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SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS AND SUITS
WILLIAM G. WILDING, DEPUTY BUDGET OFFICER, DISTRICT OF
Mr. WildING. Mr. Chairman, we have an item for an additional amount for the payment of claims in excess of $250, approved by the Commissioners in accordance with the provisions of the act of February 11, 1929, as amended, in the amount of $7,479.19, and I will, with your permission, insert in the record at this point the facts and circumstances under which these claims were settled, the amounts of the claims, and the amounts allowed in each individual case.
(The matter referred to is as follows:)
Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., $708; Ray R. Waln, $792.—These are claims of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., owner of the Parkfairfax Apartment at 1441 Martha Custis Drive, Alexandria, Va., and Ray R. Waln, of that address, for damages caused by a truck assigned to the Department of Sanitation, and owned by the District of Columbia, leaving the highway on May 2, 1947, and crashing into the wall of the apartment, about 132 feet away from the highway, coming to rest with the front of the truck and most of the cab inside of Mr. Waln's living room. The accident occurred about 2 a. m., when the District operator was returning from one of several runs that he was scheduled to make to a dump located in Arlington County, Va. The weather was clear, the streets dry, the temperature about 68°, and visibility was reported to be fair.
Claims for the damages caused by this accident were presented by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. in the amount of $1,312.57 for damages to the apartment building and by Mr. Waln, a tenant of the apartment into which the truck crashed, in the amount of $1,471 for damages to personal property owned by him, a total of $2,783.57. As a result of the crash, the truck driver was knocked unconscious and removed to Alexandria Hospital in an ambulance. It appeared that he had "blacked out" just prior to the accident, which apparently was the cause of his losing control of the vehicle.
The Corporation Counsel reported to the Commissioners that he believed that if the case were presented to a jury recovery would be had against the District of Columbia, and that the Inspector of Claims for the District had checked the amount of the claims and found them with minor exceptions to be reasonable.
Following a period of negotiation, the Corporation Counsel recommended to the Commission the settlement of these two claims in the amount of $708 for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and $792 for Mr. Ray R. Waln, and the Commissioners approved that recommendation.
Mary Levy, $400.—This is a claim of Mary Levy for damages for personal injuries as the result of stepping into a depression in the sidewalk in front of premises 903 E Street NE., which caused her to fall, sustaining injuries to her right ankle. The amount claimed was $1,000.
Following a careful consideration of the claim, the Corporation Counsel recommended to the Commissioners the settlement of the claim in the amount of $400, and the Commissioners approved that recommendation.
Motors Insurance Corp., $656.41.—This was a claim of the Motors Insurance Corp. on behalf of itself and its insured, Rose Hensley, 1819 Minnesota Avenue SE., in the amount of $656.41 for damages to Rose Hensley's automobile as the result of being struck by a District Fire Department vehicle while parked in the 1800 block of Minnesota Avenue SE., at about 5 a. m. on August 27, 1949.
The Corporation Counsel, in his report to the Commissioners in this case, stated that in the event suit were instigated on this claim the District would have a complete technical defense of governmental function, but that as it appeared from a careful review of all the facts that the driver of the District vehicle was negligent he recommended the waiving of the defense of governmental function and the settling of the claim in the amount of $656.41, which recommendation was approved by the Commissioners.
Emory Charles Talheim, $3,750.—This was a suit (Civil Action 2730–48) by Emory Charles Talheim alleging negligence on the part of the District of Columbia
concerning the public sidewalk near 1201 G Street NE., and demanding judgment in the amount of $18,000, plus costs.
The report of the Corporation Counsel to the Commissioners in this case discloses the following: That around midnight of February 5, 1948, while walking south on the east sidewalk of Twelfth Street NE., just south of the intersection of G Street, the plaintiff Talheim fell into an excavation in the sidewalk sustaining a spiral fracture of his right leg between the ankle and the knee joint. The excavation was approximately 7 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 5 or 6 inches deep.
The report of the Corporation Counsel further reads as follows:
"Dr. John Allan Talbot examined Mr. Talheim for the District. He reports that plaintiff suffered a spiral type fracture of the tibia slightly comminuted with outward and backward overriding of the distal frgament, and a comminuted fracture of the upper third of the fibula. An open reduction was done on the right tibia under general anesthesia and two vitallium screws were used for internal fixation. At the present time, Dr. Talbot feels that plaintiff should submit to further operation. These vitallium screws should be removed and the herniation of the muscle fibers should be corrected.
“At the time of the accident plaintiff was earning, according to the records of the Naval Gun Factory, approximately $12 a day. He was absent from work for approximately a year and subsequently was forced to resign his job as a result of his inability to remain standing for any length of time. He is now working at odd jobs and earns approximately $20 a week when he works. A brief estimate of his earning capacity during the last year is $500. If these figures be accurate, and we have no way of disproving them, plaintiff has lost approximately $5,500 in value of time as the result of this injury. Plaintiff's counsel exhibited to counsel for the District of Columbia at pretrial, medical and doctors' bills, totaling $716.
“Plaintiff demands $4,000 in settlement of his case against the District of Columbia. After discussing the matter of settlement with the Commissioners preliminarily on March 21, 1950, we offered Mr. Talheim's attorney $3,500. This offer was rejected. The case was called for trial on March 29, 1950. Counsel for Mr. Talheim then advised this office that Mr. Talheim would accept $3,750. It is believed that settlement on this basis is advantageous to the District of Columbia. It is clear from a review of the evidence in question that plaintiff could adduce substantial testimony to show a failure on the part of the District of Columbia to maintain the sidewalk where the accident happened in a reasonably safe condition."
The Corporation Counsel therefore recommended the settlement of this case in the amount of $3,750, and the Commissioners approved that recommendation.
A. W. Froe, $291.23. This was a claim of A. W. Froe, of Froe Properties, builders and brokors, in the amount of $291.23, to reimburse him for the expenses he incurred in removing an obstruction in the sewer serving the premises '4520 Edson Place N. E., owned by his firm and occupied by him as a residence.
An inspection by the Sewer Division disclosed that the obstruction was actually in the public sewer and not in the lateral serving the above premises. Meanwhile, however, at the direction of the Sewer Division, claimant had engaged a plumber to work on the house lateral, including an excavation at the point where the house lateral entered the public sewer. Backfilling was done by a crew of Mr. Froe's company. A subsequent bill for repairing the street was also made part of the claim.
The report of the Corporation Counsel to the Commissioners stated that it appeared that the defect in the sewer service was due to negligence on the part of the District, and recommended the settlement of the claim for $291.23, and the Commissioners approved that recommendation.
Mrs. Shellie Virginia Boyles, $281.55.—This was a claim of Mrs. Shellie Virginia Boyles, 112 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Va., in the amount of $281.55, for damages to her automobile resulting from a collison with a District of Columbia Highway Department vehicle on Fourteenth Street in the vicinity of D Street SW.
In the report of the Corporation Counsel, he stated that it appeared that the District vehicle at the time of the accident was being operated at an unreasonable speed and that negligence on the part of the District driver was clearly the proximate cause of the damage, and that there was nothing in the facts to indicate any contributory negligence on the part of the claimant.
In these circumstances, the Corporation Counsel recommended the settlement of the claim for $281.55, and the Commissioners approved that recommendation.
Marguerite A. Smith, $600.- This was a suit for $10,000 by Mrs. Marguerite A. Smith (Civil Action No. 4005–48) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to reimburse her for personal injuries alleged to have been suffered by reason of a fall at about 11 a. m. on March 21, 1948, on the sidewalk
on the north side of Newton Street NW., in front of the Church of St. Stephen and the Incarnation, causing a fractured foot and bruises and contusions.
The Corporation Counsel, in his report to the Commissioners in this case, stated that in his opinion any trial of the issues involved would result in a judgment adverse to the District of Columbia, and after negotiation with counsel for the plaintiff a settlement for $600 was agreed on. The Corporation Counsel recommended that this settlement be approved by the Commissioners, and the Commissioners approved that recommendation.
AUDITED CLAIMS Mr. WILDING. The other item is for the payment of audited claims, where we have a number of bills which have now been certified as due by the Accounting Officer of the District of Columbia, but which were not submitted in time to be paid under the law, the appropriations having been exhausted or returned to the general fund of the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of law.
Those items are as follows:
(The matter referred to is as follows:) Salaries and expenses, Collector's Office, District of Columbia, 1945- $60,095. 41 Salaries and expenses, Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia, 1945.
469. 46 Police control, regulation, and administration of traffic upon the highways, 1945.
60, 635. 39
Mr. WILDING. This is an item for an additional amount for the fiscal year 1949 for the payment under the law for the services rendered by the Department of Justice and the judiciary to the District of Columbia. Under the provisions of the Appropriations Acts for those two agencies the amount that is now certified by the Auditor as due is the amount of $149,726.70.
There is a balance in this appropriation for 1949 in the amount of $998.52, so that it would appear that there is a deficiency for which an appropriation is required in the amount of $148,728.18.
Mr. BATES. We are ready for your next witness, Mr. Fowler.
Mr. FOWLER. Dr. Corning is here to justify an item found on page 18 of the justifications.
DR. HOBART M. CORNING, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, DIS-
TRICT OF COLUMBIA DR. GARNET C. WILKINSON, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF
SCHOOLS A. W. HEINMILLER, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
CONSTRUCTION AT THE BROWN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL
Mr. BATEs. We have before us a request for construction at the Browne Junior High School in the amount of $500,000.
Dr. CORNING. There are with me here today, Mr. Heinmiller, Assistant Superintendent in charge of budget and business affairs, and Dr. Wilkinson, the First Assistant Superintendent of Schools in charge of colored schools in the District of Columbia.
OVERCROWDING AT BROWNE AND MILLER JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS
This item that we want to speak to you about is a very urgent one indeed. It has to do with the overcrowding of colored schools in the northeast section of the city.
It involves the Browne Junior High School, that being the school for which an addition is requested, and also has to do with the Miller Junior High School recently constructed and occupied and now filled beyond capacity. The Miller Junior High School is located east of the Anacostia River, and the Browne Junior High School is west of the Anacostia River.
The Browne Junior High School was never finished. The proposal is to complete it and to add sufficient classrooms to bring it within the possibility of educating the number of children enrolled there. Both of those buildings are now beyond their capacity.
This is a section of the city in which we have had very serious problems. The rapidly increasing population in that northeast area has created a very serious problem, and I think you may recall that we had very serious difficulties before the Miller Junior High School was built, when it was necessary to put students into several elementary schools which resulted in student and parent strikes, and quite a serious demonstration there.
We think it is extremely urgent that this addition to the Browne Junior High School be allowed in order that we may have sufficient facilities to prevent the question of having to put junior-high-school children into elementary schools, or putting them on part-time instruction.
Dr. Wilkinson is familiar with the detail of that, and may I ask him, sir, to give you some further detail about it?
Mr. BATES. Dr. Wilkinson.
Dr. WILKINSON. Mr. Chairman, I imagine that the committee is aware of the amounts that are being requested, but for the purpose of the record I will repeat them:
It is requested that $500,000 be appropriated for beginning construction of an 18-room addition to the Browne Junior High School, plus 1 gymnasium, alterations and improvements of the present building, and treatment of grounds, and that the Commissioners be authorized to enter into a contract for the construction of this addition at a total cost not to exceed $780,000.
It is requested also that $22,500 of the $500,000 be made available for plans and specifications, which together with the $8,700 already appropriated will bring the total available for plans and specifications to $31,200, which is 4 percent of the requested contract authorization.
As the Superintendent has testified, the Browne Junior High School is located in the far northeast section of the city which is served by this school and the Miller Junior High School, both of which are already operating above capacity.
The Browne Junior High School already has an enrollment of 100 in excess of the designed capacity and it is expected that the enrollment will reach 1,200 during the coming school year. This will mean that the building will operate at 33% percent above capacity.
The Miller Junior High School has a capacity of 1,200 and already has an enrollment of 1,400 pupils, which is 200 more than the capacity of the building.
It is estimated that the enrollment at the Miller Junior High School will reach 1,600 pupils during the coming school year, which means that the building will also operate one-third above capacity.
Construction of the addition to the Browne Junior High School will not only complete this building but will provide an additional capacity of approximately 600 to take care of the excess number of colored junior-high-school pupils in this section of the city, who will be going both to the Browne and the Miller Junior High Schools.
Furthermore, the enrollments in the elementary schools from which promotions are made to the Browne and Miller Junior High Schools are increasing quite rapidly. Failure to provide the addition for the Browne Junior High School will make it necessary to house some junior-high-school pupils in elementary school buildings or to place them on part-time instruction, both of which the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools wish to avoid at all cost.
The Superintendent has referred already to the very difficult circumstances that we faced out there 2 years ago.
CAPACITY OF BUILDINGS
Now, I have this further information for you, sir, that the capacity of Browne Junior High School is 888. The capacity of the Miller Junior High School is 1,200, or a total joint capacity of 2,088.
There are in those two buildings today, as of June 1, 1950, 1,002 pupils at Browne, and 1,404 pupils at Miller, or a total of 2,406.
That means that there were present in the 2 schools on June 1, 1950, 318 pupils above the joint designed capacity of the 2 struc
We anticipate that in October 1950, the beginning of the next school year, there will be 2,767 pupils in those 2 buildings which have a capacity of 2,088 pupils, or an oversupply of 679 pupils, and that in October 1951 there will be approximately 3,007 pupils with an overload of 919 pupils; and in October 1952 that there will be a registration of 3,309 pupils with an overload of 1,221.
Therefore, if this particular request is not granted we shall be up against a problem of how to provide adequate schoolhouse accommodations in October 1950 for 679 pupils, in October 1951 for 919 pils, and in October 1952 for 1,221 pupils beyond the joint capacities of these 2 buildings, and so I respectfully urge favorable action on this request.
TYPE OF CLASSROOMS TO BE ADDED Mr. Bates. What type of classrooms will be added to the building?
Dr. WILKINSON. I have not the details here before me, Mr. Chairman, but we will have an increase of 18 classrooms, each of which has a capacity of approximately 36, which will give us an increased capacity of at least 600 pupils.
Mr. Bates. But you propose to have the same type of classrooms that you now have?
Mr. HEINMILLER. Perhaps I can answer that. At the present time, Mr. Chairman, art, music, and some of the shops in Miller are in regular classrooms. We plan to give that school the standard set-up in art, music, and home economics. It is badly in need of modern home-economics laboratories. This adjustment would make two additional classrooms available in the existing building. When we transfer