The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.
1. This is an action for money damages for personal injuries
which the plaintiff alleges arose out of an incident that
occurred during the night of December 15-16, 1960, at McNeil
Island, Washington, a federal penitentiary operated by the Bureau
of Prisons, an agency of the United States.
2. On December 15-16, 1960, the plaintiff, then 21 years old,
was a federal prisoner confined at McNeil Island Penitentiary.
Troy Lee Stringfellow, then 19 years old, was similarly confined
3. The plaintiff and Stringfellow were transferred to McNeil
Island from the Federal Correctional Institution at Lompoc,
California, an institution maintained for the incarceration of
youthful offenders, on December 13, 1960. They were two of a
group of over thirty inmates transferred from Lompoc to McNeil
Island, a transfer prompted by a decision by Bureau of Prisons
officials who had found the individuals in the group to be
problem inmates unable to adjust to the less structured
environment of the California facility.
4. Both the plaintiff and Stringfellow had prison records prior
to commencing the terms they were serving at the time of the
incident which gives rise to this action. The plaintiff was made
a ward of the Juvenile Court of Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1955, when
he was arrested for breaking and entering. He was in federal
custody from 1957 to 1959 for violation of the Dyer Act,
18 U.S.C. § 2312, initially at the Federal Reformatory, El Reno,
Oklahoma, then at the Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal
Island, California, and finally at Lompoc. He was conditionally
released on December 4, 1959, and paroled in January, 1960. He
was convicted on a second Dyer Act charge on March 21, 1960, and
again sent to Lompoc.
5. Troy Lee Stringfellow's criminal record dates back to
January, 1958, when he was arrested in California. He admitted
several burglaries and attempted burglaries. The Juvenile Court
placed him in a Boys' School, where he spent seven months before
being paroled in July, 1958. He was arrested for violation of the
Dyer Act on August 7, 1959, and, upon conviction, incarcerated at
6. While at Lompoc, Stringfellow received nine misconduct
reports. On November 10, 1960, upon review by the Classification
Committee at the prison (a body composed of Associate Wardens,
the individual's caseworker, and the Chief of Classification at
the Institution) the decision was made to recommend his transfer
to McNeil Island. The Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C.,
concurred and on December 7, 1960, an order of transfer was sent
to the Warden at Lompoc.
7. On December 13, 1960, the plaintiff, Stringfellow, and about
30 other prisoners were transferred from Lompoc to McNeil Island.
All of them were assigned to the Admissions & Orientation Unit,
where incoming prisoners are customarily housed until they are
assigned to a specific program within the institution. All of the
individuals in the group of transferees from Lompoc were
interviewed individually by the Associate Wardens and Custodial
Supervisors immediately upon arrival. Each prisoner's dossier
went with him to McNeil Island and the records of all the
prisoners were available to the Bureau of Prisons officials at
the prison as soon as they arrived.
9. At 2:30 A.M. on December 16, 1960, Stringfellow assaulted
the sleeping Fleishour by hitting him on the head with a tank
type fire extinguisher which was situated in the dormitory.
10. The Bureau of Prisons employee in charge of the Admissions
& Orientation Unit from 12:15 A.M. to 8:15 A.M., December 16, was
Senior Correctional Officer Claude O. Connell. Officer Connell
had responsibility for the supervision of the cell blocks on the
upper three floors and the dormitory.
11. At the time of the assault Officer Connell was at his
station in the Admissions & Orientation Unit on the floor above
the dormitory where he was sorting mail. The officer's station
consisted of a desk in the corridor of the stairway which ran
from the dormitory room to the three floors of cell blocks. He
heard a noise and checked his immediate surroundings on A tier.
Upon hearing the noise again he immediately went to the floor
below to investigate. When he entered the large dormitory he
found an inmate, one Aldridge, holding Stringfellow, who was
trying desperately to take off a pair of prison-issue socks which
he was wearing on his hands. Officer Connell inquired as to what
had occurred and then heard a moan to his left. There, he found
the plaintiff lying on the floor, his head, back, and shoulders
covered with blood.
12. Officer Connell immediately called his superior, Lieutenant
Victor N. Downing, who was in the Control Center, a building next
to the Admissions and Orientation Unit. Connell then returned to
the inmates. He asked Stringfellow what he had used to strike
Fleishour, but Stringfellow did not answer. Inmate Aldridge
informed the officer that Stringfellow had hit Fleishour with a
fire extinguisher, which Aldridge then pointed out and which was
bloody. As Fleishour was removed to the hospital, Stringfellow