to treat and cure patients rather than to confine them to custodial care as used to be the case, the hospitals no longer use handcuffs - and this is certainly true in this hospital - they no longer use straitjackets or any other means of physical restraint except in an emergency and then only on the personal authority, in the specific case, of the superintendent of the hospital.
The attendant was not furnished any handcuffs nor was he armed with a nightstick or anything else. He was not in the position, therefore, to use any physical force except by his hands. The fact that he may have been warned that the patient was desirous of escaping is not significant because such threats and warnings are often received by a member of the hospital staff and turn out to be usual. As soon as the patient darted and started to run, the attendant and other employees chased him and finally apprehended him. The mere fact that the plaintiff was injured between the time he started to run and the moment he was apprehended a short time later does not give rise to the inference that there was any negligence. The Court is unable to discern any lack of due care on the part of the attendant in preventing the escape, considering the conditions under which mental hospitals operate.
As Judge Hoffman said in White v. United States, supra at page 134, "Risks must be taken with mental patients, otherwise the case is left as hopeless." In other words, escape of patients from mental hospitals is perhaps more prevalent today than was true of the old fashioned lunatic asylum but that is a concomitant circumstance of enlightened progress.
The Court finds no negligence on the part of the Government and, therefore, will render judgment dismissing the complaint on the merits.
A transcript of this oral opinion will constitute the findings of fact and conclusions of law.
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