Will the FBI reimburse me for my barn?

Answers to your questions about the news.
May 26 2006 6:25 AM

The FBI Knocked Over My Barn …

Can I get reimbursed?

Download the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for The Explainer's free daily podcast on iTunes.

Federal agents ordered the destruction of a barn at the Hidden Dreams Farm on Wednesday, so they could dig beneath it for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa. Will the FBI reimburse the owners for their demolished building? 

Probably. When an FBI investigation requires the premeditated destruction of private property, the agent in charge will try to work out a compensation package ahead of time. She'll get together with the property owners and a field office lawyer to negotiate a fair deal—the field office can approve any payment of up to $10,000. Anything more than that goes to FBI headquarters in Washington.

Daniel Engber Daniel Engber

Daniel Engber is a columnist for Slate


Agents don't always have time to talk first and destroy later. The FBI might break down your door to execute a search warrant, for example, or break through the wall of your house, or crash into your car. In these cases, you can file an administrative claim with the local bureau field office. You can ask for reimbursement as a third party—if you had no connection to the crime under investigation—or you can argue that the damage to your property did not result from reasonable law enforcement action. Owners often elect to go to their insurance companies first and let the insurers handle any claims against the government.

Other law enforcement agencies have similar procedures. If the DEA busts into a rented apartment to catch some drug dealers, the landlord can file a claim for damages. He'll need to get a form from the agent in charge, explain what was damaged, and attach receipts to show the cost of the repairs.

You can take the government to court under the Federal Tort Claims Act if they try to lowball you on your claim. Families that get really screwed and have to move out of their homes—after a police raid with tear gas, for example—sometimes get housing assistance from special government funds or the American Red Cross.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer.

Explainer thanks Catherine Milhoan of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 19 2014 1:10 PM Ascension Island: Home of Lava Fields, a False Forest, and the World's Worst Golf Course
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.