United States District Court, D. Idaho
MARK L. MANSFIELD and THERESA A. MANSFIELD, individually, and on behalf of their minor child CM, Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
LYNN WINMILL, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Court has before it a motion for partial summary judgment
filed by the Government. The Court heard oral argument on
December 13, 2019, and granted the motion from the bench.
This decision will supplement the Court's oral ruling.
March 16, 2017, plaintiff CM, a minor child, and his dog
Kasey were playing in the area about 300 yards from their
home. CM saw what looked like a pipe protruding from the
ground. He did not know that the “pipe” was an
M/44 cyanide bomb placed by the Government to kill wolves and
coyotes that might be preying on livestock. No. warning signs
were installed. CM pulled on the device and it exploded,
spraying cyanide on CM's face, left eye, left arm, and
his legs and his chest, leaving an orange powdery residue on
him. The explosion also sprayed cyanide on Kasey. While CM
survived the incident, the dog died. The family - CM and Mark
Mansfield, his father, and Theresa Mansfield, his mother -
filed this lawsuit to recover damages for their injuries. The
Government has agreed not to contest negligence and the
remaining issues are causation and damages.
Government's motion for partial summary judgment seeks to
dismiss “all personal injury claims, all claims arising
from Plaintiffs' fear of future injury, all intentional
infliction of emotional distress claims, and all of Mark and
Theresa Mansfield's negligent infliction of emotional
distress claims.” See Motion (Dkt. No. 29).
Injury Claims - Claims for Damages for Cyanide
Court will first address the Government's motion seeking
to dismiss the personal injury claims based on cyanide
exposure. Those personal injuries include CM's migraine
headaches, and vomiting, that started after the incident. The
record indicates that, initially, he suffered from migraine
headaches every 5 to 6 days, but currently is experiencing
them every 2 to 3 weeks. CM is taking medication for the
headaches which make it harder for him to pay attention so
that he has to work harder in school. He also has suffered
from numbness in his left hand and forearm, and has
nightmares where he experiences the event again and again.
Also, at times both of his eyes get red and burn.
is no dispute that cyanide can kill or, in lesser doses,
cause physical ailments such as headaches. There is also no
dispute that CM was exposed to cyanide and there are at least
questions of fact over the parents' exposure: Theresa
Mansfield reached down the throat of the convulsing Kelsey
thinking he might be choking and then held him in her lap;
Mark Mansfield carried Kelsey down the hill to their driveway
getting bloody slobber on himself.
issue is whether this cyanide exposure caused any ailments.
At the hearing, plaintiffs alleged for the first time that a
medical record from a treating physician contains the
necessary expert testimony to show that the cyanide exposure
caused their ailments. This argument was not contained in the
briefing. The medical record was prepared by a Dr. M.
Elizabeth Gerard, who appears to be a neurologist. The record
relied on by plaintiffs is dated March 30, 2017, and was
prepared following Dr. Gerard's exam of CM. It states
[h]is exam is normal. It is likely the symptoms he has
experienced are from exposure. Unfortunately, not much is
known about low level exposure and chronic neurologic effects
other than the well described parkinsonian syndrome. He is
improving now, do not think that MRI would be helpful. If
symptoms continue, they will let me know. May consider
referral to Primary children's neurology department.
See Records (Dkt. No. 29-17). Plaintiffs have not
submitted any affidavit of Dr.
and her deposition was never taken. There is nothing in the
record concerning her qualifications. She says causation is
“likely” but does not explain whether she reaches
that conclusion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
An expert opinion would need to describe the symptoms and
identify her methodology for concluding that the cyanide
exposure caused those symptoms. She never identifies the
“symptoms” she refers to. What is the level of
“exposure” that she assumed? Is she merely
recounting what CM told her or did she conduct an independent
analysis of her own? All the medical tests in the record show
no cyanide levels in the blood and CM's MRI showed no
damage. So she cannot be relying on other medical ...