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Amina Bookey Mudey v. United States of America et al

May 18, 2011

AMINA BOOKEY MUDEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chesler, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on two motions for summary judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56: 1) by Defendant Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA"); and 2) by Defendant Irving Harold Smelson, M.D. ("Smelson"). For the reasons stated below, CCA's motion will be granted in part and denied in part, and Smelson's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

In brief, this case arises from a dispute over the medical care received by Plaintiff Amina Bookey Mudey while a civil immigration detainee at the Elizabeth Detention Center in 2007. The Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff received grossly inadequate medical care while detained, and asserts seven claims against the psychiatrist she alleges treated her, Irving Harold Smelson, M.D. ("Smelson"), against CCA, the operator of the facility, against the United States of America, and against a number of other members of the medical staff at the facility.

ANALYSIS

I. Relevant legal standard

A. Motions for summary judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate under FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) when the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the evidence establishes the moving party's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-movant, and it is material if, under the substantive law, it would affect the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence 'is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'" Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

"When the moving party has the burden of proof at trial, that party must show affirmatively the absence of a genuine issue of material fact: it must show that, on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229, 238 (3d Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. Four Parcels of Real Property, 941 F.2d 1428, 1438 (11th Cir. 1991)). "[W]ith respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof . . . the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing' -- that is, pointing out to the district court -- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.

Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the party opposing the motion must establish that a genuine issue as to a material fact exists. Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Lacey Township, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109 (3d Cir. 1985). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment cannot rest on mere allegations and instead must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Siegel Transfer, Inc. v. Carrier Express, Inc., 54 F.3d 1125, 1130-31 (3d Cir. 1995). "[U]nsupported allegations . . . and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment." Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorporation, 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990). "A nonmoving party has created a genuine issue of material fact if it has provided sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find in its favor at trial." Gleason v. Norwest Mortg., Inc., 243 F.3d 130, 138 (3d Cir. 2001).

If the nonmoving party has failed "to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, . . . there can be 'no genuine issue of material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Katz v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 972 F.2d 53, 55 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23).

II. CCA's motion for summary judgment

CCA first moves for summary judgment on Count One, for medical malpractice, on the ground that all medical care was provided by the staff of the United States Public Health Service, not by CCA. Plaintiff's brief in opposition does not contest this. Rather, Plaintiff argues that her claim against CCA for negligence, in connection with CCA's duty to provide access to medical care, should proceed. This Court finds that Plaintiff has abandoned ...


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