The opinion of the court was delivered by: JONES
This cause came on for trial before the Court and without a jury on November 19, 1963, and the Court having duly considered the evidence presented by the plaintiff, the pleadings filed in this cause, and the stipulated facts set forth in the pre-trial statement, now makes the following findings as provided by Rules 41(b) and 52(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
1. This is an action against the defendant United States of America for damages for wrongful death brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b) of the Federal Tort Claims Act.
2. St. Elizabeths Hospital, located in the District of Columbia, is an institution for the treatment of the mentally ill owned and operated by the defendant United States of America.
3. Plaintiff Daniel P. Schwartz is the administrator of the estate of decedent Erika M. Schwartz. Plaintiff Daniel P. Schwartz is also the surviving husband of this decedent.
4. Erika M. Schwartz was admitted to St. Elizabeths Hospital on July 26, 1958 as a District of Columbia voluntary patient pursuant to 32 D.C.Code 412.
5. Prior to her admission to St. Elizabeths Hospital, Mrs. Schwartz had had a history of mental illness. The hospital records at St. Elizabeths Hospital show and this Court finds as facts that Mrs. Schwartz began psychotherapy in 1952 and 1953 at a time when she was still in her teens. She married in 1955, and in 1956, after becoming pregnant, she began having periods of depression lasting several days. Shortly after the birth of her baby in 1956, she drank cleaning fluid and was sent to George Washington University Hospital where she stayed some three weeks. After returning home in late 1956, she began to have recurrent feelings of depression and was re-hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital for a brief period of time, this hospitalization terminating in January of 1957. Subsequent to this hospitalization, Mrs. Schwartz resumed psychotherapy privately, but her disability, anxiety, depressed feelings, and inability to care for her home and child increased to the extent that she was admitted at St. Elizabeths Hospital on a voluntary basis at the suggestion of her doctor. At a diagnostic conference at St. Elizabeths in September of 1958, the patient's illness was diagnosed as psychoneurotic reaction, depressive reaction. During the period of her hospitalization at St. Elizabeths Hospital, Mrs. Schwartz, according to the testimony of plaintiff's own witness, Dr. Lanham, was afforded the following treatment:
a. Intensive individual psychotherapy;
b. An opportunity to participate in group therapy upon her ward;
c. Periodic personal interviews between the patient and Dr. Lanham, a qualified psychiatrist who was then staff psychiatrist at St. Elizabeths in charge of this patient's ward;
d. Use of drugs and other medical aids as required.
6. In July of 1959, Mrs. Schwartz, as a patient at St. Elizabeths Hospital received ground privileges from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. These privileges continued until September 11, 1959, on which date she did not return to her ward. On September 21, 1959, the patient, Erika M. Schwartz, was found hanging by the neck from a tree situated in a wooded area on the hospital grounds. She was pronounced dead at that time.
7. Plaintiff contends that defendant's hospital was negligent in its care and supervision of the deceased patient, and, further, that the hospital was negligent in that it failed to locate Mrs. Schwartz once she had disappeared. A review of plaintiff's evidence reveals that plaintiff is unable to demonstrate either negligence on the part of the medical staff of St. Elizabeths Hospital in their treatment of the deceased patient or negligence in the administrative supervision of the patient.
8. During the period of her hospitalization at St. Elizabeths Hospital, this patient was assigned to an intensive treatment service, the Dorothea Lynde Dix Pavillion. During the period of the patient's residence at the hospital, there were approximately 7,000 patients receiving psychiatric care at St. Elizabeths. 60 or 70 of such patients ...