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Bailey v. Cherokee Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

November 6, 2017

JERRI L. BAILEY Plaintiff,
v.
CHEROKEE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          LEONARD T. STRAND, CHIEF JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case is before me on a motion (Doc. No. 19) for summary judgment filed by defendant Cherokee Regional Medical Center (CRMC). Plaintiff Jerri L. Bailey (Bailey) has not filed a resistance and the deadline for any resistance was October 23, 2017. The motion is ready for decision.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On December 14, 2016, Bailey filed a pro se complaint (Doc. No. 1) against CRMC.[1] Bailey alleges that she was at CRMC for physical therapy on December 15, 2014. After finishing therapy she slipped and fell on her way to the shower /changing room, injuring her left knee and breaking her left femur. She alleges that CRMC breached a duty of care and that she suffered damages as a result. The jury trial of this matter is scheduled to begin August 13, 2018.

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS

         Any party may move for summary judgment regarding all or any part of the claims asserted in a case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322(1986).

         A material fact is one that '"might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.'" Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus, "the substantive law will identify which facts are material." Id. Facts that are "critical" under the substantive law are material, while facts that are "irrelevant or unnecessary" are not. Id.

         An issue of material fact is genuine if it has a real basis in the record, Hartnagel v. Norman, 953 F.2d 394, 395 (8th Cir. 1992) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)), or when "'a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party' on the question." Woods v. Daimler Chrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Evidence that only provides "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, " Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586, or evidence that is "merely colorable" or "not significantly probative, " Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, does not make an issue of material fact genuine.

         As such, a genuine issue of material fact requires "sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute" so as to "require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. The party moving for entry of summary judgment bears "the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which show a lack of a genuine issue." Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 395 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and by depositions, affidavits, or otherwise, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910 (8th Cir. 2005). The nonmovant must show an alleged issue of fact is genuine and material as it relates to the substantive law. If a party fails to make a sufficient showing of an essential element of a claim or defense with respect to which that party has the burden of proof, then the opposing party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

         In determining if a genuine issue of material fact is present, I must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587-88. Further, I must give the nonmoving party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the facts. Id. However, "because we view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, we do not weigh the evidence or attempt to determine the credibility of the witnesses." Kammueller v. Loomis, Fargo & Co., 383 F.3d 779, 784 (8th Cir. 2004). Instead, "the court's function is to determine whether a dispute about a material fact is genuine." Quick v. Donaldson Co., Inc., 90 F.3d 1372, 1376-77 (8th Cir. 1996).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Bailey has not responded to CRMC's motion for summary judgment. If the nonmoving party fails to respond, the court may enter summary judgment if appropriate. Donnell v. City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 437 F.Supp.2d 904, 928 (N.D. Iowa 2006); Sherk v. Adesa Atlanta, LLC, 432 F.Supp.2d 1358, 1374 (N.D.Ga. 2006). If the moving party has met its burden of demonstrating no genuine issue of material fact and the nonmoving party has failed to respond, the district court is not required to search the record to find an issue of material fact. Barge v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 87 F.3d 256, 260 (8th Cir. 1996); see also Peters v. Woodbury County, Iowa, 979 F.Supp.2d 901, 966 (N.D. Iowa 2013) ("failure to respond at all to a movant's assertion ... is the clearest way in which a non-movant can fail to meet its burden" to show specific facts of a genuine issue for trial). However, for the reasons discussed below, I find that CRMC has not met its initial burden of demonstrating no genuine issue of material fact.

         CRMC bases its motion on the fact that Bailey has not disclosed any expert medical opinion testimony. Doc. No. 19-1. CRMC contends Bailey is alleging medical negligence by basing her claim on CRMC's "medical judgments" and argues that such a claim requires expert testimony to establish the proper standard of care. Doc. No. 19 at 1-2. CRMC is generally correct with respect to the expert testimony requirement in medical negligence cases. See Kennis v. Mercy Hosp. Medical Center,491 N.W.2d 161, 167 (Iowa 1992) ("the nature of this malpractice action requires expert testimony to establish defendants' negligence"); Thompson v. Embassy Rehabilitation and Care Center,604 N.W.2d 643, 646 (Iowa 2000) ...


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