Merchants National Bank & Trust Co. of Fargo v. United States

272 F. Supp. 409 (1967)

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Merchants National Bank & Trust Co. of Fargo v. United States

United States District Court for the District of North Dakota
272 F. Supp. 409 (1967)

  • Written by Nicole Gray , JD

Facts

Eloise A. Newgard was shot and killed by her husband (Newgard) while he was on work leave from a Veteran’s Administration Hospital at Fort Meade, South Dakota (VA) (defendant), where he was being treated for paranoid schizophrenia and psychosis. In January 1965, Newgard was committed to a state hospital by his county’s mental-health board after he became delusional at home, prompting Eloise to call the family’s physician, who recommended the commitment. Three months later, Newgard was transferred to the VA because he was a veteran. At the VA, Newgard was placed under the direct supervision of Dr. Leonard S. Linnell, a psychiatrist who treated Newgard with tranquilizers and saw him weekly along with a clinical psychologist. Newgard was also sent to a vocational psychologist, who started Newgard with various jobs around the hospital to test his job aptitudes. Newgard remained delusional while at the VA and wrote disturbing letters revealing homicidal tendencies, which were ignored. After being at the VA three months, Newman was released by Dr. Linnell to work on a ranch for rehabilitation. The VA’s vocational psychologist made the arrangements with the ranchers to provide work for Newgard, but he provided no guidance for the inexperienced ranchers and placed no restrictions on Newgard. The ranchers were only told that Newgard had had a mental breakdown. A week after working at the ranch and given no restrictions, Newgard left for the weekend, drove to where Eloise was staying, and killed her. Merchants National Bank & Trust Co. of Fargo (Merchants) (plaintiff) represented the estate of Eloise Newgard, suing the government for negligently treating Newgard under the Federal Torts Claim Act.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Davies, J.)

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