Defendant has argued that plaintiff violated his duty to mitigate damages by failing to seek psychiatric treatment since at least September 1974, and especially in not pursuing an active course of treatment until January 1978. The Government asks the court to reduce or limit damages awarded to plaintiff accordingly.
In my analysis of the Government's prior contention that plaintiff's disabling neurotic condition was reasonably discoverable by him in September 1974, I pointed out that plaintiff reasonably believed that his ailments had a physiological origin; that they would improve with the passage of time, that he could not be expected to make a completely reasoned judgment about his emotional condition; and that he promptly sought psychiatric aid when so advised by competent authority. The same interpretation applies here on the issue of mitigation of damages. I believe that plaintiff sought medical assistance immediately and frequently for relief of his symptoms and followed the medical advice proffered to the best of his ability. He also moved quickly when told to see a psychiatrist. Moreover, he submitted to a drug regimen prescribed by Dr. Grossman, his first psychiatric contact, and did all that was asked of him. He assented to psychological evaluation when requested and there is no suggestion in this record that he refused or ignored treatment at any time. I find, therefore, that plaintiff did attempt to treat and cure his condition and cannot be charged with failure to mitigate his damages.
Plaintiff worked on a piece-rate basis and the work he turned out averaged $ 4.30 per hour for a 40-hour week regardless of the number of hours he actually worked. His wage loss to March 15, 1979, was $ 33,535 and he lost ten additional weeks since, or $ 1,892, making a total wage loss to date of $ 35,427. He will be unemployable until June 1, 1984, which will be 5 years at $ 8,944
or $ 44,720, which when reduced to present worth using a 6% factor amounts to $ 37,675.38.
His medical expenses to date are $ 10,758.07. Dr. Chodoff estimated that it would cost $ 4,000 per year to complete successful treatment of plaintiff. Allowing for a diminishing amount of treatment as plaintiff's condition improves, I believe $ 15,000 would be needed to cover this cost. Based on his past experience and assuming sufficient progress, drug requirements should not exceed $ 1,000. Under Pennsylvania law, future medical expenses are not reduced to present worth. Yost v. West Penn Railways Co., 336 Pa. 407, 9 A.2d 368 (1939).
Plaintiff's pain, and especially his suffering, will be graded during different time periods. I had more than adequate opportunity to observe plaintiff closely during the trial. He was a pathetic, dispirited, pitiful person to watch. His hands and face trembled noticeably. His facial expressions displayed deep anguish, bewilderment, depression, and hopelessness. He sobbed openly, wrung his handkerchief incessantly, and showed the results of heavy mental strain. He had been described by the examining psychiatrists with such terms as "frightened," "helpless," "clinging child," "seriously ill," "very depressed," "great emotional stress," "tremulous," and "despondent" and he gave every indication at trial that these symptoms had not abated. It would be difficult to imagine physical ailments that would cause more visible suffering than existed here. No good purpose would be served in itemizing and identifying the degree and depth of his suffering, except to say that it was substantial. Government counsel did not seriously challenge this item of damage except to say that it should have been mitigated, a position which I have rejected under the circumstances here present.
Accordingly, after careful consideration, I conclude that just compensation for pain and suffering here to be $ 10,000 for the period from March 24, 1974, to June 1, 1975; $ 25,000 per year for the period from June 1, 1975, to June 1, 1979; $ 25,000 per year from June 1, 1979, to June 1, 1981, at which time it is expected that his treatment will begin to alleviate his symptoms; $ 20,000 from June 1, 1981, to June 1, 1982; $ 10,000 from June 1, 1982, to June 1, 1983; and $ 5,000 from June 1, 1983, until June 1, 1984, when he is symptom free and able to resume employment.
The above recitation of the facts shall constitute findings of fact as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. rule 52, 28 U.S.C.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. Plaintiff filed an administrative claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq., within the statutory period which fully complied with the statute and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
2. The Federal Food and Drug Administration, the agency to which the claim was submitted, did not make a final disposition of the claim within six months and this was a final denial of the claim for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a).
3. Plaintiff's disabling neurotic problems constituted newly discovered evidence not reasonably discoverable at the time the administrative claim was filed. 28 U.S.C. § 2675(b).
4. The negligence of Bruce Dandridge, an employee of the Federal Government, was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's physical and mental injuries.
5. Plaintiff did not suffer from any pre-existing orthopedic problems or personality defects and the lifting incident of May 6, 1975, was not an intervening or superseding cause which would relieve defendant from liability.
6. Plaintiff is entitled to damages of $ 294,860.45 and judgment will be entered for that amount against the United States. The Clerk is hereby directed to enter judgment in accordance with this memorandum.