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Galloway v. Federal Tort Claims Act

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

July 31, 2019

CHARLES LEONARD GALLOWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS. 62, 80]

          BENITA Y. PEARSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are Plaintiff Charles Leonard Galloway's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 62, supplemented at ECF No. 78) and Defendant the United States of America's[1] (the “United States” or the “Government”) motion to dismiss and for summary judgment (ECF No. 80). The Government filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 82) to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff did not file a reply. Plaintiff also did not file a response in opposition to the Government's motion. Insofar as Plaintiff's other filings reflect an argument in opposition to dismissal or summary judgment, however, the Court liberally construes the content of those filings. Plaintiff has submitted no evidence in support of his motion, nor in opposition to the Government's motion.

         For the reasons stated herein, summary judgment is granted in favor of the United States as to both remaining claims. Any claim of negligence or medical malpractice arising from Plaintiff's June 2014 seizure is dismissed.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff advances two distinct claims against the United States, both arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”).[2] The first sounds in medical malpractice, and the second sounds in ordinary negligence.

         Plaintiff has been in federal custody since 2011 and is scheduled to be released in 2028. ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 350; see BOP Inmate Locator, https://www.bop.gov/mobile/ find inmate/. He arrived at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio (“FCI Elkton”), in 2012, and he was transferred to FCI Schuylkill in Pennsylvania in November 2018. ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 363, 366.

         In September 2013, while housed at FCI Elkton, Plaintiff presented to sick call complaining that his “tongue didn't work.” No. 4:16-CV-572-BYP (N.D. Ohio, filed Mar. 9, 2016), ECF No. 1 at PageID#: 4; No. 4:17-CV-1314-BYP (N.D. Ohio, filed Jun3 22, 2017), ECF No. 62-2 at PageID#: 262. He was turned away, however, when the physician insisted Plaintiff was “faking it.” No. 4:16-CV-572, ECF No. 1 at PageID#: 4; No. 4:17-CV-1314, ECF No. 62-2 at PageID#: 262. The nurse, perceiving that Plaintiff was behaving in a threatening manner, called an emergency, and Plaintiff was placed in the Special Housing Unit for several days. No. 4:16-CV-572, ECF No. 1 at PageID#: 4; No. 4:17-CV-1314, ECF No. 62-2 at PageID#: 262. While there, on September 18, 2013, he suffered a stroke. Id. at PageID#: 367. Plaintiff was transported in an ambulance to an outside medical facility and eventually to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, where an evaluation revealed that surgery was not necessary. No. 4:16-CV-572, ECF No. 1 at PageID#: 4; No. 4:17-CV-1314, ECF No. 78 at PageID#: 323; ECF No. 80-4 at PageID#: 504. He was later transported to another facility for rehabilitation. ECF No. 80-4 at PageID#: 504.

         Over the course of the following years, Plaintiff was treated for complications resulting from his stroke, including “residual seizure disorder[, ] aphasia[, ] abnormal gait[, ] and movement disorder.”[3] See ECF No. 80-3 at PageID#: 470-503; ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 391-404. Specifically, he was prescribed a twice-daily dosage of anti-seizure medicine (“Keppra”) and was counseled that his safety, including adherence to that prescription, was “paramount.” See ECF No. 80-3 at PageID#: 475; ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 398 (“two times a day”). Despite those complications, Plaintiff's “comprehension . . . remains intact, ” ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 467, and he routinely presents as “alert and oriented, ” ECF No. 80-3 at PageID#: 473, 477, 498, 500. Plaintiff acknowledges that he falls down often. ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 366-68.

         On June 6, 2014, Plaintiff suffered a seizure. Although Plaintiff suggests he “couldn't have missed [a dose]” of his anti-seizure medication, medical records reflect that his seizure occurred because Plaintiff “[m]issed 10 doses of Keppra.” ECF No. 80-3 at PageID#: 472. Plaintiff was immediately sent to St. Elizabeth's Hospital to be checked, id., and he reports no complications or injuries arising from the June 2014 seizure.

         On November 3, 2016, while walking through the dish line at the chow hall, Plaintiff slipped and fell on a wet floor. No. 4:17-CV-1314, ECF No. 1 at PageID#: 3; see ECF No. 80-3 at PageID#: 496-501. He says an inmate who worked as a dishwasher was spraying water indiscriminately on the counter and on the floor. ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 363-64, 383-84. Plaintiff does not know whether wet floor signs were placed in the chow hall at the time, id. at PageID#: 388, but he acknowledges that the chow hall was well lighted and that he was familiar with the area around the dish line. Id. at PageID#: 378-79, 363-64.

         Plaintiff was taken immediately to Health Services, and from there he was transported to a local hospital for a precautionary CT scan. Id. at PageID#: 386-88; see ECF No. 80-5 at PageID#: 531. The CT scan was returned negative for any brain injuries. ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 386-88; see ECF No. 80-5 at PageID#: 531. Back at FCI Elkton, Plaintiff was examined, given acetaminophin (“Tylenol”) for pain, and sent on his way. See ECF No. 80-2 at PageID#: 421-30; ECF No. 80-3 at PageID#: 495-501. Several follow-up visits revealed some pain in his back but no lasting injuries. ECF No. 80-3 at PageID#: 490-95.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriately granted when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show “that 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); see also Johnson v. Karnes, 398 F.3d 868, 873 (6th Cir. 2005). The moving party is not required to file affidavits or other similar materials negating a claim on which its opponent bears the burden of proof, so long as the movant relies upon the absence of the essential element in the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party must “show that the non-moving party has failed to establish an essential element of his case upon which he would bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial.” Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trustees, 980 F.2d 399, 403 (6th Cir. 1992).

         Once the movant makes a properly supported motion, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate the existence of a genuine dispute. An opposing party may not simply rely on its pleadings; rather, it must “produce evidence that results in a conflict of material fact to be resolved by a jury.” Cox. v. Ky. Dep't of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 150 (6th Cir. 1995). To defeat the motion, the non-moving party must “show that there is doubt as to the material facts and that the record, taken as a whole, does not lead to a judgment for the movant.” Guarino, 980 F.2d at 403. In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party when ...


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