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Cadena v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

June 15, 2017

STEPHEN CADENA, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

          Ronald B. Leighton United States District Judge

         THIS 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.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. On 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.

         2. 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.

         3. To 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.

         4. Mr. 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 VA employees.

         5. The automatic doors did not close while Mr. Wells was on the ladder inspecting the overhead sensor.

         6. 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.

         7. 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.

         8. Mr. Cadena had a walking staff in his right hand for balance.

         9. Mr. 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 the doorway.

         10. Mr. 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.

         11. The automatic door panels did not close or otherwise move while Mr. ...


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