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ROBERTS v. UNITED STATES

February 25, 1981

Nann I. ROBERTS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

This Federal Tort Claims Act case was tried before the Court on October 20, 1980. Following the trial the Court with counsel visited the scene of the accident. Pursuant to Rule 52(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff is the wife of a retired civilian employee of the Department of the Army. As an incident of his employment, plaintiff's husband was eligible for membership in the Fort McNair Officers' Club. His membership in the Fort McNair Club entitled him to make use of the Bolling Air Force Base Officers' Club.

 2. Plaintiff's husband accompanied by plaintiff and their son went to the Officers' Club at Bolling Air Force Base in the District of Columbia on October 10, 1977, to participate in a "Cook-Your-Own-Steak" dinner at a club room known as the "Pub" on the occasion of the son's birthday.

 3. October 10, 1977, was Columbus Day, a holiday. The only dining room in operation on that day was the Pub, which was open from 11:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. The Pub is on the Upper Floor of the two-story building.

 4. Sometime after 5:00 p.m. on the date in question, plaintiff's husband drove up to the South Entrance to the Lower Floor of the Club, and plaintiff and her son alighted from the car and entered the building. Plaintiff's husband proceeded to park the car.

 5. Upon entering the South Entrance, plaintiff and her son found themselves in a lobby area.

 6. Plaintiff had been to the Club about three times previously, but those visits were some years earlier, and she was not familiar with the building. She had, however, been given instructions by a friend to turn right upon entering the South Entrance, and follow a hallway toward the "Cook-Your-Own-Steak" location.

 7. Instead, she turned left toward the Washington Room, which was closed and unlighted.

 9. Having turned left from the lobby, plaintiff walked into a reception area. Entering the reception area, she turned right and walked toward the north end of the reception area, which leads to the entrances of the Washington Room and the Maple Room.

 10. Behind the plaintiff as she walked through the reception area toward the entrances to the Washington Room and the Maple Room was a window, facing South.

 11. There was no artificial lighting in the reception area, and no artificial lighting in the two dining rooms toward which plaintiff was walking.

 12. The Officers' Club makes an effort to conserve electricity and has a practice not to turn on unnecessary lights in unused areas of the Club, and so the reception area and the two unused dining rooms which it serves were darkened.

 13. The management of the Club feels that the darkness of such unused areas of the Club is sufficient notice to visitors that they were not invited to enter those areas, although it was not the policy of the Club to exclude members from any part of the premises. In the words of the Club ...


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