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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

following

REPORT

[To accompany H. R. 242)

The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 242) for the relief of Ruben M. Herren, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that . the bill do pass,

An identical bill was favorably reported by your committee during the Seventy-eighth Congress but was objected to on the floor of the House and recommitted to this committee.

The facts will be found fully set forth in House Report No. 755, Seventy-eighth Congress, first session, which is appended hereto and made a part of this report.

(H. Rept. No. 755, 78th Cong., 1st sess. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to pay the sum of $833.80 to Ruben M. Herren, of Smyrna, Ga., in full settlement of all claims against the United States for personal injuries sustained as a result of the collision between the car in which he was riding with a United States Army truck on United States HighFay No. 41, in Cobb County, Ga., on September 25, 1942.

STATEMENT OF FACTS It appears that on September 25, 1942, about 8:15 p. m., an Army truck, operated by a civilian employee of the War Department on official business, to which a heavily loaded trailer was attached, was traveling in a southerly direction on United States Highway No. 41 toward a sharp left-hand curve about 3 miles south of Smyrna, Ga., and was following a truck owned by the Mason-Dixon Lines. The weather was clear, and the road was paved and dry. At the same time a 1931 Ford sedan owned and operated by J. F. Hite, Route 1, Smyrna, Ga., 20 years of age, was proceeding from the opposite direction upon the same highway and rounding such curve at an estimated speed of about 30 miles per hour. Mr. Hite had as passengers in his automobile Ruben M. Herren, 48 years of age; Glenn Jay Darby, 17 years of age; and Chester L. Laird, Jr., 25 years of age, all of Route 1, Smyrna, Ga. It appears that just prior to approaching the curve the Government driver pulled over to the left of the center of the road and attempted to pass the truck of the Mason-Dixon Lines which he had been following, but before he could complete such movement his truck was struck by the automobile of Mr. Hite. The impact caused Mr. Hite's car to overturn upon the east side of the highway. As a result of the accident Mr. Hite's car was damaged and he sustained minor personal injuries necessitating medical treatment at a cost of $8. Mr. Darby sustained only minor personal injuries, and Mr. Laird asserts that he sustained a cut on the left side of his face and on his arm, two broken ribs, and contusions and abrasions. Mr. Herren asserts that he sustained a broken nose, a 2-inch cut on his forehead, two fractured ribs on the left side, and a bruise of his left arm and of his right knee. He was taken to the Marietta Hospital, Marietta, Ga., where he received treatment and was later treated at the Veterans Administration Hospital at Atlanta, Ga.

The War Department is opposed to this legislation in that their claim is on the ground that there was contributory negligence on the part of the driver of the civilian car in that he rounded the curve on the highway without keeping to the right of the centerline of the road, this being the statement made by the driver of the Government truck. An affidavit signed by Mr. Herren states that these were not the true facts; that the automobile in which he was riding was on the right side of the highway—that is, on the north side and to the right of the centerline of the road and the truck which was approaching from the opposite direction was also on the north side of the highway, being on the same side with the civilian car and on the opposite side of the white line that it should have been. The truck had just passed another truck, having overtaken it from the rear, and, being on a curve, could not get back on its right side to avoid the collision. At the point where the automobile met the truck the view of both the driver of the truck and the driver of the civilian car was obscured from the curve in the highway. The truck swerved in an attempt to get back on the right side of the road but struck the civilian car before he could do so. At the point of the collision the pavement was 24 feet in width and in good condition. He also states that his opinion as to the speed of the approaching truck was not less than 45 miles per hour, and the speed of the car in which he was riding was from 30 to 35 miles per hour. The civilian car was knocked approximately 40 feet off the highway and was completely wrecked. Affidavits from other occupants of the car substantiate Mr. Herren's statement, which is included in this report. Your

committee is of the opinion that the collision was caused by the negligence of the Government driver in passing another vehicle at an unreasonable rate of speed and in the curve of a highway; that the claim of Mr. Herren is a just one And he should be compensated; and that from the record the amount of $833.80 is a just and reasonable sum to be paid. Therefore, your committee recommends favorable consideration to the bill. Appended hereto is the report of the War Department, together with other pertinent evidence.

WAR DEPARTMENT,

Washington, D. C., August 18, 1943. Hon. Dan R. McGEHEE,

Chairman, Committee on Claims, House of Representatives. DEAR MR. McGEHEE: The War Department is opposed to the enactment of H. R. 2627, Seventy-eighth Congress, a bill which would authorize and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay to Ruben M. Herren, of Route 1, Smyrna, Ga., "the sum of $833.80

in full settlement of all claims against the United

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States because of personal injuries, including the value of lost time and hospital and physicians' bills, incurred in a collision with a truck operated by and under the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers, War Department,, on September 25, 1942, on United States Highway No. 41, in Cobb County, Ga.'

It appears that on September 25, 1942, about 8:15 p. m., an Army truck, operated by a civilian employee of the War Department on official business, to which a heavily loaded trailer was attached, was traveling in a southerly direction on United States Highway No. 41 toward a sharp left-hand curve about 3 miles south of Smyrna, Ga., and was following a truck owned by the Mason-Dixon Lines. The weather was clear and the road was paved and dry. At the same time & 1931 Ford sedan, owned and operated by J. F. Hite, Route 1, Smyrna, Ga., 20 years of age, was proceeding from the opposite direction upon the same highway and rounding such curve at an estimated speed of about 30 miles per hour. Mr. Hite had as passengers in his automobile Ruben M. Herren, 48 years of age; Glenn Jay Darby, 17 years of age; and Chester L. Laird, Jr., 25 years of age, all of Route 1, Smyrna, Ga. It appears that just prior to approaching the curve the Government driver pulled over to the left of the center of the road and attempted to pass the truck of the Mason-Dixon Lines which he had been following, but before he could complete such movement his truck was struck by the automobile of Mr. Hite. The impact caused Mr. Hite's car to overturn upon the east side of the highway. As a result of the accident, Mr. Hite's car was damaged and he sustained minor personal injuries necessitating medical treatment at a cost of $8. Mr. Darby sustained only minor personal injuries, and Mr. Laird asserts that he sustained a cut on the left side of his face and on his arm, two broken ribs, and contusions and abrasions. Mr. Herren asserts that he sustained a broken nose, a 2-inch cut on his forehead, two fractured ribs on the left side, and a bruise of his left arm and of his right knee. He was taken to the Marietta Hospital, Marietta, Ga., where he received treatment, and was later treated at the Veterans' Administration Hospital at Atlanta, Ga.

The Army driver stated:

"I am Loyd S. Hays (white), 117 Parker Street NW., Atlanta, Ga. I am a truck driver for the United States Army Engineers, SAD-Equipment Pool, 500 Stewart Avenue SW., Atlanta, Ga.

"On September 25, 1942, I was returning from Tullahoma, Tenn., driving & Government tractor and trailer No. 12675, which was loaded with a caterpillar tractor. The time was 8:15 p. m. I was driving south on the old Marietta highway, Route No. 41. I passed another truck going south and as I pulled back on the right sida of the highway a 1931 Ford sedan came around a curve going north and driving in about the center of the highway. When I first saw the car it was about 75 to 100 feet away and had very dim lights. Tha left wheels of thë tractor and trailer I was driving were about on the center white line. The Ford hit my left side striking left front fender, left rear wheel of tractor and left rear wheel of trailer. The Ford turned over on the east side of the highway. I drove off the right side of the highway and stopped about 75 feet from where the collision occurred. William J. Jones, another truck driver traveling with me and an employee of the United States Army Engineers, and I went to wher; the Ford had turned over. We found four men who were riding in the Ford. All were injured la some way or other. Cobb County officers were called to the scene of the accident. The four men were sent to Marietta, Ga., to the hospital for treatment.

"There was a strong odor of alcohol in and about the wrecked car. The officers found a broken beer bottle and also a bottle containing some whisky. After the officers had completed their investigaton I was told to go on to Atlanta, Gaz which I did, and reported the accident to Mr. E. P. Ragan at the equipment pool.

Mr. William J. Jones, a truck driver for the Corps of Engineers, who was riding with the Army driver stated:

“About 3 miles south of Smyrna, Ga., Mr. Hays passed another truck going south in the same direction as we were going. As he passed the truck and was pulling back over to the right side of the highway a 1931 Ford sedan driven by Buster Hite, going north, came around the curve and near the north end of the curve struck the left front fender and the left rear wheel of the tractor and the left side of the trailer. The accident occurred about the center of the highway. The Ford turned over, and Mr. Hays pulled off to the right side of the highway and stopped. We went over to where the Ford was and found four men had been Injured. I went to a house nearby and called for an ambulance and the police. The four men were then sent to Marietta, Ga., to the hospital.

"The accident was investigated by Cobb County Officers Strickland and Marler.

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“There was a strong odor of alcohol in and about the Ford. There was a broken beer bottle and a bottle containing some whisky, which the officers took with them after the investigation.

“We were told that there were no charges against Mr. Hays. We came on into Atlanta and reported the accident to Mr E. P. Ragan at the equipment pool.”

J. F. (Buster) Hite, the driver of the car in which Mr. Herren was riding, in a statement dated September 26, 1942, said:

“On September 25, 1942, about 8:15 p. m., I was returning to my home from the Bungaloes, a drive-in place on the old Marietta Highway, Route 41. I was driving a 1931 Model A Ford, 4-door sedan. I was driving north and was going around a curve at about 25 or 30 miles per hour. As I came out of the north end of the curve I met a Government tractor and trailer, driven by Loyd S. Hays. The Government trailer was coming south. I saw the lights of the truck when I was about 25 or 30 feet away. As it pulled out to pass another truck we collided, striking the left side of my Ford and the truck. The impact caused my car to turn over. There were three other men in the car with me at the time of the accident—Glenn Darby, Luther Laird, and Rube Herren-all of Route No. 1, Smyrna, Ga. My car was demolished and the four of us were injured. We were sent to Marietta, Ga., to the hospital for treatment. I had a cut place on my forehead and was bruised about the arm legs. There was a white line in center of highway but no yellow line of caution where the wreck occurred. I had my headlights and cowl side lights burning. The driver, Loyd S. Hays, and William J. Jones, who was with Mr. Hays, stopped and remained at the scene of the accident until Cobb County officers arrived and sent the four of us to the hospital." Glenn J. Darby in a statement dated September 25, 1942, stated:

“We were returning from the bungalows about 8:15 p. m., going north. As we had about completed going around a curve we met a truck going south. Just before we got to the truck I saw the light of another truck pull out from behind the front truck. As the front of the second truck, a Government truck, was about middle ways of the trailer of the front truck, the car I was riding in and the Government truck collided. I was knocked out for about 5 or 10 minutes. When I came to I was about 15 feet from the car. In about 15 or 20 minutes the Cobb County deputy sheriff arrived and investigated the accident. Mr. Marler, deputy sheriff, found a bottle containing whisky.

"I was carried to the Marietta Hospital at Marietta, Ga., for treatment, where it was found that I was only slightly injured and was dismissed.

"I would say that we were traveling about 30 miles per hour when the collision occurred."

Chester L. Laird, Jr., in a statement dated September 25, 1942, said:

"As we completed rounding curve we met two trucks following each other and I saw one light of the last truck come out from behind the front truck, and almost immediately afterward the second light (right light) also appeared from behind the front truck and I would say that when the collision occurred the front of the Government truck was about middle ways of the trailer of the front truck. The impact threw me against some object which knocked me unconscious. I was unconscious for about 15 or 20 minutes.

“While at the Bungaloes we purchased 1 quart of beer. I had taken two swallows out of the bottle when the accident occurred. I regained consciousness and was carried to the Marietta Hospital in Marietta, Ga., by Dobbin's ambulance.

I remained there until Sunday, September 27, at about il a. m.

“My injuries consisted of a cut on the left side of my face about 2 inches long, also a cut 2 inches long between the elbow and the wrist. I had two ribs broken on the left side, and skin knocked off my back on the right side about 2 inches from the backbone, about the size of a quarter. I was sitting on the back seat of the Ford, on the left behind the driver, Buster Hite, when the collision occurred. The car I was in was going about 30 miles per hour.

Ruben M. Herren in a statement dated September 25, 1942, said:

"On Friday night, September 25, 1942, at about 8:15 p. m. I had been to the Bungaloes, a drive-in place on the old Marietta Highway, Route No. 41, with three other men, Chester Laird, Jr., Glenn Darby, and Buster Hite.

We were returning home, driving north on Route No. 41. As we completed rounding curve we met two trucks following each other, and I saw the light of the last truck come out from behind the front truck, then I saw that we were going to wreck, and I turned my head to the right, and I don't remember anything until after I was in the ambulance going to Marietta Hospital, and I asked to be carried to 48 Hospital, I was treated at Marietta Hospital and later transferred to the 48 Hospital.

"Before the accident I had purchased a half pint of whisky, and Chester Laird took one drink and Mr. Edwards, a filling station operator, and myself, drank most of it, except the part left in the bottle.

"My injuries consist of a broken nose, 2-inch cut in forehead, a severe laceration on left side of my head, two fractured ribs on left side, bruised left arm at elbow, and a bruise on right kneecap."

Dayton Ratliff, driver of the Mason-Dixon Lines, who witnessed the accident, in a statement dated September 25, 1942, stated:

"On September 25, 1942, about 8 p. m., I was driving south on old Marietta Highway, Route No. 41, about 3 miles south of Smyrna, Ga. I saw the reflection of the light of a car following me, and then saw the lights of a car meeting me. The car behind me pulled out to pass. I pulled to the right-hand side of the road, and as the car behind me started to pass, which was a Government truck and trailer, and rear end of trailer was about even with the cab on truck I was driving, met a Ford going north and they had a collision.

"I drove about 100 feet from where the collision occurred. The Government truck drove on about 400 feet to a side road and pulled off the highway. When I first saw the Ford approaching it was about 400 or 500 feet in front of my truck.

“On the evening that this accident occurred the weather was fair and visibility good."

H. L. Strickland, deputy sheriff, Cobb County, Ga., stated: "The truck had been moved quite a distance from where the wreck occurred when I arrived at scene of accident, but from the looks of the Ford the left front fender struck the back of the truck front fender. The injured parties had also been removed to the hospital before we reached the wreck. Therefore it is hard to determine who would be at fault when the parties involved were gone and one or both cars having been moved."

It appears from a drawing of the scene of the accident, made by an officer of the Corps of Engineers, that the civilian car operated by J. F. Hite rounded the curve traveling over the painted center line of the road, that it struck the left side of the trailer attached to the Army truck; and that at the time of the collision the left wheels of the trailer were traveling slightly over the painted center line of the highway.

It appears that Mr. Herren incurred medical expenses as a result of this accident in the amount of $30 as evidenced by a receipted bill in that amount from Dr. M. M. Hagood, Marietta, Ga., dated July 1, 1943. It does not appear that he incurred any hospital expenses. He was admitted as a patient in the Veterans' Administration Hospital, Atlanta, Ga., on October 2, 1942, where he remained until October 16, 1942. He received hospitalization and medical treatment in that institution as a veteran of World War I without charge. Dr. J. H. Hall, ward surgeon, Veterans' Administration Hospital, Atlanta, in a statement dated October 16, 1942, said:

"He (Ruben M. Herren) was found to have a fracture of the nose and lacerations of the forehead and face. Fracture of the left frontal bone and ribs not found. He has been treated for fracture of the nose and lacerations which have all improved and healed with very little disfigurement. Laboratory reports while here are all normal. Respiration, pulse, temperature, and blood pressure normal at time of discharge. Maximum hospital benefit has been attained in this case.”

The investigating officer found that both drivers were negligent. He stated in his report that"The accident

could have been avoided, as there was negligence on the part of both drivers.

"1. Negligence of Government truck driver: Driver of Government truck passing another truck without having enough clear vision before entering curve.

"The negligence of Government truck driver is minimized by the fact that the portion of the highway where the accident occurred had only the white line and did not have any yellow caution line to indicate that passing another vehicle was not in order. The accident was at night and our drivers observe the yellow caution line at all times.

"2. Negligence of private car: Driving around curve in the center of the highway without clear vision of approaching traffic. In addition, the occupants of the private car were drinking and apparently were not watching where their car was going."

The division engineer, South Atlantic Division, after reviewing the facts in this case, reported on March 13, 1943, that

"The Government driver was not held responsible for the damage to the sedan and occupants.

The vehicle was coming around a curve in the center of the road

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