her medication which failed to relieve the pain. The following
day she returned to the hospital, where no beds were yet
available. She was examined there by Dr. Geckler, an orthopedist,
who told her to return home, stay in bed and not move around
until called by the hospital. Her condition had not improved.
12. The next day plaintiff engaged a practical nurse to take
care of her and her nine year old daughter and seven year old son
at a salary of $15 a week. The nurse worked for plaintiff for
13. Plaintiff was given a bed at the hospital on November 1,
1950. There her neck was put in traction by means of placing a
sort of harness around her head and chin connected with weights
over the end of the bed. She was kept in that position for six
days, during which time she had severe headaches and a continual
knife-like pain in the spine at the neck and continuing down the
right shoulder and arm. After the six days in traction, she was
placed in a large plaster of paris body cast which extended from
the top of her head, down along the eyebrows, around the face and
up on the chin, down the neck, over the shoulders, and down the
trunk of the body to the hips. Her head was extended backward and
immobilized in that position, so that she was continually looking
at the ceiling. Her pain was slightly relieved by the large cast.
She remained in the hospital for nine days and was then sent home
in the large cast by a cabulance.
14. A short time later plaintiff was given a nerve block for
the purpose of deadening the pain in her neck, but instead of
affording relief the nerve block increased the pain to such an
extent that she called Dr. Rose to her home late that night. Dr.
Rose's medication failed to relieve her pain.
15. On December 12, 1950, the large cast was removed and
additional x-rays were taken at the hospital. On December 16,
1950, she was placed in a smaller cast, which held her head
immobile in the same position as had the large cast. She wore
this smaller cast until February 20, 1951, but felt no
improvement. On the day the cast was removed a myelogram was
taken by Dr. Olsen. She was kept in the hospital for six days
where she continued to suffer a great deal of pain in the neck
and shoulder area and had no feeling in the right hand. After
being given many tests she was again put in traction, but this
did not help. She was then sent home, but soon returned to the
hospital to see Dr. Geckler, because of the intense pain. After
more tests and treatments she was again put back in a small cast,
which remained on from May 11 or 12, 1951 to August 17, 1951.
During all this time the only relief she obtained from pain was
in lying down.
16. From the time of the accident to the time of the trial
plaintiff's weight had dropped from 119 pounds to 98 pounds. At
the time of the trial she was still suffering from intermittent
headaches often lasting three or four days. She had pain in the
top of her head and in the entire neck. The pain in her neck was
aggravated by attempts to turn her head and neck sideways or to
bend her head and neck forward and backward. She held her neck
rigidly and found it extremely painful to move it. The pain
extended down the neck to the right shoulder and down the right
arm, particularly on the outer surface. She had atrophy or
shrinkage of the muscles in the right arm and swelling of the
palm of the right hand. She had no feeling or sensation in her
right arm and right leg and scattered anesthesia or absence of
sensation in the right side of the body. At the time of the trial
plaintiff was still under the care of Dr. Rose and was waiting
for a bed to re-enter the Hahnemann Hospital under the care of
17. Plaintiff has suffered a severe neck injury which consists
of a herniated disc in the cervical vertebrae*fn2 together with
torn ligaments in the neck. The pain in her neck, right shoulder,
right arm, and right leg will remain with her for the rest of her
life, as will her intermittent headaches and the absence of
sensation or feeling on the right side of her body. Also
permanent are the atrophy of the muscles in her right arm and the
limitation of motion of the head and neck, because of the extreme
pain incurred in any movement of the neck. Removal by surgery of
the offending disc and fusion of the cervical vertebrae involved
are possible methods of alleviating plaintiff's painful
condition, and the chances of a successful operation are good.
However, great pain and discomfort are involved in this type of
surgery and there is a possibility of a fatal result. In view of
this, I have not reduced the amount of the award, because of the
possibility of this operation. See Potts v. Guthrie, 282 Pa. 200,
127 A. 605. Perhaps by use of this operation plaintiff's
disability at some future time will change from total to partial,
but at best plaintiff will always have a stiff neck and a high
rate of disability. Plaintiff's disability is permanent and
total. Her various pains, headaches, necessarily rigid neck, lack
of feeling of touch in the right hand, and inability to stand or
sit for very long without great pain will prevent her from
working for a living and doing her own housework.
18. Prior to the accident plaintiff had been employed for three
years as a floorlady at Hart and Foster Textiles where she earned
take-home pay of $46.80 per week. Her duties included lifting
bolts of cloth weighing up to forty pounds in order to examine
and inspect them. Her loss of wages from October 28, 1950, the
date of the accident, to October 24, 1951, the date of the trial,
amounted to $2,433.60.
19. As a result of the injuries sustained in the accident,
plaintiff up to the time of the trial had incurred the following
hospital, medical and nursing expenses, which total $1,110:
Hospital bill $218.00
Doctors' bills 352.00
Nurse's bill 540.00
20. As a result of the injuries sustained in the accident,
plaintiff's future loss of earnings, reduced to their present
value, based on a reasonable life expectancy of 32 years and
taking into account her diminution of earning capacity as she
grows older, will amount to $40,000.
21. Plaintiff's future hospital and medical expenses resulting
from the injuries sustained in the accident will amount to
22. Plaintiff's past and future pain, suffering, and
inconvenience resulting from the injuries sustained in the
accident I assess in the amount of $10,000.
Conclusions of Law
1. This court has jurisdiction of the parties and the subject
matter of this action.
2. The accident and resultant injuries to plaintiff were
proximately caused by the negligence of defendant United States
of America's employee in his operation of the United States mail
truck within the scope of his employment.
3. The accident was not caused or contributed to by any
negligence on the part of plaintiff.
4. Plaintiff is entitled to a judgment against defendant in the
amount of $56,043.60, with costs.