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SADOWSKI v. UNITED STATES

November 27, 1995

JAMES R. SADOWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

 Joyner, J.

 November 27, 1995

 This case arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act was tried before this Court in a two-hour, non-jury trial on the morning of November 6, 1995. The plaintiff, who presented his case without the assistance of counsel, is James R. Sadowski, a veteran who was undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania during the time period relevant to this lawsuit. Mr. Sadowski has alleged in his complaint that the medical center staff, employees of the federal Government, negligently failed to protect him from a man the plaintiff identifies only as "Mr. Robinson," another patient who had threatened to "get" Mr. Sadowski. As a result of this negligence, Mr. Robinson was able to strike Mr. Sadowski during a pick-up basketball game, causing Mr. Sadowski to land on and injure his right shoulder.

 The Government does not dispute that Mr. Sadowski fell on his shoulder and injured it during a pick-up basketball game at the V.A. Hospital. Nor does it quibble with Mr. Sadowski with respect to his damages. Instead, the Government argues that V.A. staff personnel (the "program administrators") were not negligent, that the injury suffered by Mr. Sadowski was unrelated causally to any actions or failure to act on the part of program administrators. Alternatively, the Government argues that by voluntarily joining the basketball game, Mr. Sadowski assumed the risk of injury. The Government has submitted its proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, the matter is now ripe for decision. *fn1" Accordingly, the Court makes the following factual findings, legal conclusions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 52.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. On November 13, 1991, Mr. Sadowski entered the V.A. Medical Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania for treatment of alcohol addiction. Mr. Sadowski was admitted to the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit ("SATU") on a voluntary inpatient basis.

 2. SATU patients were required to report to program administrators any infraction of the program's "behavioral cautions, rules and prohibitions" committed by any other patient.

 3. Mr. Sadowski reported an infraction committed by a patient the plaintiff refers to as "Mr. Robinson."

 4. Mr. Sadowski testified that Mr. Robinson threatened to retaliate against him for his reporting of the infraction.

 5. Mr. Sadowski also testified that he brought the threat to the attention of Alvin Brooks, a therapist and program supervisor.

 6. Mr. Brooks testified that he was never made aware of any threat.

 7. Mr. Brooks kept careful and meticulous notes concerning the treatment and progress of the patients.


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