A West Virginia woman visited a congressional office two years ago this month. While waiting for her meeting, she was bitten on the finger by a staffer’s dog.
So, naturally, she’s suing the House of Representatives for $200,000 for her physical and emotional harm.
According to the lawsuit, filed Friday in D.C. federal court, Elizabeth Crawford was invited to the Washington office of Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) in January 2013. While waiting for her appointment, she dropped her pen. When she bent down to pick it up, an unattended dog named Who Dey bit her on the right index finger. The dog, the suit says, did not have a current rabies vaccination.
In the suit, Crawford says she sustained “severe and permanent bodily injuries and mental anguish; she has incurred medical expenses attempting to cure herself of such injuries; and her normal, social and recreational activities have been curtailed.”
Her attorney, Benjamin Pelton, said the small dog drew blood and damaged a nerve. He said that the bite resulted in $26,000 in medical bills, including a surgery to straighten her tendon and rabies shots. The other $174,000 she’s seeking? “Pain and suffering,” he said.
The lawsuit accuses the dog’s owner, Chris Tudor, a staffer in McClintock’s office, of “negligence” for creating an “unsafe and hazardous condition” by having Who Dey roaming the office. Who Dey, according to a photo on the national Humane Society’s Flickr page in 2011, is a black dog who Tudor wrote “once challenged his own reflection to a staring contest. On the 4th day, he won.” The photo seems to show Who Dey behind a desk in a congressional office.
McClintock’s office has not returned requests for comment. Neither has the House’s Office of the General Counsel.
Pelton said Crawford sent a claim for damages to the House counsel in July. “They made a ridiculously low settlement offer” in the four figures, Pelton said. So Crawford filed suit.
Crawford was scheduled to meet with McClintock’s office about domestic-violence issues when the incident occurred. She told the Loop she “bled profusely” but still went to the meeting. Crawford didn’t want to answer any other questions.
A new session of Congress commences Tuesday, which means that 73 freshman members and their staffs have to start figuring out how to actually operate on Capitol Hill.
Not just how to get the “people’s business” done (many veteran members are still mulling over that one), but how to literally find their way.
Among the many quirks of navigating the Hill is deciphering the clocks. To a novice, they look like normal clocks, the ones you remember from high school classrooms. But these clocks don’t just tell time; they are guides for floor procedure.
Knowing what the red lights on the clocks mean will let you know whether, for instance, you have enough time for that mid-afternoon frozen-yogurt run (newbies, this will become a daily ritual) or whether your boss can squeeze in one more phone call.
The Twitter account for the Capitol Visitor Center tweeted a guide to understanding the Hill’s clocks — and the bells that (again like high school) chime to let members and staffers know what’s happening on the floor.
The tweet directs this guide specifically to new staffers. That’s probably because there’s a good chance your boss won’t ever really figure out that in the House two lights on the clock means quorum call (it’s three lights in the Senate) or that four lights means the House has adjourned for the day.
So it’s up to you to be the clock translator. (As well as mail opener, phone answerer, legislation writer, hearing preparer — and sometimes driver, dog walker, party planner . . . )
Welcome to Congress!
Looking for inspiration to keep that New Year’s resolution to get in shape?
Lance Armstrong was working out in Aspen in the final days of 2014 when he spotted a famous former diplomat sweating it out on a neighboring machine. Naturally, the disgraced cyclist tweeted about the sighting: “Snowy/cold here in Aspen. Was running on treadmill hating it then 77 yr old @madeleine starts crushing the elliptical next to me. #Inspiring”
It may surprise some that Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, was working out — and apparently crushing it. But Albright has long been something of a gym rat. She’s bragged about leg-pressing over 400 pounds. And just last October, General Mills put her face on a box of Wheaties, a spot long reserved for superstar athletes.
So how much of a fitness buff is Albright? The Loop spoke to Margo Carper, a D.C. personal trainer who has worked out with Albright on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for 14 years.
When we told Carper that Albright was spotted by Armstrong working out and “crushing it,” the trainer laughed and said, “Of course she was.”
Albright came to Carper to get in shape almost as soon as she left the State Department. The former secretary once joked that with all the diplomatic dinners over her career, she “got very fat because I was eating for my country.”
“She was an unlikely candidate to start working out in her 60s and then to still stay with it,” Carper said. “I have to tell you she’s incredibly impressive. She’s 50 pounds lighter, and she’s kept it off.”
Their goal is to keep Albright’s energy up so she can continue traveling and working as if she were still 50 years old.
“She doesn’t want to stop,” Carper added. “She was able to put it together that working out was going to help her do that.”
In a testimonial on Carper’s Web site, Albright wrote that her idea of exercise used to be “running for a plane.” But now, “no matter how exhausted I feel when I arrive, the exercise always makes me feel better.”
When it comes to working out, Carper said, “she doesn’t make excuses.”
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz