claim for compensation benefits under 18 U. S. C. § 4126. That law, first enacted by Congress in 1934, authorized the Federal Prison Industries, Inc., a federal corporation, to use its funds "in paying, under rules and regulations promulgated by the Attorney General, compensation . . . to inmates or their dependents
for injuries suffered in any industry."*fn1 Under that law and regulations promulgated under it, respondent was awarded $180 per month which was to start on discharge from prison and continue so long as disability continued.*fn2 After winning this compensation award, respondent brought this action against the United States in the Federal District Court under the Federal Tort Claims Act,*fn3 alleging that his injury was due to the Government's negligence for which he was entitled to recover additional damages under that Act. The United States defended on the single ground that respondent's right to recover compensation under 18 U. S. C. § 4126 was his exclusive remedy against the Government barring him from any suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The District Court, holding that compensation under 18 U. S. C. § 4126 was not his exclusive remedy, rejected this defense and accordingly entered a judgment for the respondent against the United States for tort claim damages based on stipulated facts. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed. 350 F.2d 698. Subsequently the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Granade v. United States, 356 F.2d 837, reached precisely the opposite result, holding that a prison inmate, injured in prison employment and eligible for compensation under 18 U. S. C. § 4126, is precluded from suing under the Federal Tort Claims Act. To resolve this conflict we granted certiorari. 383 U.S. 966.
Historically, workmen's compensation statutes were the offspring of a desire to give injured workers a quicker and more certain recovery than can be obtained from tort suits based on negligence and subject to common-law defenses to such suits. Thus compensation laws are practically always thought of as substitutes for, not supplements to, common-law tort actions. A series of comparatively recent cases in this Court has recognized this historic truth and ruled accordingly. Johansen v. United States, 343 U.S. 427, and Patterson v. United States, 359 U.S. 495, for instance, are typical of the recognition by this Court that the right of recovery granted groups of workers covered by such compensation laws is exclusive. Such rulings of this Court have established as a general rule the exclusivity of remedy under such compensation laws.*fn4 In Johansen v. United States, supra, at 441, this Court stated that where "the Government has created a comprehensive system to award payments for injuries, it should not be held to have made exceptions to that system without specific legislation to that effect." Later in Patterson v. United States, supra, at 496, this Court emphatically
refused to abandon the Johansen ruling, calling attention to the fact that Congress by specific statute could change the Johansen "policy at any time." Consequently we decide this case on the Johansen principle that, where there is a compensation statute that reasonably and fairly covers a particular group of workers, it presumably is the exclusive remedy to protect that group.
There is no indication of any congressional purpose to make the compensation statute in 18 U. S. C. § 4126 nonexclusive. It was enacted in 1934, and provided for injured federal prisoners the only chance they had to recover damages of any kind. Its enactment was 12 years prior to the 1946 Federal Tort Claims Act. There is nothing in the legislative history of this latter Act which pointed to any purpose to add tort claim recovery for federal prisoners after they had already been protected by 18 U. S. C. § 4126. Indeed to hold that the 1946 Federal Tort Claims Act was designed to have such a supplemental effect would be to hold that injured prisoners are given greater protection than all other government employees who are protected exclusively by the Federal Employees' Compensation Act,*fn5 a congressional purpose not easy to infer.
The court below refused to accept the prison compensation law as an exclusive remedy because it was deemed not comprehensive enough. We disagree. That law, as shown by its regulations, its coverage and the amount of its payments to the injured and their dependents, compares favorably with compensation laws all over the country.*fn6 While there are differences in the way it protects its beneficiaries, these are due in the main to the ...