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Winters v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 12, 2014

JOHN WINTERS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant

Decided: June 11, 2014.

For John Winters, Plaintiff: Hank G. Greenblatt, LEAD ATTORNEY, Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, Sacramento, CA.

For United States of America, Defendant: Gregory T. Broderick, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office, Sacramento, CA.

ORDER

KIMBERLY J. MUELLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

The government moves for summary judgment on the single claim brought by

Page 999

plaintiff John Winters. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. (" Mot." ) at 1, ECF No. 16-1. The court heard argument on June 6, 2014, with Hank G. Greenblatt appearing for plaintiff and Gregory T. Broderick appearing for the government. As explained below, the court GRANTS the motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was injured when recreationally riding his motorcycle on June 10, 2012 in Eldorado National Forest. Stipulated Fact 1-2, ECF No. 17. Plaintiff alleges the injury occurred as a result of hitting a large pothole on Silver Fork Road, the impact of which caused him to lose control of the vehicle, fall to the ground and injure his shoulder. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 2.

The accident occurred on government property. See Stipulated Fact 3. Although the property is generally open to the public, plaintiff was not expressly invited onto the land. Id. Plaintiff has no evidence that the government knew of the particular pothole at issue before the date of the accident or that it had caused any other accidents, id. 5-6, and he does not allege that the government engaged in willful or malicious conduct, see id. 7; Compl. ¶ ¶ 1-8.

Bringing a single claim for negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act (" FTCA" ), 28 U.S.C. § § 2671-2680, plaintiff filed suit in this court on April 29, 2013.

II. STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper where " there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). " Material" facts are those that " might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986), and an " issue of fact [is] . . . 'genuine'" where established by the presence or absence of " specific facts," not mere " metaphysical doubt," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). A moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law " [w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party . . . ." Id. at 587 (citing First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289, 88 S.Ct. 1575, 20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a) (" If a party has been fully heard on an issue . . . and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may . . . grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law . . . ." ).

The moving party bears the initial burden of showing " that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party successfully does so, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, who " must establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact . . . ." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 585. In carrying their burdens, both parties must " cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record . . . or show[] that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). On summary judgment, the court views all evidence and draws all ...


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