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1st Session

No. 132

ANNA MATTIL AND OTHERS

FEBRUARY 13, 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. 1889)

The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 1889) for the relief of Anna Mattil and others, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the bill, as amended, do pass.

The amendments are as follows:

Page 1, line 8, after the name and initial "John H.” strike out the name "Mattie”; insert in lieu thereof the name “Mattil”.

Page 2, line 7, after the word “to” strike out “the legal guardian of”. Page 2, line 8, after the name "Mattil,” strike out "a minor,''.

A similar bill was favorably reported by this committee and passed the House in the Seventy-eighth Congress, but no action taken by the Senate.

The facts will be found fully set forth in House Report No. 910, Seventy-eighth Congress, which is appended hereto and made a part

of this report.

(H. Rept. No. 910, 78th Cong., Ist sess.)

STATEMENT OF FACTS

With the foregoing amendments, this proposed legislation authorizes payments of $1,250 to Anna Mattil, Rochester, N. Y.; $300 to Mildred Reed, Coldwater, N. Y.; $300 to John A. Mattil, Rochester, N. Y.; $250 to John H. Mattil, Sr., Rochester, N. Y.; $300 to Edward Kolb, Rochester, N. Y.; $300 to Anna Fritz Starr, Rochester, N. Y.; $300 to Deloris Clow, Rochester, N. Y.; $100 to Julia Valentine, Rochester, N. Y.; $750 to the legal guardian of Betty Jane Mosher, a minor, Rochester, N. Y.; $500 to the legal guardian of Mary Ann Thesing, a minor, Rochester, N. Y.; $1,500 to the legal guardian of Marjorie St. John, a minor, Rochester, N. Y.; $1,000 to the legal guardian of George Mattil, a minor, Rochester, N: Y.; $750 to the legal guardian of Susie Spier, a minor, Rochester, N. Y.; $1,500 to the legal guardian of Richard Ormsby, a minor, Rochester, N. Y.; and $250 to Richard Smith, Rochester, N. Y., in full settlement of all their claims against the Government of the United States for personal injuries sustained by them as the result of an explosion and fire caused by agents of the Bureau of Prohibition during a raid in the city of Rochester, N. Y., July 7, 1933.

By Private Law No. 566, Seventy-fourth Congress, the sum of $2,500 was appropriated to the parents of Albert Thesing, a minor child who sustained fatal injuries as a result of the explosion referred to in the bill as the basis for the instant claims. In connection with that previous bill, the Attorney General submitted a report stating that the question of whether relief should be granted was a matter of legislative policy upon which he preferred to make no recommendation. With respect to these claims, no recommendation has been made by the

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Attorney General, but it must be conceded that responsibility of the Government
to reimburse claimants has been established. In House Report No. 1467, Seventy-
fourth Congress, justifying favorable action on the Thesing claim, your committee
stated:

"The record discloses that prohibition investigators located a still in operation
at 297 Hague Street, Rochester, on the morning of July 7, 1933; that they arrested
a man operating same; that a Government contractor was called in to dismantle
the still; that employees of the contractor were familiar with such work; that a
crowd of persons had congregated to watch the raid; that none of them were
allowed on the premises; that about 20 minutes after the dismantling process
began a terrific explosion occurred, the source of which is unknown; that Govern-
ment officer was blown through the window and persons watching the process
from adjoining property were burned and knocked to the ground; that the infant
son of the claimant was playing on the property at 303 Hague Street, with other
small children; that he received second-degree burns from the flames of the explo-
sion, and that he died as a result of same on July 17, 1933.

"It is also of record that several investigations were had, but the exact cause of the explosion was never determined. However, inasmuch as the child was not trespassing, was on private property, and was injured as an innocent victim of an activity of the Federal Government, your committee recommend payment of the claim.'

For these reasons, we confirm our previous findings regarding the Government's liability for injuries sustained as a result of this explosion, and passage of this bill, including, as amended, 15 claims for personal injuries, is therefore recommended. In order of their designation in the bill, the claimants are hereafter listed with such information as to their injuries and expenses as appears of record, together with the recommendation of your committee as to each settlement.

ANNA MATTIL

This claimant is now 30 years of age. She was burned on both sides of her face and chin, the front of her neck and upper chest, the entire left arm and hand, the lower legs, and she suffered from nervous shock. Her doctor's report shows nervousness, multiple small scars covering forehead, left cheek, nose, and chin, and one 6-inch scar from right ear to clavicular joint. There are scars on the outer surface of left arm and inner of right arm, outer surface of both hands, left elbow, and both legs, in addition to an 8-inch scar on front of neck and upper left chest. Miss Mattil was hospitalized for 244 weeks at a cost of $55.50, and alleges a loss of 4 months' work, at $400. The scars are permanent, in consideration of which and the monetary losses, we suggest payment of $1,250 in settlement of this claim.

MILDRED REED

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This claimant is now 51 years of age.

She received burns about the face, arms, eyes, and ears. Her doctor's report shows a 13-inch scar on surface of the left arm, and a similar scar on the right arm, but no visible face scars. She suffers from nervousness and has some loss of grasp in the fingers, due to burns on the hands. She was hospitalized for 3 weeks at a cost of $55.50, and we suggest payment of $300 in settlement of her claim.

JOHN A. MATTIL

This claimant is now 23 years of age. He received burns on the hands, arms, and face. The doctor's report shows a 2-inch scar on surface of right wrist, 3-inch scar on right forearm, and 34-inch scar on left forearm, in addition patches of multiple scars in center of forehead, over right temporal area, and left cheek. The scars are permanent, it appears. He was hospitalized for 1 week at a cost of $25.25, and we suggest payment of $300 in settlement of this claim.

JOHN H, MATTIL, SR.
This claimant is now 54 years of age. He received burns about the face, neck,
arms, and hands. The doctor's report shows slight scars on back of both hands,
both sides of neck and face, and marked thickened scars on entire chin, slightly
marked on upper lip. He was treated at the hospital's out-patient clinic for
3 weeks, but a medical expense of $3 only appears in the file. Payment of $250
is suggested in settlement of this claim.

EDWARD KOLB

This claimant is now 34 years of age. He received burns on his face, neck, arms, and hands. The doctor's report shows that he has a 10-inch scar on the left arm, and 8-inch scar on the right arm, both of which are permanent, and a slight nose scar. He was hospitalized for 3 weeks at a cost of $66.50, and alleges a wage loss of $240, or 8 weeks at $30 per week. In consideration of such losses and the injuries sustained, we suggest payment of $300 in settlement of this claim.

ANNE FRITZ STARR

This claimant is now 30 years of age. She received burns about the face, right arm, and left arm, as well as nervous shock. Her doctor's report shows a 5-inch scar on the right elbow, a similar scar of 3 inches on the left elbow, both of which are permanent, in addition to a mild scar on the nose of l-inch length. She still suffers from the shock to her nervous system. She was hospitalized for 4 days at a cost of $17, and was single and working at the time of the explosion, in connection with which a wage loss of about $102 is alleged, covering 6 weeks. Payment of $300 in settlement of this claim is suggested.

DELORIS CLOW

The age of this claimant is now 27 years. She received burns about the face and arms. Her doctor's report shows two 1/2-inch scars on the left cheek, with numerous smaller scars about the entire face, and slight scars on outer surfaces of both arms and hands, the fingernails being deeply pitted in the nail beds from scar formation. She was hospitalized for 2 weeks at a cost of $44.50. Payment of $300 is suggested in settlement of this claim.

JULIA VALENTINE

This claimant's age does not appear in the record. She received burns about the arm and hand (right), and nervous shock. Her doctor's report shows scars on the right hand and arm, and nervousness. She was treated for 4 days at the hospital's out-patient clinic at a cost of $3. Payment of $100 is suggested in settlement of this claim.

BETTY JANE MOSHER

This child is now 10 years of age. She received burns resulting in 7-incb scars on her chest, scars on arms from shoulders to wrists, two small scars on right forehead, and scars to the ears, left forearm and elbow, and a 7-inch scar on the back. There is a thinness of hair over the burned area of the right forehead. She was hospitalized for 342 weeks at a cost of $72. In consideration of these permanent scars and the child's age, as well as the medical expense, payment of $750 is suggested in settlement of this claim.

MARY ANN THESING

This child is now 8 years of age.

She received burns resulting in nervousness, scars to the right hand, right forearm, left hand, and upper arm, and she received burns about the face, neck, legs, and forehead, which apparently did not result in any scars. She was hospitalized for 3 weeks at a cost of $66.50 and payment of $500 is suggested in settlement of this claim.

MARJORIE ST. JOHN

This child is now 12 years of age. She received burns resulting in nervousness, and anemia, and a permanent scar extending over entire forehead and down over temple and left side of face, about 644 inches in length, a 7-inch scar on left forearm, a 6-inch scar on right forearm, a deep 2-inch scar on right elbow, 3-inch scars on both hands, 15-inch scars on left leg, and 13-inch scars on right leg. All these scars are considered permanent by her doctor. The child was hospitalized for 342 weeks at a cost of $72. In consideration of her age and permanent scars, as well as the expense, we suggest a payment of $1,500 in settlement of this claim.

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GEORGE MATTIL

This boy is 14 years of age at this time. He received burns resulting in nervousness, multiple scars covering lips, nose, and chin; 2 scars of 1 inch and onehalf inch on left cheek; 1-inch scar on right cheek; 142-inch scar on left forearm; 4-inch scar on right elbow and another of 1 inch; 3- and 2-inch scars on right forearm; and right hand is completely covered by scar formation. There is an area 1 inch in diameter on right temporal region devoid of hair, because of the burns. He was hospitalized for 3 weeks at $66.50 cost and, in consideration of that expense, the child's age and permanent scars, we suggest a payment of $1,000 in settlement of this claim.

BUSIE SPIER

This child is now 9 years of age. She received burns resulting in nervousness and anemia, and scars of 6 inches on right arm, 1 inch on upper right arm, three-fourths inch on lower right leg, and scars to both hands and both cheeks. Her entire forehead was burned, but evidently without scarring. She was hospitalized for 3 weeks at a cost of $66.50 and, in consideration of this expense, her age, and injuries, we suggest a payment of $750 in settlement of this claim.

RICHARD ORMSBY

The age of this claimant does not appear in the file, though he is a minor. He sustained burns about the face and neck and injury to his right ear as a result of the explosion. Apparently, a fair recovery was made insofar as the burns are concerned, with some scarring, but the ear developed a mastoid. An operation was performed without success, and the hearing in this ear is greatly impaired permanently. He was hospitalized for over a month at a cost of $148.50. In view of the permanent impairment, we suggest a payment of $1,500 in settlement of this claim.

With respect to this and the following claim it will be observed that they have been added to the bill by amendment, the original having been introduced prior to receipt of the claims.

RICHARD SMITH

The age of this claimant does not appear in the file, though he evidently is nearing his majority. He received first- and second-degree burns to the hands, face, ears, and neck, resulting in blisters and boils, with considerable pain. He was bedridden for 10 days and not able to carry on his work of serving newspapers for 3 months, for which a loss of $90 wages is alleged. The medical expense was $40. His doctor reports that the boy has now completely recovered and, in view of this fact and the expenses and injuries, payment of $250 is suggested in settlement of the claim.

As introduced, embodying 13 claims, the bill proposed payments totaling $109,500. As shown by the preceding itemizations, these amounts were quite excessive. In considering the 15 claims carried in the bill, as amended, your committee has looked to the expenses and losses, the injuries and permanency of same, and the claimant's age. As amended, the bill appropriates $9,350 for settlement of all the claims and its passage in that amount is recommended.

Appended hereto is the report of the Attorney General, and statements covering the individual claims, in order of their designation in the bill, and discussion is this report.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,

Washington, D. C., December 7, 1937.
Hon. AMBROSE J. KENNEDY,
Chairman, Committee on Claims, House of Representatives,

Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I have your letter of August 26 requesting my views concerning the merits of the bill (H. R. 7991) to provide for the payment of compensation to Anna Mattil and 12 other persons for personal injuries caused by an explosion.

On the morning of July 7, 1933, three prohibition agents raided a house at 297 Hague Street, Rochester, N. Y., in which a still was being illegally operated, and arrested one James Ferrari, the person apparently in charge. After opening all of the windows of the house to let out the fumes and extinguishing the fire under the boiler, two of the officers, with Ferrari in custody, drove away, leaving the third agent on the premises.

The George M. Clancy Carting Co. of Rochester, which had a standing contract with the Bureau of Prohibition for dismantling stills, was notified and several of its employees arrived. A number of bystanders gathered in front of the house. The agent in charge states that he directed them to leave but that they merely moved a short distance away, congregated on the adjoining property and refused to leave in spite of repeated requests to that effect. Shortly thereafter an explosion occurred, enveloping a number of the bystanders in flames, one of whom, Albert Thesing, Jr., a child of 4 years of age, was fatally burned.

Compensation to the parents of Albert Thesing, Jr., in the sum of $2,500, was authorized by a private act of Congress (act of May 15, 1936; 49 Stat. 2298).

The cause of the explosion has not been established. It apparently has been suggested that the fire under the still boiler may not have been completely extinguished before the work of dismantling was commenced. This assertion, however, is not substantiated. Moreover, it does not appear that the prohibition agent present or the workmen dismantling the still were guilty of any negligence.

Of the 14 persons burned as a result of the explosion, 8 were adults and 6 were children, 1 of the latter, the Thesing boy, being fatally injured as stated above. Immediately following the explosion, the injured persons were taken to St. Mary's Hospital, Rochester, and treated by Dr. W. S. Hartigan.

I am informed that copies of Dr. Hartigan's report were submitted to the
Treasury Department, which may also have other pertinent information relative
to these claims.
Sincerely yours,

HOMER CUMMINGS,

Attorney General.

MEMORANDUM FOR THE ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Consideration has been given to the provisions of H. R. 9174, for the relief of the parents of Albert Thesing, which was referred, under date of April 18, to this Department for a report thereon from the Committee on Claims, House of Representatives.

This bill proposes to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to pay to the parents of Albert Thesing, of Rochester, N. Y., the sum of $5,000 in settlement of all claims against the Government for the death of the said Albert Thesing, resulting from an explosion during the dismantling of a still during a raid in the city of Rochester.

The files of this Department show that on the morning of July 7, 1933, prohibition investigators B. C. Newton, J. H. Christner, and J. J. Malley, acting on instructions from their superior officer, found a still in operation at 297 Hague Street, and arrested the atiendant, Michael Serefino, of 813 Jay Street, Rochester, N. Y.' Two of the investigators took the prisoner before the United States Commissioner, while the remaining investigator notified the George M. Clancy Carting Co., holders of Government contract for this type of work, to dismantle the still.

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