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Lowe v. United States
United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
662 F. Supp. 1089 (1987)
Shirley Kelly and Eliza Walker were two of the people killed by an explosion at a Celesco factory. Survivors (plaintiffs) of both estates sued the government (defendant), seeking damages for their mental anguish. Shirley Kelly survived for 32 hours with third-degree burns over 95 percent of her body. Her face was unrecognizable. Shirley and Willie Kelly shared a loving husband-wife relationship. Willie never remarried. Willie could not stand to be in Shirley’s hospital room for more than 20 minutes. Willie suffered severe emptiness on holidays, he barely slept, and he lost 30 pounds. None of Shirley’s minor daughters remembered the explosion. Shirley’s mother, Ruby Jones, lived near Shirley and frequently visited and babysat for Shirley. Ruby also could not stay in Shirley’s hospital room, she had to be hospitalized, and she lost 18 pounds. Ruby and Dorothy Jones, who was Shirley’s sister, assumed the parenting roles of Shirley’s four children for 11 years. Dorothy also had worked at Celesco but quit because of the memory of Shirley’s painful death. Shirley’s brother, Terry Jones, frequently visited Shirley, and they talked at least once per day. Shirley’s injuries unsettled Terry, and he would not return to the hospital. Terry also quit his job at Celesco. Victim Eliza Walker died instantly and had third-degree burns over 95 percent of her body. Eliza’s daughter, Gertie Mitchell, could only identify Eliza’s remains because of her unique gold tooth. Eliza and Gertie had an extremely close mother-daughter relationship. Eliza had often babysat for Gertie and had often visited her for a week at a time. Eliza and her brother, John Nolan, visited each other at least once a month throughout their adult lives. Although he did not see Eliza, John was told her remains were collected in a basket. John suffered numerous sleepless nights and required medical treatment after Eliza’s death.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Harris, J.)
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