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MARY THOMAS SCHIEK
JULY 7, 1949.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered
to be printed
Mr. LANE, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the
ITo accompany H. R. 33001
The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 3300) for the relief of Mary Thomas Schiek, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the bill do pass.
The amendments are as follows:
Page 1, line 6, after the name "Schiek” insert "of Milwaukee, Wisconsin”.
Page 1, line 7, after the word "States' strike out the bill down to the colon in line 3, page 2, and insert: for personal injuries, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and loss of earnings sustained by her and arising out of an accident which occurred in Bengal Province, India, on May 27, 1945, while she was riding in an Army truck, and against all officers, agents, or employees of the United States whose acts or omissions caused or contributed to the personal injuries, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and loss of earnings sustained by the said Mary Thomas Schiek.
Amend title so as to read:
The purpose of the proposed legislation is to pay the sum of $35,000 to Mary Thomas Schiek, of Milwaukee, Wis., in full settlement of all claims against the United States and against Charles H. McDevitt, Jr., formerly a major in the Medical Corps, and chief of the surgical service, Three Hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital, for permanent injuries suffered as the result of the negligent operation of an Army truck on May 27, 1945, in Bengal Province, India, and as the result of neglect and malpractice by Army Medical Corps personnel of the Three Hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
It appears that Miss Schiek received injuries on May 27, 1945, in Bengal Province, India, while in the service of the American Red Cross, while riding in an Army truck, which overturned, throwing Miss Schiek out. She was immediately taken to the Three Hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital of the United States Army where she remained for 48 days. Charles H. McDevitt, Jr., chief of the surgical service, discharged her on July 21, 1945, stating that he could find no reason for her constant pain, found no serious injuries and believed she would be ready for active duty in 2 weeks. Shortly thereafter, she collapsed in Calcutta and was taken by ambulance to the One Hundred and Forty-second General Hospital there. Maj. Helman C. Wasserman was in charge of her case. His office is now at 4500 Olive Street, St. Louis, Mo.
The Calcutta hospital found gross negligence and malpractice had occurred at the Three Hundred and Seventy-second Field Hospital and that Miss Schiek actually had received the following injuries which had been overlooked-severe transverse fracture of sacrum, fracture of the pelvis, fracture of the process of lumbar four and five, mid lateral ribs broken, severe injuries to the cauda equina and sacro nerves, no sensation in the lower part of the extremities, inability to walk, unable to control bowels or urine, atrophy of muscles of leg.
The claimant was removed to Halloran Hospital, Staten Island, N. Y., in the fall of 1945. Consultation by Capt. John J. Lowrey, February 5, 1946, suggested ability to return to work in 3 or 4 months. Further examination by same doctor in May 1946 suggested further total disability for 6 months, examination October 1946 by the same doctor suggested inability to work for at least an additional year. In November of 1947, Dr. Wasserman examined Miss Schiek, and stated that "these restrictions will remain and your future life will undoubtedly have to be regulated by these handicaps.”
Approximately 3 years after accident she is still unable to walk more than 2 blocks without exhaustion and will slide off an average chair unless her feet are supported. She cannot wear ordinary shoes, but only soft-soled slippers. Because of weakness and atrophy of muscles she is unable to sit or lie in any one position for more than a short period, is still incapable of properly controlling urine and feces and must spend most of her mornings caring for these functions. Any earning capacity that claimant will have will be restricted to what she can do in her own home. Prior to enlisting in the service of the American Red Cross, Miss Schiek was employed by the Boston Store, Inc., of Milwaukee. Robert A. Heinz, assistant promotion director there, has written that Miss Schiek would have been rehired if physically able to resume her duties and would earn between $45 and $50 per week. As it is, she earns nothing.
Claimant does not come under the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act and may not institute suit for her injuries because the accident took place in India, outside of the continental limits of the United States, and her only relief must necessarily come from Congress. Her claim has been exhausted administratively in the War Department, and on February 20, 1948, C. O. Wolfe, colonel, Judge Advocate General's Department, Chief, Claims and Litigation Division, and T. L. Borom, lieutenant colonel, Judge Advocate General's Department, Assistant Chief, Claims and Litigation Division, Department of the Army, wrote to the claimant's counsel, "the Department of the Army can take no administrative action on your client's claim."
On March 12, 1948, claimant's counsel, in an interview with above-named Lieutenant Colonel Borom, at the War Department, was told that the War Department could not take action because the claim did not involve property damage, medical expense, or hospital bills. He stated that the War Department felt Miss Schiek had a most meritorious claim and undoubtedly had received very severe injuries in the accident which were not recognized during her 48 days in the Three Hundred and Seventy-second Field Hospital, and that the War Department would approve any sum which Congress felt would properly compensate Miss Schiek for the injuries and disability which manifestly will leave her totally disabled for the rest of ber life.
The question might arise as to why Miss Schiek was riding in the Army truck. On Sunday, May 27, 1945, the day of the accident, she was assigned to travel with some GI's and point out and visit a point of interest. An Army truck known as a 6 by 6 was assigned for the purpose. Miss Schiek sat on the last seat on the right-hand side in rear of the truck with 14 or 15 soldiers. After the truck bad gone a few miles on the return trip, it tipped over going around a curve, throwing Miss Schiek and the men out and turning over them.
The Department of the Army admits the negligence on the part of the Army personnel and, as stated above, would approve any sum which Congress felt would properly compensate Miss Schiek.
At the time of this accident, Miss Schiek was 27 years of age and was employed as an advertising copywriter prior to joining the American Red Cross. Her former employer, Mr. Robert A. Heinz, assistant promotion director of the Milwaukee Boston Store, Inc., stated that she would have probably been rehired at around $40 per week.
The Secretary of the Army, in his report dated May 17, 1949, states: Apart from any consideration of the question as to the medical treatment which Miss Schiek received at the Three hundred and seventy-second Station Hospitai it is apparent that she sustained serious injuries while riding in an Army vehicle and that the evidence clearly establishes that the accident and the resulting injury of Miss Schiek were not caused by any fault or negligence on her part but could only have been caused by the negligence of the driver of the Army truck in which she was riding. It is, therefore, the view of the Department of the Army that Miss Scbiek should be compensated in a reasonable amount for the personal injuries sustained by her in this accident and the disabilities and loss of earnings resulting therefrom The award of $50,000 proposed in this bill appears to be somewhat excessive. Considering all of the facts and circumstances in this case it is believed that an award to the claimant in the amount of $15,000 would constitute a fair and reasonable settlement of her claim
Your committee has given this bill very careful consideration and unanimously disagrees with the recommendation of the Department of the Army in that $15,000 constitutes a fair and reasonable settlement for injuries sustained by Miss Schiek, and it is further unable to understand why and on what basis the Bureau of the Budget recommends an award not exceeding $10,000 It is the opinion of your committee that the Department of the Army nor the Bureau of the Budget has been fully informed regarding the real facts in connection with this claim. This claimant is totally and permanently disabled for life and in recommending the sum of $35,000 your com
mittee feels that this is in fact not commensurate with the injuries sustained. Therefore, favorable recommendation is made in the amount of $35,000.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY.
Washington, D. C., May 17, 1949 Hon. EMANUEL CELLER,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives. DEAR MR. CELLER: The Department of the Army would have no objection to the enactment of H. R. 3300, Eighty-first Congress, a bill for the relief of Mary Thomas Schiek, a Red Cross employee injured by the Army, if it should be amended as hereinafter recommended
This bill provides as follows:
"That the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to pay, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the sum of $50,000 to Mary Thomas Schiek, in full settlement of all claims against the United States and against Charles H McDevitt, Junior, formerly a major in the Medical Corps, and chief of the surgical service, Three Hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital, for permanent injuries suffered as the result of the negligent operation of an Army truck on Mar 27. 1945, in Bengal Province, India, and as the result of neglect and malpractice by Army Medical Corps personnel of the Three Hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital.”
During 1945 Miss Mary Thomas Schiek was an employee oi the American Red Cross and was stationed at Salua, Bengal Province, India. On May 27, 1945, she took a party of enlisted men to Dhudkhundhi, Bengal, on an afternoon sightseeing tour. There were three Army vehicles assigned for the trip and Miss Schiek rode in the rear of a 244-ton Army truck The facts are not completely clear but it appears that on the return trip the truck in which Miss Schiek was riding as a passenger, while attempting to follow the curve of the road at too high a speed, turned over or almost turned over throwing Miss Schiek out, and that as a result of this accident Miss Schiek sustained personal injuries. She was immediately taken to the Three Hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital of the United States Army where she was confined until July 13, 1945. The diagnosis made at the station hospita' of the injuries sustained by Miss Schiek was as follows:
“(a) Contusions of left face, left chest. abdomen, both buttocks, left leg and both feet.
“(6) Abrasions of left thigh and left chest.
"(c) Neuritis, traumatic, lower abdomen, both buttocks and both legs, moderate to severe, mostly cutaneous
At the time of her discharge from the station hospital it was recommended that she continue with physiotherapy treatments for 1 week as an out-patient and that she then be granted a period of sick leave of at least 2 weeks for a complete rest and rehabilitation
On August 9, 1945, Miss Schiek received a typhoid inoculation Her reaction to this inoculation was quite severe and she was thereupon admitted to the One Hundred and Forty-second General Hospital of the United States Army located in Calcutta, India She quickly recovered from the effects of the typhoid inoculation but a peculiarity in her gait was noted and when she related the history of the accident and her subsequent treatment. X-rava
'nenital The report on these X-rays was as follows.
“There is an irregularity with a moderate degree of angulation in the upper portion of the sacrum at about the junction of the first and second segments, which is believed to represent an old fracture with angulation of the sacral segments There appears to be some callus present. There is also an ununited fracture of the left transverse process of L-4, and old fractures of the transverse processes of L-5. There is also an old transverse fracture on the left at about the junction of the descending remus of the pubis with the ischium There is a fair amount of callus at the site of this fracture and there is no displacement of the fragments There are old healed fractures of the lower ribs on both sides at about the mid. axillary line.”
The Army medical officer who attended Miss Schiek at the one hundred and forty-second General Hospital was Maj. Helman C. Wasserman. On October 7. 1947, Dr. Wasserman, 4500 Olive Street, St. Louis, Mo., made the following statement concerning the treatment rendered by him to Miss Schiek:
I saw Miss Schiek for the first time on the morning following her admission to the One-hundred and forty-second General Hospital. She had been admitted the previous evening because of a reaction to an inoculation of typhoid vaccine. At the time that she was first seen her reaction to the typhoid inoculation had subsided considerably. She was allowed to be up and about, and it was then noted that Miss Schiek had a peculiar 'duck waddle' gait. I questioned Miss Schiek about her gait. She related that she had been in a motor accident and had been confined to the Three-hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital for some time. Following this she had been sent to a convalescent camp and had just returned for duty when the typhoid reaction had occurred. She related that for some time after her admission to the Three-hundred and Seventy-second Station Hospital she had been unable to walk and had had to learn over again.
"When I examined Miss Schiek for the first time I found that she had moderate atrophy of the gluteal muscles and all the muscles of the posterior portion of the thighs and legs. There were varying areas of anesthesia and hypesthesia over this same area. X-rays, taken at this time, showed an anterior fracture dislocation of the sacrum. I do not recall at just what level. There was also evidence of healing fracture of several ribs on the left and I think that there was also a healing fracture of one of the rami of the pubis. I am not sure about the fracture of the pubis.
"After these physical findings were determined, Miss Schiek was examined by Lt. Col. Max T. Schnitker (hospital neurosurgeon) and Maj. Max Levin (hospital neurologist). Both of them confirmed that Miss Schiek had suffered severe injury to the cauda equina (I do not recall exact nerve trunks involved) as the result of the sacral fracture and this was the cause of her inability to walk properly, to have proper reaction to touch, and also difficulty in controlling bowel movements."
Miss Schiek remained in the One Hundred and Forty-second General Hospital until September 28, 1945, when she was shipped back to the United States. The final diagnosis at the One Hundred and Forty-second General Hospital was as follows:
"Contusion, cauda, equina-sacral segments, severe, accidentally incurred at approximately 1630 hours (4:30 p. m.), May 27, 1945, when as a passenger during authorized Red Cross tour, was thrown from U. S. Army truck (6 by 6) when truck left road at APO 493"
Immediately upon her arrival in the United States Miss Scheik was taken to the Halloran General Hospital, Staten Island, N. Y., to which she was admitted on October 25, 1945. Numerous examinations were conducted and she was then permitted to go home on leave prior to the commencement of treatment. She returned to the Halloran General Hospital on January 9, 1946, and remained at the hospital under treatment until November 21, 1946. An abstract of her clinical record at the Halloran General Hospital is as follows:
“Condition on admission: Appearance good. Well-developed and well-nourished adult white female walking with a calcaneal gait and waddling from side to side in & minimal fashion.
"Chief complaint: Difficulty in walking due to old accident.
"History of the present illness: While riding a Government-owned vehicle on an authorized trip, the truck overturned and she was thrown out of vehicle landing on her back and left hip. This occurred at 1630, May 27, 1945, at Bengal, India, APO 493. She had fractured pelvic and sacrum and there was fracture of ribs with paralysis from waist down. She was hospitalized in India and finally was sent to Z of I (Zone of the Interior-United States). Never in a cast and for first 2 months no treatments except massage and P. T. (physiotherapy). Admitted to Halloran General Hospital on October 25, 1945 and after about 2 weeks she went out for 60 days. She returned to hospital for further observation and treatment.
"Physical examination: Height 63 inches, normal weight 122, present weight 122. Bones and joints: Some limitation of motion in all directions in both knees and both ankles and both hips. Nervous sustem: Sacral hypesthesia distribution. Shooting pain down back of legs more pronounced on left side at present. Superficial tactile and heat and cold sensation on strip down posterior aspect of both legs. Absence of sensation on right more pronounced than left.
"Consultation: Opinion of consultant: ‘This patient was injured May 27, 1945, and had a severe transverse fracture of the sacrum involving primarily the second sacrum segment and she still has a considerable deformity at this point with a marked angulation at this level. She undoubtedly sustained a severe contusion to the sacral nerves. She has improved markedly since injury and at the present