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Burt v. Winona Health

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 28, 2018

Jamie Burt and Mitchell Burt, each individually and as Parents and Natural Guardians of R.B., a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
Winona Health, Winona Health Services, Winona Health's Women's Health Center, Troy J. Shelton, M.D., and Grace Rasmussen, R.N., Defendants.

          Gerald D. Jowers, Jr., Esq., Kenneth M. Suggs, Esq., Patrick A. Thronson, Esq., and Sharon R. Morgan, Esq., Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC; and Wilbur W. Fluegel, Esq., Fluegel Law Office, counsel for Plaintiffs.

          Bryon Glen Ascheman, Esq., Chad J. Hintz, Esq., and Richard J. Thomas, Esq., Burke & Thomas, PLLP; and Cecilie M. Loidolt, Esq., and Sarah M. Hoffman, Esq., Bassford Remele, counsel for Defendants Winona Health, Winona Health Services.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motions for Partial Summary Judgment. (Doc. Nos. 66, 71). For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motions.

         BACKGROUND

         Parents of minor R.B. brought a claim against their OB/GYN (Defendant Troy J. Shelton), a prenatal nurse (Defendant Grace Rasmussen), and the hospital (Defendant Winona Health[1]) after R.B developed cerebral palsy allegedly as a result of negligence by the defendants. Both Nurse Rasmussen and Dr. Shelton were employees of Winona Health at the time. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on four claims: (1) corporate negligence; (2) negligent credentialing of the nurses; (3) Nurse Rasmussen's failure to activate the chain of command or notify Dr. Shelton; and (4) negligence based on a failure to follow policies or hospital guidelines.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper if there are no disputed issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must view the evidence and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank of Mo., 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). However, as the Supreme Court has stated, “[s]ummary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed ‘to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.'” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 327 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Enter. Bank, 92 F.3d at 747. The nonmoving party must demonstrate the existence of specific facts in the record that create a genuine issue for trial. Krenik v. Cty. of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995). A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment “may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986).

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment before discovery has concluded. As a general rule, “summary judgment is proper only after the nonmovant has had adequate time for discovery.” Toben v. Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, 751 F.3d 888, 894 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). As a result, the Court can elect to defer deciding the motion until the parties have conducted adequate discovery if the nonmovant can demonstrate that “for specified reasons, [the nonmovant] cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d); see also Toben, 751 F.3d at 894. Specifically, “[t]he party seeking additional discovery must show: (1) that they have set forth in affidavit form the specific facts that they hope to elicit from further discovery, (2) that the facts sought exist, and (3) that these sought-after facts are ‘essential' to resist the summary judgment motion.” Toben, 751 F.3d at 895; accord Jackson v. Riebold, 815 F.3d 1114, 1121 (8th Cir. 2016); Marvin Lumber & Cedar Co. v. Marvin Architectural Ltd., Civ. No. 16-887, 2016 WL 6595902, at *3 (D. Minn. Nov. 7, 2016).

         II. Corporate Negligence

         Defendants move for summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claims against Winona Health for direct liability under a theory of corporate negligence.[2] In its opposition, Plaintiffs contend that Winona Health was directly liable because it negligently ...


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