JAMES K. SHORT, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
SHARON L. GLEASON, District Judge.
This is an action brought against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Complaint was filed in November 2010,  and relates to medical care that was provided to Plaintiff James Short by the Bureau of Prisons in December 2007. Mr. Short seeks an award of damages of $500, 000.
This matter was reassigned to the undersigned judge in January 2012. A six-day bench trial was held in early May 2012.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a) provides that "[i]n an action tried on the facts without a jury... the Court must find the facts specially and state its conclusion of law separately." Having considered the testimony of the witnesses, the exhibits admitted into evidence, and the arguments of counsel, this Court now makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law as set forth below.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. A total of fourteen witnesses testified at the trial.
2. In addition to himself, Mr. Short called the following witnesses: Louis Shicker M.D., who provided expert testimony; Heather Gardner; Renee Lynn Bond; Reid Stratton; Angela Marie Strahan; Janice Short; Francis Leland Jones, M.D.; Albert Joseph DiVittorio, M.D.; and Steven Liu, M.D.
3. The United States called the following witnesses: Jennifer Ashley Ramsey; David W. Keene; Shawn Adele Roberts, who provided expert testimony; and Sam Whiting, M.D., who provided expert testimony.
4. Many documents were admitted into evidence, most of which consisted of Mr. Short's medical records.
5. Plaintiff Short was the first witness to testify at trial. He testified that he was in good shape when he entered the federal prison system in early 2007, indicating he could bench press 405 pounds, and worked out three to four days per week. But he also testified that he had injured his shoulder in a car accident in Hawaii in approximately 2000, had surgery on it in 2004, and that it was quite painful while he was in Sheridan. Mr. Short testified that he frequently sought medical treatment from the physician assistants (PAs) in Sheridan for his shoulder, and asked and obtained from them documentation that would identify him as ineligible for work due to the shoulder injury. Mr. Short also testified that he never had an office visit longer than five minutes with any PA while at Sheridan.
6. Mr. Short testified that he first experienced rectal bleeding about two or three weeks before he first reported it to PA Keene on December 18, 2007. At that visit, Mr. Short indicated that his shoulder was his highest priority because it was very painful. With regard to the rectal bleeding, Mr. Short testified that PA Keene told him at that visit that "at his age, it's most likely hemorrhoids." He testified that PA Keene had told him to get hemorrhoid cream from the commissary and to return to the clinic if the condition persisted. Mr. Short testified that he repeatedly told PA Keene at that visit that he thought he had Crohn's disease.
7. Although Mr. Short indicated he told the PA that he also had pain higher up in his abdomen, Mr. Short testified that PA Keene seemed unconcerned about that. And Mr. Short testified that PA Keene did not ask to perform a digital rectal exam. He added that if he had been offered that exam, he would have consented to it. Mr. Short agreed that it would have been unreasonable for him to have refused that exam if it had been offered to him. Mr. Short also testified that PA Keene did not tell Mr. Short that cancer could cause rectal bleeding.
8. On cross examination, the government introduced multiple requests for medical treatment and other forms from Sheridan, which all appear to have been completed by, or based on information from, Mr. Short. Apart from the record of December 18, 2007, none of the Sheridan records identifies any issue with rectal bleeding.
9. Although at times Mr. Short testified at trial that he may have told the PAs at Sheridan about rectal bleeding prior to the December 18, 2007 visit, this Court finds that Mr. Short's testimony that he first apprised medical staff at Sheridan about the bleeding on December 18, 2007 to be his most credible testimony on this topic. Likewise, although at times Mr. Short testified at trial that he had experienced rectal bleeding and pain in his abdomen throughout his entire stay at Sheridan, this Court was thoroughly persuaded by his testimony at trial that he did not experience rectal bleeding until a few weeks before he reported it to PA Keene on December 18, 2007, and that he did not experience abdominal pain while at Sheridan. ...