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Brinson v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 24, 2015

EUGENE KENNETH BRINSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MATTHEW W. BRANN, District Judge.

BACKGROUND:

Plaintiff Eugene Kenneth Brinson filed a complaint under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. ยง 2671, et. seq. against the United States of America for injuries he suffered after eating chicken tainted with salmonella while incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan in Waymart, Pennsylvania. The Defendant, the United States of America, conceded liability; accordingly, the matter proceeded to a bench trial on June 23, 2015 on the issue of damages only.

This Memorandum Opinion reflects the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a).

FINDINGS OF FACT FOUND BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE:

1. On June 25, 2011, Brinson was a federal inmate incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary-Canaan in Waymart, Pennsylvania.
2. Brinson was negligently served and consumed chicken tainted with salmonella while duly incarcerated at the federal facility.
3. Brinson testified that he was ill with symptoms from salmonella for sixty (60) days. This testimony is not credible as it is not supported by Brinson's medical records detailed below.
4. Defense Exhibit B contained Brinson's pertinent medical records relating to the salmonella incident in chronological order and indicated that Brinson first presented to medical staff on July 7, 2011. At that visit, the clinician wrote that Brinson "was sick last week with nausea/diarrhea/stomach pains but this has since resolved."
5. The Court determines that Brinson did have the symptoms of salmonella that he testified to - stomach pain, cramping, nausea, dehydration, and diarrhea for up to seven (7) days based on Exhibit B, Brinson's medical records (Exhibit B), together with the testimony of Dr. McDaniel Holloway.
6. Dr. Holloway is a physician who is board certified in emergency medicine. Dr. Holloway was a physician at USP-Canaan at the time of the salmonella outbreak; he was at home at the time of the outbreak, and was called into the facility to begin treatment of inmates who had consumed the salmonella-laced chicken, including Brinson.
7. Dr. Holloway and the rest of the prison medical team went to each unit "door-to-door" providing treatment.
8. Dr. Holloway testified that the standard medical protocol for treating salmonella, according to both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, is hydration. Accordingly, the initial treatment of the sickened inmates generally, not specific to Brinson, was hydration, primarily through issuance of Gatorade sports drink.
9. Dr. Holloway further testified that there was no indication from Brinson's medical records that the salmonella infection went out of his gastrointestinal tract and into his blood stream to cause sepsis, as Brinson's vital signs were within normal limits at his July 7; July 22; August 4; August 15; August 18; September 1; and November 29, 2011 medical visits. Had the salmonella infection traveled outside of Brinson's gastrointestinal tract, his vital signs would not have been within normal limits at these visits. Dr. ...

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