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found guilty of assault with a pistol with intent to do bodily harm, and sentenced to be dishonorably discharged from the Army, to forfeit all pay and allowances due or to become due, and to be confined at hard labor for 5 years in the United States Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kans. The sentences have been approved and ordered executed.
By the act of January 2, 1942, as amended (55 Stat. 880; 31 U. S. C. 224d, as amended by Public Law 39, 78th Cong.), the War and Navy Departments were authorized to settle administratively service-connected claims arising in foreign countries not in excess of $1,000 occurring on or after May 27, 1941, and not in excess of $5,000 occurring on and after December 6, 1941, and to report to Congress for consideration any such claims arising after December 6, 1941, as are in excess of $5,000. As this claim is in excess of $1,000 and arose prior to December 7, 1941, the claims commission is without authority to settle it and it cannot be reported to Congress under the above statute. Iceland granted the United States permission to use her territory for purposes of defense long prior to our actual entry into the war. One of the fundamental considerations for this permission was that the United States would “grant compensation for all damage occasioned to the inhabitants by their (United States) military activities” (par. 5, p. 3, Executive Agreement Series 232, July 1, 1941). Under the terms of this agreement we would appear not only to be morally bound but also to be bound by principles of international law to pay reasonable compensation for such damage and injury as our forces may have caused.
The regulations promulgated by the War Department under the act of January 2, 1942, as amended, supra, provide that claims may be paid regardless of whether the members of the military forces of the United States were acting within the course of their employment or were guilty of negligent or criminal acts. The art applies to death as well as to personal injury, and the regulations authorize payment of actual and reasonable expenses, medical care and treatment, hospitalization, and burial as well as reasonable compensation for pain, suffering, loss of earning capacity and, in connection with death claims, loss of prospective support, taking due account of local standards.
The evidence discloses that at the time of his death the deceased was not quite 22 years of age, in average health, and had an earning capacity of Kr. 7,000 ($1,081.47), annually, part of which he contributed to the support of his parents, the amount contributed by him constituting about one-third of their support. He was single and lived with his parents, Sigurdur Jonsson, his father, who is 71 years of age and is a fish sorter by occupation and employed only part time, and his mother, Thorlina Thordardottir, who is 56 years of age, a housewife by occupation and has no income of her own. The annual income of the father for the year preceding this occurrence was in the sum of Kr. 1,200 ($185.39). The claimants also have a daughter, Svanhavit Sigurdurdotter, who is 27 years of age, single, and a saleslady in a ladies' garment shop. This daughter also lives at home and it is reasonable to suppose that she contributes to the expense of the maintenance of the home. The claimants have three other daughters, all of whom are married and none of whom live at home. The father of the deceased is also the father of four sons and one daughter by a previous marriage.
The following items of expense were incurred because of the death of Thordur Sigurdsson: For medical care and attention due Dr. Bjarnison Sneabjounsson, Kr. 150 ($23.174); for hospital care and attention at St. Joseph's Hospital, Hafnarfjordur, Iceland, Kr. 150 ($23.174), for funeral and burial expenses, Kr. 1,048.57 ($162), or a total expense of $208.35. In addition to their claim for these items of expense the claimants at first asked the sum of Kr. 50,151.48 $7,742.15) for loss of support resulting from the death of their son, or a total claim in the amount of Kr. 51,500 ($7,956.49).
According to the general principles of compensation under Icelandic law, a person who in a blameworthy manner has been the cause of another's death shall defray all direct pecuniary expenses resulting from that person's death, including hospital expenses, doctor's fees, and funeral costs. He may also be ordered to pay compensation because of the loss of a breadwinner (art. 264, Penal Code, Act No. 19/1940), and in Iceland children are under a duty to contribute to the support of their parents (Maintenance of Relatives Act No. 52/1940, art. 6). Although self-defense may be a defense to an action, it is subject to the general limitation that resort must not be made to means of defense obviously more dangerous than justified by the assault. The United States Claims Commissio'), supported by an able and very complete study of the claim by a committee consisting of Thordur Egjolfsson, Justice of the Supreme Court of Iceland, and Ragnar Jonsson, judge of the criminal court of Reykjavik, who at the request of the commanding general were appointed by the Icelandic Ministry of Justice to act as advisers to
the United States Claims Commission, has concluded that the acts of the decedent were not of the nature or involving such provocation as to justify the use of weapons dangerous to life or to reduce the liability to payment of compensation for the consequences of that use of weapons. The Commission, supported by the committee, has also arrived at an amount they consider fair reasonable compensation.
The contribution of the deceased to the support of his parents was estimated to be Kr. 2,400 per year during the lives of both of them and Kr. 1,500 per year after the death of one. Such sums, based on a life expectancy of 8.25 years for the father, aged 70, and 21.15 years for the mother, aged 55 years, have been computed to have a present value, if paid in a lump sum, of Kr. 25,170. In two récent similar cases the British Government has paid awards of Kr. 25,000 each. The parents have now modified their claim for loss of support to Kr. 25,000, which, added to the sum of Kr. 1,348.57 for medical, hospital, and burial expenses amounts to a total of Kr. 26,348.57. The report of the Claims Commission states that in accordance with Icelandic law interest on such sum from the date of death is a proper item. Interest has been computed to December 31, 1943, making the total claim Kr. 29,510.033 ($4,559.30). The War Department, however, does not recommend the payment of interest on an unliquidated claim.
The parents of the deceased have executed a power of attorney duly authorizing their son, Jon Sigurdsson, to file the claim in their behalf, to accept the amount of compensation to be paid by the United States, and to receive the money to be paid as compensation.
After a careful examination of the record in this case, it is the opinion of the War Department that the claim presented is meritorious for the reason that the American soldiers used excessive force in assaulting the deceased with a deadly weapon under the circumstances herein disclosed. It is therefore believed that the United States should compensate the parents in a reasonable amount for loss of support by their son. The amount recommended, exclusive of the item of interest, appears to be fair and reasonable and to be in accordance with Icelandic standards. The sum of Kr. 26,348.57 at the established rate of exchange ($0.1545) equals the sum of $4,070.85.
The commanding general, Iceland Base Command, states that favorable public opinion will result from a prompt settlement of the Sigurdsson case and he recommends that the matter be presented to the Congress and that exery effort be made to expedite payment of the claim as modinied and approved.
Accordingly, it is recommended that a bill be introduced in the Congress, substantially as per draft enclosed, authorizing and directing the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the sum of $4,070.85 to Jon Sigurdsson as attorney in fact for his parents, Sigurdur Jonsson and Thorolina Thordardottir, of Hafnarfjordur, Iceland, for and on their behalf, in full settlement of all claims against the United States for the death of their son, Thordur Sigurdsson, who was shot and killed by an enlisted soldier in the military forces of the United States on November 8, 1941, at Hafnarfjordur, Iceland; provided the claimants accept such sum in full settlement of all claims against the United States for the death of their son. A similar letter has been addressed to the Speaker, House of Representatives.
The fiscal effect of the bill is manifest.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that there is no objection to the submission of this proposed legislation for the consideration of the Congress. Sincerely yours,
HENRY L. STIMSON,
Secretary of War. O
JULIA PETERSON MILLS
FEBRUARY 9, 1945.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and
ordered to be printed
Mr. McGEHEE, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the
(To accompany H. R. 234]
the bill do pass,
The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 234) for the relief of Julia Peterson Mills, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that
An identical bill was favorably reported by your committee during the Seventy-eighth Congress, but was objected to and recommitted to this committee.
The facts will be found fully set forth in House Report No. 390, Seventy-eighth Congress, first session, which is appended hereto and made a part of this report.
(H. Rept. No. 390, 78th Cong., 1st sess.) purpose of the proposed legislation is to pay to Julia Peterson Mills, of Detroit, Mich., the sum of $1,500 in full settlement of all claims against the United States, for personal injuries sustained to her husband, who fell from a tree and was injured on September 18, 1937, while performing assigned work on United States Public Health Service reservation, Lexington, Ky.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Mr. Mills was assigned to the United States Public Health Service hospital at Lexington, Ky., for the reason that he was found to be addicted to the use of tertain habit-forming drugs, for which proper care and treatment is received until cured or until term of sentence expires.
On September 18, 1937, he was ordered to assist in removing dead limbs from a tree on the hospital grounds; that while carrying out this assignment, he fell from the tree, breaking his right leg. The break was a very serious one, which exposed the bone, and presented extraordinary problems in its treatment.
Mr. Mills' sentence expired on October 20, 1938, 13 months after the accident, but as his leg had not at that time healed satisfactorily, he was retained, at his request, as an ex-prisoner-patient. By July 1939 it appeared that Mr. Mills' leg could not be expected to heal satisfactorily, and after careful consideration and consultation with outside specialists, his right leg was amputated below the knee on July 7, 1939.
The Federal Security Agency, in a report to the committee dated July 29, 1941, makes the following recommendation on the merits of the bill:
"Of course, the late Harry Mills suffered permanent injury in the loss of his right leg as a result of his accident. Probably, except for that accident, he would have returned to some gainful employment immediately after the expiration of his sentence on October 20, 1938. Accordingly, it would appear that some compensation is in order regardless of whether his death is considered in determining the amount to be paid."
Your committee, after carefully considering the merits of the case, are of the opinion that Mr. Mills' wife and only heir, Julia Peterson Mills, should be compensated in the amount of $1,500. Your committee do not feel that the Federal Government is in any way responsible for the death of Mr. Mills, and the payment of $1,500 is merely compensation in full for pain and suffering resulting from the loss of his leg, and also salary lost by him had he been able to return to private employment. Appended hereto is the report of the Federal Security Agency, together with other pertinent evidence.
FEDERAL SECURITY AGENCY,
Washington, July 29, 1941. Hon. Dan R. McGEHEE, Chairman, Committee on Claims,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Reference is made to your letter of June 16, 1941, to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, requesting a report on H. R. 5048, a bill for the relief of Julia Peterson Mills.
This bill would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to pay to Julia Peterson Mills, of Detroit, Mich., an amount not to exceed $5,000 in monthly installments of $100 each in full settlement of all claims against the Government on account of the death of her husband, the late Harry Mills, who fell from a tree and was injured on September 18, 1937, while performing assigned work on the United States Public Health Service hospital reservation at Lexington, Ky.
Information contained in the files of this Agency indicates that the said Harry Mills died in the United States Public Health Service hospital at Lexington, Ky., on August 18, 1939, the immediate causes of his death being appendicitis and peritonitis with pneumonia as a contributing cause.
As you know, the United States Public Health Service hospital at Lexington is an institution for the care and treatment of drug addicts. Any individual serving a sentence in a Federal penal institution who is found to be addicted to the use of certain habit-forming drugs is transferred to this institution, where he receives proper care and treatment until cured or until the term of his sentence expires. Such patients may stay beyond the expiration of their respective sentences if they so desire and their condition requires it.
The late Harry Mills was a prisoner-patient of this institution and was apparently being successfully treated for drug addiction when, on September 18, 1937 (23 months before his death), he broke his right leg while assisting in removing dead limbs from a tree on the hospital grounds. The break was a very serious one which exposed the bone and presented extraordinary problems in its treatment.
Mr. Mills' sentence expired on October 20, 1938 (13 months after the accident), but as his leg had not at that time healed satisfactorily, he was retained, at his request, as an ex-prisoner-patient. By July 1939, it appeared that Mr. Mills' leg could not be expected to heal satisfactorily and, after careful consideration and consultation with outside specialists, his right leg was amputated below the knee on July 7, 1939. The operation was successful and was healing satisfactorily when, on August 8, 1939, Mr. Mills complained of some pain in the right lower quadrant of his abdomen. The symptoms were those of acute appendicitis, but the patient stated that his appendix had been removed several years before and a scar indicated that he had undergone such an operation. His condition grew steadily and alarmingly worse and he failed to respond to treatment for 48 hours when it was determined to perform an exploratory operation. The operation was performed on August 10, 1939, and a gangrenous appendix was found but was in such condition that it could not be removed. Drains were inserted and the would closed. Mr. Mills appeared to grow better until, on August 16, 1939, he developed pneumonia and passed away at 5:25 p. m. on August 18, 1939.
It is impossible to say what connection existed between Mr. Mills' injury on September 18, 1937, and his death on August 18, 1939. At the time of his death, he had not recovered from the original injury, but the immediate causes of his death appear to have been unrelated to that injury, except that, perhaps, his weakened condition resulting from his long suffering following the injury left him in not the best condition to combat those developments which caused his death. Whether he would have recovered had it not been for the injury is problematical.
Of course the late Harry Mills suffered permanent injury in the loss of his right leg as a result of his accident. Probably, except for that accident, he would have returned to some gainful employment immediately after the expiration of his sentence on October 20, 1938. Accordingly, it would appear that some compensation is in order regardless of whether his death is considered in determining the amount to be paid.
As for Mrs. Mills' claim for compensation, it is noted that she and her husband were separated some time before his conviction and sentence. She is a high-wire performer in carnivals and circuses, and is self-supporting and apparently has never been dependent upon her husband for her livelihood. Mr. Mills, before his sentence, sold novelties and articles at fairs, circuses, and on street corners, but the amount of his earnings is not known. Beyond these facts, the extent of Mrs. Mills' financial loss is not indicated by the files of this Agency.
In this situation, it is suggested that your committee may desire to provide for a somewhat smaller cash settlement for Mrs. Mills than the proposed $5,000, or it may be wise, in view of the great difficulties presented in determining the extent of damage in this case, to authorize and direct the United States Employees' Compensation Commission to consider and settle the claim as if Mr. Mills had been an employee of the Government. For the information of your committee, there are enclosed the following:
1. Photostat of letter dated June 27, 1941, to the Surgeon General from the medical officer in charge, United States Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Ky.
2. Copy of letter dated March 6, 1940, to Mrs. Julia Peterson Mills from the medical officer in charge, United States Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Ky.
3. Copy of letter dated May 21, 1941, to the United States Employees' Compensation Commission from the medical officer in charge, United States Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Ky.
4. Photostat of letter dated July 16, 1941, to the Surgeon General from the medical officer in charge, United States Public Health Service Hospital, Lexington, Ky. Sincerely yours,
Paul V. McNutt, Administrator.
Mount CLEMENS, Mich., August 28, 1941. HONORABLE Sir: Your letter just received. It had been delayed and had to send a stamp before I could get it. I am at this address temporarily, then back to Detroit, but will let you know.
My late husband, Harry Mills, and I were never really separated until I had my bad accident. That happened in Ecorse the 5th of July, 1935. He always helped me for I never worked very steady, and when I did, he was working on the same show or fair. In 1933 and 1934 he worked at the Ford plant after taking a cure and we were getting along fine until he was laid off and went on the road again. That was the summer of 1934. The winter of the-or I should say part of the vinter I stayed at the Morris Hotel for Harry was working with another fellow in and out of Detroit; he came to see me every day or so and gave me money to
When summer came of 1935, I moved to a tourist camp on Fort and Schaefer so that I might put up my rigging and practice. Harry came out there two or three times and gave me money to live on. My first date was the Fourth of July celebration at Ecorse. I fell and was taken to the Wyandotte Hospital where I spent the rest of the summer. Harry came to see me and gave me money to pay the hospital and friends helped me pay for incidentals. I stayed with some friends in Melvindale and Harry came there and said he had better stay in Detroit so he could find something to do so he could help me for I was still on