United States District Court, D. New Jersey
THE ESTATE OF JON LEON WATSON by and through its Administrator ad Prosequendum, HELEN RAY LLOYD, and HELEN RAY LLOYD, in her own right, Plaintiffs,
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, et al., Defendants.
H. RODRIGUEZ U.S.D.J.
matter is before the Court on motion for summary judgment
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 by Defendant CFG Health Systems,
LLC (“CFG”). CFG seeks dismissal of
Plaintiff's medical malpractice/ professional negligence
claims for failure to timely provide an Affidavit of Merit as
required by N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:53A-29. The Court has
reviewed the submissions and decides the matter based on the
briefs pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons stated
here, Defendant CFG's motion will be granted.
provided health services at Cumberland County Jail when Jon
Leon Watson was admitted as an inmate. On June 3, 2016,
Watson was found hanging in his cell; he had committed
judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material
fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Pearson v. Component
Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n.1 (3d Cir. 2001)
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a). Thus, the Court
will enter summary judgment in favor of a movant who shows
that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and
supports the showing that there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact by “citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory
answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56
issue is “genuine” if supported by evidence such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the
nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is
“material” if, under the governing substantive
law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the
suit. Id. In determining whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all
reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party
has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by
affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v.
Bally's Park Place, Inc., 870 F.Supp. 1254,
1258 (D.N.J. 1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported
motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must
identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that
contradict those offered by the moving party.
Andersen, 477 U.S. at 256-57. “A nonmoving
party may not ‘rest upon mere allegations, general
denials or . . . vague statements . . . .'”
Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, Int'l Union
of Operating Eng'rs, 982 F.2d 884, 890 (3d
Cir. 1992) (quoting Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934
F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir. 1991)). Indeed,
the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon
motion, against a party who fails 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.
477 U.S. at 322. That is, the movant can support the
assertion that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed by showing
that “an adverse party cannot produce admissible
evidence to support the [alleged dispute of] fact.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B); accord Fed.R.Civ.P.
deciding the merits of a party's motion for summary
judgment, the court's role is not to evaluate the
evidence and decide the truth of the matter, but to determine
whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
Credibility determinations are the province of the
factfinder. Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am.,
Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).
Jersey's Affidavit of Merit Statute was enacted
“‘as part of a tort reform package designed to
strike a fair balance between preserving a person's right
to sue and controlling nuisance suits.'” Nuveen
Mun. Trust v. Withumsmith Brown, P.C., 692 F.3d 283, 290
(3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Natale v. Camden Cty. Corr.
Facility, 318 F.3d 575, 579 (3d Cir. 2003)). The
Affidavit of Merit Statute requires:
[i]n any action for damages for personal injuries, wrongful
death or property damage resulting from an alleged act of
malpractice or negligence by a licensed person in his
profession or occupation, the plaintiff shall, within 60 days
following the date of filing of the answer to the complaint
by the defendant, provide each defendant with an affidavit of
an appropriate licensed person [stating] that there exists a
reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge
exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice or work
that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside acceptable
professional or occupational standards or treatment