United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
CLINTON D. PEDERSON, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant; and LEANNE MCGILL Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT REGARDING LEEANN MCGILL’S COMPLAINT
J. BRYAN United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on the Defendant United
States’ Motion to Exclude (Dkt. 56) and Motion for
Summary Judgment regarding Plaintiff Leeann McGill’s
Complaint (Dkt. 49). The Court has reviewed the pleadings
filed regarding the motions and is fully advised.
case arises from a motor vehicle collision which occurred
when Jose Caywood, an employee of the United States,
Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs,
hit Plaintiff Clinton Pederson’s vehicle, that, in
turn, hit Plaintiff Leanne McGill’s vehicle on State
Route 12. Dkt. 1. The United States now moves for summary
judgment on Ms. McGill’s claim for negligence, brought
pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §
2671 et seq. (“FTCA”), arguing that Ms.
McGill cannot meet her burden of showing that the motor
vehicle accident was the proximate cause of her claimed
injury (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (“CRPS”)).
Dkt. 49. For the reasons provided below, the motion to
exclude (Dkt. 56) and the motion for summary judgment (Dkt.
49) should be denied.
FACTS RELEVANT TO THE MOTION
motor vehicle accident occurred on January 3, 2017. Dkt. 1.
Ms. McGill states that, right after the accident, she got out
of her car and checked on Mr. Pederson. Dkt. 50-1, at 8. She
called 911. Id. The paramedics arrived, but she was
not medically evaluated and did not go to the hospital.
Id. A little after the accident, Ms. McGill had pain
in her right shoulder and arm and a burning in her wrist.
Dkt. 50-1, at 9. She states that she also had “normal
aches and pains in [her] back and in [her] legs] like [she]
had gotten in a car accident, but . . . it seem normal”
to her. Dkt. 50-1, at 9.
McGill returned to work for over a week; she worked in an
assisted living facility. Dkt. 50-1 at 4. She states that she
was able “push through normal ‘I just got in a
car accident’ aches and pains” initially. Dkt.
50-1, at 4. On January 15, 2017, however, she was helping a
resident of the care facility stand, when “all of a
sudden, [her] arm went completely numb, fell to [her] side,
and it was like it wasn’t there.” Dkt. 50-1, at
4. She states that her arm “turned into nothing but
excruciating pain, shooting completely up to [her]
shoulder.” Ms. McGill states that she “talked to
one of the nurses that were [sic] on duty at the time, and
[her] forearm was actually swollen two to three times its
size, and that’s when [the nurse] told [Ms. McGill]
that she needed to go to the [emergency room].” Dkt.
50-1, at 5. The nurse on duty at the care facility sent Ms.
McGill home. Id.
January 17, 2017, Ms. McGill went to the emergency room. Dkt.
50-1, at 8. The treatment notes from the emergency room
provide, in part:
Chief Complaint: Motor Vehicle Crash . . . Patient does have
pain to forearm with intermittent tingling to hand. States
when she went to go bowling the other day had pain shooting
up her entire arm. Also with increase pain when she is trying
to move her patients at work.
Dkt. 50-2, at 3. Her doctor indicated that she should be
excused from work for two days. Id.
January 19, 2017, Ms. McGill was seen at the Washington
Orthopedic Center. Dkt. 50-3, at 2. The assessment was,
“[r]ight forearm pain and swelling and hand numbness
and tingling two weeks after a motor vehicle accident. The
exact etiology is unclear.” Id. Nerve
conduction testing was ordered. Id. She was released
to return to work on January 20, 2017. Dkt. 50-3, at 7.
nerve conduction test results were essentially normal. Dkt.
50-7, at 6. Ms. McGill received treatment from a chiropractor
late January 2017 through July 2017. Dkt. 50-4. She was
assessed by Douglas Taylor, M.D. on March 31, 2017, and at
his recommendation, received a right stellate ganglion block
on April 24, 2017, for “likely [CRPS].” Dkt.
50-5, at 3-8. At a follow-up exam, Ms. McGill reported that
she did not get any benefit from the block. Id. Dr.
Taylor ruled out CRPS as the cause of her pain because the
procedure did not give her relief. Dkt. 50-5, at 4.
28, 2018, Ms. McGill was examined by Thomas L. Gritzka. Dkt.
50-4, at 2. Dr. Gritzka’s report indicates that after
the accident, “she attempted to continue working”
as a “caregiver at a residence and assisted living
facility.” Dkt. 50-4, at 3. He discussed her medical
history and diagnosed her with “[CRPS] type 1, right
shoulder girdle, ” which he opined is “more
probable than not due to the motor vehicle accident of
January 3, 2017.” Dkt. 50-4, at 10. He noted that she
“sustained a mechanism of injury which as she described
it started with wrist pain and was the result of jamming or
extending her right arm locked against a steering wheel in
full extension.” Dkt. 50-4, at 10.
deposition, Dr. Gritzka testified that he was not aware,
based on her medical records or Ms. McGill’s report to
him, of any other incidents or events that occurred related
to her right arm before receiving medical treatment on
January 17, 2017. Dkt. 50-7, at 5-6. As to Ms. McGill’s
condition, Dr. Gritzka testified that:
Well, she suffers from a condition that is diagnosed really
more or less by jargon. I mean, exactly what complex regional
pain syndrome is, is a medical dispute, but symptoms similar
to what she has could be called other things. It could be
called a peripheral nerve and centralization phenomenon. It
also could be called a neuropathic pain syndrome. And these
all more or less describe the same thing, which is basically
that somebody has a shoulder -- has a pain complaint that
appears to be related to some condition, but the exact
pathoetiology or condition is unclear. So, you know,
depending on what medical specialty group you live with, you
might call it something else. The reason I picked the complex
regional pain syndrome as the most likely condition is
because – was because, first of all, the mechanism of
injury. Complex regional pain syndromes are bizarre in that
they usually start with something that initially seems kind
of trivial, and then ...