United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
B. Leighton United States District Judge
MATTER came on regularly for trial on June 8, 2017, before
the Honorable Ronald B. Leighton, United States District
Judge, sitting without a jury. The Court, having considered
the evidence before it, including the testimony of witnesses
and the documents and exhibits that were admitted by the
Court, having heard argument and considered the briefs and
memoranda of counsel, having further considered its prior
orders herein, and having reviewed the facts and records of
this action, makes the following findings of fact and
conclusions of law.
the morning of June 19, 2012, Veterans Administration
(“VA”) employee Dianna Bradley, the chief
supervisor in Building 132 at the American Lake VA Medical
Center (“American Lake”), observed that the
automatic doors at the entrance to the building were stuck in
the open position and would not close.
Later that morning, VA engineer Jeff Wells, VA carpenter
Hilarion Careaga, and VA locksmith Bruce Pentico arrived at
Building 132 to check the automatic doors.
determine what was wrong with the doors, Mr. Wells turned off
the power to the doors, then turned the power back on to
allow the controls to the doors to cycle back on. They
observed the doors continuously operating properly.
Wells then examined the sensor for dirt and grime that may
have affected the door's operation. While Mr. Wells was
on a ladder in the middle of the six-foot wide doorway, Mr.
Careaga and Mr. Pentico physically blocked the doorway to
prevent people from walking through the very limited spaces
on either side of the ladder and potentially making contact
with Mr. Wells on the ladder. The three VA workers were
wearing matching green uniform tops, which identified them as
automatic doors did not close while Mr. Wells was on the
ladder inspecting the overhead sensor.
Approximately two or three times, Mr. Wells descended the
ladder and removed it from the doorway so that people, who
had stopped inside and outside the doorway at the entrance to
Building 132, could pass through safely.
While Mr. Wells was on the ladder and Mr. Pentico and Mr.
Careaga were blocking the doorway, Plaintiff Stephen Cadena
approached the entrance to Building 132, walking directly
toward it from Building 81, which is across the street.
Cadena had a walking staff in his right hand for balance.
Pentico saw Mr. Cadena approach the doorway, stop for 10-15
seconds alongside other people who were waiting to use that
entrance, and then proceeded to pass by the workers before
Mr. Wells could completely descend from his ladder and clear
Wells, from his position on the ladder, saw Mr. Cadena move
past Mr. Careaga, walk through the tight space to the left of
the ladder, and hit his left hand against the left door
panel, which was in the open position.
automatic door panels did not close or otherwise move while