Federal Officer Removal Statute
The Federal Officer Removal Statute is a doctrine that allows claims against a federal officer — i.e. someone who is working under color of federal authority — to be removed from state court to federal court. This statute is not only available to federal officers or any person acting under them but also to corporations.
This statute is often seen in aviation cases regarding military-related claims since the military often contracts out a wide array of operations to civilian-run airlines and employs commercial manufacturers to produce military aircraft and aircraft components.
Government contractors have long used the “any person acting under” language of the statute to remove product liability claims from state to federal court, arguing that they manufactured the allegedly defective products according to detailed specifications furnished by the U.S. government.
The U.S. Supreme Court validated this use of the Federal Officer Removal statute in the seminal case Boyle v. United Technologies Corp. The underlying rationale in Boyle is that the contractor, in manufacturing products pursuant to government direction, steps into the shoes of the sovereign and therefore, enjoys sovereign immunity.