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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
F. L. GAUSE AND THE LEGAL GUARDIAN OF ROSALIND
AND HELEN GAUSE, MINORS
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. 1860)
The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 1360) for the relief of F. L. Gause and the legal guardian of Rosalind and Helen Gause, minors, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without 'amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.
An identical bill was favorably reported by this committee and passed the House in the Seventy-eighth Congress. The bill passed the Senate, amended, and was not reported out of conference
before final adjournment.
The facts will be found fully set forth in House Report No. 1654, Seventy-eighth Congress, which is appended hereto and made a part
of this report.
(H. Rept. No. 1664, 78th Cong., 2d sess.) The purpose of the proposed legislation is to appropriate the sum of $10,000 to F. L. Gause, of Galveston, Tex., for property damage, personal injuries, and permanent disability to himself, and medical and hospital expenses incurred for himself and his two minor daughters; to pay the sum of $12,500 to the legal guardian of Rosalind Gause, a minor, for personal injuries and permanent disability; and to pay the sum of $1,500 to the legal guardian of Helen Gause, a minor, for personal injuries and permanent disability, as a result of a United States Aimy airplane crashing into the automobile in which they were riding on West Beach Road, Galveston Island, Galveston County, Tex., on February 21, 1943.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
It appears that on February 21, 1943, an Army airplane piloted by a commis-, sioned officer, with another commissioned officer and three enlisted men as crew members, took off on an authorized local training flight from the Army Air Base at Galveston, Tex. About 11:45 a. m., the plane was flying in a westerly direction over the West Beach Road at a very low altitude about 5 miles from ihe city limits of Galveston. The record reveals that the motors appeared to be functioning normally and there was no evidence of mechanical distress. At about the same time a 1935 Ford coach, owned and operated by Francis L. Gause, of Oleaner Homes, Galveston, in which his six children were riding as passengers, was proceeding cast on the West Beach Road. Mr. Gause observed the plane approaching him at an altitude which he estimated to be approximately 50 feet. When the plane reached a point directly ahead of the civilian vehicle, it dived and the right wing lowered, striking the top of the car. The force of the impact tore the wing of the plane loose, and the plane crashed into the sea and the entire crew was lost. The top of the car was ripped off and it was whirled around and thrown into the surf in an upright position a few yards offshore.
As a result of the accident the civilian car was damaged beyond repair. Mr. Gause and two of his children, Rosalind, age 4 years, and Helen, age 6 years, sustained serious personal injuries. After the accident Mr. Gause and his two injured daughters were taken to the John Sealy Hospital, Galveston, Tex., for treatment. Mr. Gause sustained a compound comminuted fracture of the left elbow and extensive lacerations of the forearm. Dr. G. W. N. Eggers, of Galveston, made the following statement on June 7, 1943, concerning Mr. Gause's injuries:
""As a result of the accident Mr. Gause has a severely damaged left arm, and I understand he is left handed. He will be definitely handicapped with his future work."
In a supplemental statement Dr. Eggers advised: “The left ulnar nerve was exposed in the accident, as was much of the forearm, by extensive lacerations. This nerve has never recovered so that he has an ulnar nerve paralysis affecting his hand, which will probably be permanent. Also the skin area on the back of his arm has lost all feeling, due to the destruction of superficial branches of the radial nerve."
Rosalind Gause, the younger of the two daughters, sustained a severe fracture of the skull for which she was hospitalized for a period of 33 days. Her physician, Dr. John M. Thiel, of Galveston, described her injuries as follows:
"She was brought to the John Sealy Hospital and was in a very critical condition when I examined her. She was unconscious and in marked shock, and had a large wound about 5 inches long on her left forehead. The skull in this region was crushed and was depressed into the brain and there were bits of brain tissue protruding from the wound. She had frequent convulsions and muscular twitchings. Physical and neurological examination showed marked evidence of serious brain damage.
“Because of the serious injury to the brain in this region, it was necessary to remove the damaged portion of this part of the brain, as well as the blood clots and debris present in the brain. In addition, she had definite weakness of the right arm and leg amounting almost to a paralysis. She gradually gained consciousness within a week after the injury but she was unable to talk. Within the next several weeks she showed gradual improvement, and upon dismissal from
the hospital on March 22, 1943, she was able to speak a few words and seemed to understand some things said to her, but she had definite evidence of permanent disability.
"She had definite personality changes, and impairment of intellect, and these continued during the period of post-operative observation, Within the next 2 months there was some slight improvement noticed in the weakness of her right arm and leg. However, she was definitely handicapped in using these extremities. Her difficulty in speaking persisted, although she used a few words. Her vocabulary, however, was much less than it was prior to her accident.'
Capt. Bernard H. Shulman, Medical Corps, chief, psychiatric section, station hospital, Camp, Wallace, Tex., examined Rosalind Gause. On December 31, 1943, he submitted the following report:
"It is my opinion, therefore, that this child is left with permanent disability involving the right arm and leg. Also her personality make-up has been altered to such, an extent that she will be disabled for the rest of her life. These statements are made because of the definite brain damage as noticed by X-rays and loss of brain tissue on admission at the time of the accident."
Helen Gause, the other daughter, age 6, sustained a severe laceration of the scalp and fracture of the skull. She was treated by Dr. John M. Thiel, who described her condition as follows:
“This patient had a laceration 4 inches long in the frontal region of her head. She was conscious and in moderate shock. Further examination revealed a fracture line in the skull at the depth of the scalp wound. However, her neurological and physical examination showed that the brain injury was not as severe as that encountered by her sister. X-rays of the skull showed a long ragged fracture line in the right front bone extending down toward the base. This injury was also extremely serious and the patient's condition was critical. She was treated for shock and was taken to the operating room after her sister Rosalind had first been taken care of. The compound, comminuted fracture in the frontal region Fas identified and was treated by thorough cleansing and removal of all debris present at the site of fracture. "When last examined on December 16, 1943, she showed slight flattening of the right side of the forehead and a scar at the site of the original injury, these being permanent effects of the accident. Apparently her recovery has been satisfactory. However, it is possible that she may yet show other effects of her injury, at some subsequent time, even though none is in evidence now."
The evidence reveals that as a result of the personal injuries sustained by Mr. Gause and his two daughters, he incurred medical and hospital expenses in the aggregate amount of $2,006.65. Property damage sustained to his automobile which had an estimated value of $130 prior to the accident and sold for $16 afterward for salvage, left a loss of $114.
At the time of the accident Mr. Gause was 38 years of age and was employed as a boilermaker's helper. He was married and had six children ranging in age from 4 to 17 years, all of whom were dependent upon him for their support.
The War Department in its report of April 28, 1944, states:
"The evidence clearly establishes that the accident was not caused by any fault or negligence on the part of Mr. Gause or any of the passengers in Liis automobile, but was caused solely by an instrumentality of the Government for which it may properly assume liability. It is, therefore, the view of the War Department that Mr. Gause should be compensated for the property damage and personal injuries sustained by him and for the medical and hospital expenses incurred for himself and for his two injured children."
After careful consideration of all the facts and evidence presented in this case your committee is of the opinion that the above awards are reasonable compensation for the injuries sustained. Therefore, your committee recommends that the bill be favorably considered, as amended. Appended hereto is the report of the War Department, together with other pertinent information.
Washington, April 28, 1944. 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. 3996, Seventy-eighth Congress, in its present form. This bill would authorize and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay "the sum of $15,000 to F. L. Gause for personal injuries and permanent disability; the sum of $25,000 to Rosalind Gause for personal injuries and permanent disability; and the sum of $1,500 to Helen Gause for personal injuries and permanent disability, as a result of a United States Army airplane crashing into the automobile in which they were passengers on West Beach of Galveston Island, Galveston County, Tex., on February 21, 1943." The bill further authorizes and directs the Secretary of the Treasury to pay to “F. L. Gause medical and hospital expenses in the total sum of $2,006.65, incurred by himself, Rosalind Gause. and Helen Gause; also the sum of $114 for damage to the automobile owned by F. L. Gause. The Department, however, would not oppose the enactment of the bill if it should be so amended as to provide for the payment of $7,120.65 to F. L. Gause; the payment of $6,000 to the legal guardian of Rosalind Gause; and the payment of $1,500 to the legal guardian of Helen Gause.
On February 21, 1943, an Army airplane piloted by a commissioned officer, with another commissioned officer and three enlisted men as crew members, took off on an authorized local training flight from the Army air base at Galveston, Tex. At about 11:45 a. m. the plane was flying in a westerly direction over the West Beach Road at a very low altitude about 5 miles from the city limits of Galveston. The twin motors appeared to be functioning normally and there was no evidence of mechanical distress. At the same time a 1935 Ford coach, owned and operated by Francis L. Gause, Oleander Homes, Galveston, in which his six children were riding as passengers, was proceeding east on the West Beach Road. Mr. Gause observed the plane approaching him at an altitude which he estimated to be approximately 50 feet. When the plane reached a point directly ahead of the civilian vehicle, it dived and the right wing lowered, striking the top of the car. The force of the impact tore the wing of the plane loose, the plane crashed into the sea and the entire crew was lost. The top of the civilian vehicle was ripped off and it was whirled around and thrown into the surf in an upright position a few yards off shore. As a result of the accident the civilian vehicle was damaged beyond repair and Mr. Gause and two of his children, Rosalind Gause, age 4 years, and Helen Gause, age 6 years, sustained serious personal injuries. After the accident Mr. Gause and his two injured daughters were taken to the John Sealy Hospital, Galveston, Tex., for treatment. Mr. Gause sustained a compound comminuted fracture of the left elbow and extensive lacerations of the forearm, with respect to which Dr. G. W. N. Eggers, of Galveston, made the following statement on June 7, 1943:
“The wound was debrided and after healing the head of the radius was resected to secure some motion in the elbow. This was not successful due to the extensive damage of the elbow. He (Mr. Gause) has been advised to have a resection of the elbow to secure a flail as the only means of improving the motion at the elbow. This he has consented to have done. The ulnar nerve was intact but severely traumatized and the nerve has never regained any function. He has therefore an ulnar paralysis with loss of function of fourth and fifth fingers and interosseous loss as well. Also the skin area on the radial side is anesthetic distal to the extensive laceration which destroyed superficial cutaneous nerves.
“As a result of the accident Mr. Gause has a severely damaged left arm and I understand he is left handed. He will be definitely handicapped with his future work.” . In a supplemental statement dated August 21, 1943, Dr. Eggers stated:
“The left elbow was broken and the bone came through the skin. The fragmentation of the elbow bones was such that some of the pieces were entirely gone.
A second operation was done in which the head of the radius bone was resected to try to secure a stable movable elbow. The elbow was limited in motion and later the entire bony structures of the joint were removed to secure a movable but loose elbow (flail elbow).
"The left ulnar nerve was exposed in the accident as was much of the forearm by extensive lacerations. This nerve has never recovered so that he has an ulnar nervo paralysis affecting his hand which will probably be permanent.