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Carla Montgomery v. United States of America

February 22, 2011

CARLA MONTGOMERY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge

ORDER:

(1) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR CONFERENCE SUMMARY JUDGMENT; (2) DIRECTING DEFENDANT TO FILE RENEWED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; (3) VACATING PRETRIAL

(Doc. No. 16)

Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 16.) Also before the Court are Plaintiff's opposition and Defendant's reply. (Doc. Nos. 22 (Opp'n), 24 (Reply).) Having reviewed the parties' arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND

This Federal Tort Claims Act action arises out of a slip and fall accident that occurred while Plaintiff was employed as a contract nurse at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD). (Doc. No. 1 (Compl.) ¶¶ 1--2.) The following facts are not in dispute: In February 2008, Plaintiff was an experienced circulating nurse*fn1 with eight years of experience. (Doc. Nos. 16-2 to -3 (Exs. ISO MSJ)

On July 22, 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint for negligence against Defendant. (Compl.) The complaint alleges that Defendant, as owner and operator of NMCSD, failed to maintain the floor of the operating room in a reasonably safe condition, and as a result, Plaintiff slipped and fell. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 22.) On October 4, 2010, Defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 16.) LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 permits a court to grant summary judgment where (1) the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and (2) entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "Material," for purposes of Rule 56, means that the fact, under governing substantive law, could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 735 (9th Cir. 1997). For a dispute to be "genuine," a reasonable jury must be able to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

The initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact falls on the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The movant can carry his burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party "failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof." Id. at 322--23. "Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

sterile field, and updates the patient's chart. (Id. at MSJ_0023, MSJ_0040.) In essence, the circulating nurse is "the watch dog of the [operating] room." (Id. at MSJ_0023.)

Once the moving party establishes the absence of genuine issues of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth facts showing that a genuine issue of disputed fact remains. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The nonmoving party cannot oppose a properly supported summary judgment motion by "rest[ing] on mere allegations or denials of his pleadings." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. When ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must view all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) provides for partial summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d)(1) ("If summary judgment is not rendered on the whole action, the court should, to the extent practicable, determine what material facts are not genuinely in issue. . . . It should then issue an order specifying what facts . . . are not genuinely at issue. The facts so specified must be treated as established in the action."). Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d), a court may grant summary judgment on less than the non-moving party's entire claim. Zapata Hermanos Sucesores, S.A. v. Hearthside Baking Co., 313 F.3d 385, 391 (7th Cir. 2002) (Posner, J.). "The partial summary judgment is merely a pretrial adjudication that certain issues shall be deemed established for the trial of the case. This adjudication . . . serves the purpose of speeding up litigation by eliminating before trial matters wherein there is no genuine issue of fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 advisory committee's note.

DISCUSSION

1. Defendant's Motion for ...


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