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HOLLAND v. UNITED STATES

January 29, 1996

JACQUELINE HOLLAND, Plaintiff, against UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEENAN

 JOHN F. KEENAN, United States District Judge:

 The action was tried by the Court, without a jury, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2402. The case was brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b).

 Plaintiff slipped and fell on Wednesday, March 17, 1993 at or around 4:58 p.m. in the United States Post Office at 5517 Broadway, Bronx, New York, the Kingsbridge Branch. Plaintiff was 48 years old on March 17, 1993. At the time, she weighed approximately 160 pounds. Plaintiff was, and still is, a teacher at Junior High School 145 at 1000 Teller Avenue, Bronx, New York.

 Plaintiff was driven to the Post Office by her work colleague, Jacqueline Watkins, for the purpose of purchasing stamps. Ms. Watkins waited in the car during the time that plaintiff was in the Post Office. Ms. Watkins never entered the Post Office. March 17, 1993 was a day on which it alternately snowed and rained.

 Plaintiff entered the Post Office and went to the customer waiting line. The floor under the customer waiting line was covered by a mat. Inside the entryway, at the entrance to the customer waiting line, there was a sign stating "Caution - Wet Floor." The sign is Defendant's Exhibit A. When she reached the front of the waiting line, plaintiff proceeded to a postal window. The clerk at that window directed plaintiff to another window nearby.

 While walking from the first window to the next, plaintiff slipped and fell. The two windows and the area in between where plaintiff fell are pictured on Plaintiff's Exhibit 1. The area where plaintiff fell was wet and was not covered by a mat. Before she fell, plaintiff was looking straight ahead and did not look at the floor. The lighting in the Post Office was normal and plaintiff had no trouble seeing. Plaintiff did not lose consciousness at any time.

 Plaintiff was driven from the Post Office to Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, New York by Ms. Watkins. Plaintiff was examined at Lawrence Hospital and x-rays were taken. Approximately two and one-half hours later, plaintiff was instructed to go home and rest, to place warm compresses on her neck, and to stay home from work for one or two days. She was told to take Motrin for pain.

 Lumbar and cervical electromyography ("EMG") tests were performed on plaintiff by Dr. St. Hill at Central Medical Rehabilitation Services P.C. on May 11, 1993. The lumbar EMG showed normal latencies and velocities. The cervical EMG showed normal latencies, velocities and F-waves, except the right median nerve had slightly increased latencies. MRIs were recommended, but were not performed. A cat-scan was scheduled, but was not performed. Follow-up x-rays were scheduled, but were not taken.

 Plaintiff had further appointments with Dr. Kesten on the following dates: April 8, April 29, May 6 and May 13, 1993. Plaintiff did not see Dr. Kesten after May 13, 1993.

 Plaintiff had further appointments with Central Medical Rehabilitation Services P.C. on the following dates: April 2, April 6, April 24, April 30, May 20 and June 3, 1993. Plaintiff did not go to Central Medical Rehabilitation Services P.C. for treatment after June 3, 1993. Plaintiff did not seek or receive any medical services or physical therapy with respect to her alleged injuries after June 3, 1993.

 Plaintiff returned to work approximately four weeks after her fall and did not lose any regular wages as a result of her fall. *fn1"

 In all, four witnesses testified at trial. Plaintiff was the only witness on her side. Defendant called three postal workers, including Allen Stern, the then Branch Manager at the Kingsbridge station. Unfortunately, the recollections of all four were seriously flawed as to the specific events of the day in question. Plaintiff testified that "I just don't recall seeing the sign that day." (Tr. 22). She didn't remember either way whether the caution sign was present or absent, although the parties stipulated in the Joint Pretrial Order to its being present (para. 7). Further she testified that, by the time she left school with her colleague, just before arriving at the Post Office "it was pretty clear, it cleared up. It wasn't raining." (Tr. 17). This is contradicted by the ...


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