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Rodriguez-Aguirre v. United States

United States District Court, D. Colorado

November 25, 2019

GABRIEL RODRIGUEZ-AGUIRRE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND ORDER OF JUDGMENT

          Kristen L Mix United States Magistrate Judge

         This case was tried to the Court on March 28-29, 2019. The parties subsequently submitted post-trial briefs [# 158, #160], [1] which the Court has considered. For the reasons set forth in this Order, the Court generally resolves the issues in favor of the Defendant.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         1. At the time of the events which led to this lawsuit, Plaintiff Gabriel Rodriguez-Aguirre (“Mr. Rodriguez-Aguirre” or “Plaintiff”) was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado (“FCI Englewood”). [#159] at 1.

         2. On December 26, 2012 at approximately 9:00 a.m., Plaintiff slipped and fell in the Education Building at FCI Englewood. [#159] at 2. The Education Building houses the Education Department. Plaintiff fell during an inmate movement period. Inmate movement periods occur every hour throughout the day beginning at 7:00 a.m. [#159] at 8.

         3. On December 26, 2012, the weather in Englewood, Colorado, was sunny and cold. There was some accumulated snow on the ground outside the Education Building from prior snowfall. [#159] at 13.

         4. There was water on the floor of the Education Building at the time and in the location of Plaintiff's fall. [#161-1] at 3.

         5. Plaintiff did not see the water before he fell. [#161-1] at 5-6.

         6. Plaintiff fell because he slipped in the water. [#161-1] at 5.

         7. Plaintiff was 67 years old at the time of the fall. He had a history of chronic injuries and illnesses including dizziness, vertigo, syncope, diabetes, low back pain, kidney disease, headaches, left shoulder degenerative joint disease, peripheral polyneuropathy, reflux disease, hypertension, epicondylitis and postural hypertension. [#159] at 11.

         8. Plaintiff severed the quadriceps tendon in his right leg as a result of the fall. He received medical treatment, including surgery, following the fall. [#132] at 3. Plaintiff suffered pain in his right leg as a result of the fall and thereafter. The functioning of his right leg is permanently impaired as a result of the fall. [#161-1] at 19-20. Plaintiff's medical care relating to the fall was paid for by the United States Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). [#159] at 16.

         9. The source of the water on the floor of the Education Building on December 26, 2012 is unknown, as is the exact time when the water appeared.

         10. In December of 2012, FCI Englewood had an Institution Plan Housekeeping/Sanitation policy (the “Institution Plan”). [#159] at 7.

         11. The Education Department had a staff of approximately 15 to 23 inmate orderlies who were responsible for maintaining the floors in the Education Building, including cleaning the floors and ensuring that they were dry during inclement weather. [#159] at 3.

         12. The inmate ORDER lies were primarily supervised by Education Technician Shellie Taylor. [#159] at 4. Ms. Taylor was not at work in the morning on December 26, 2012 when Plaintiff fell. [#161-1] at 15.

         13. The inmate orderlies received training on how to perform their jobs, including using caution signs to mark wet floors, placing floor mats on the floors, and cleaning the floors in the Education Department so ...


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