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Whittaker v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

August 28, 2019

SHADDY WHITTAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PAUL G. BYRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, a federal inmate acting pro se, initiated this case by filing a civil rights complaint alleging constitutional violations[1] by individual federal actors in connection with an injury to his right hand. (Doc. 1.) The defendants moved to dismiss and/or for summary judgment (Docs. 16, 18), and their motions were granted without prejudice to any claim Plaintiff may have under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for medical malpractice. (Doc. 34); 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671, 1346(b).

         Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint against the United States, pursuant to the FTCA, on April 2, 2018. (Doc. 39.) The United States filed its Answer on April 17, 2018. (Doc. 40.) After a period of discovery, the United States moved for summary judgment. (Doc. 50.) Plaintiff filed his response in opposition on April 24, 2019. (Docs. 57, 58.) This matter is ripe for review. For the reasons discussed below, the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 50) is due to be granted.

         A. Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on January 12, 2015, while incarcerated at FCC Coleman Low, he injured his hand after a fall. He states that his right hand was fractured with weak bone fragments. Plaintiff alleges that medical staff at Coleman Low were negligent by not treating the fracture in a timely manner, and this resulted in a “healing displacement.” (Doc. 39, p. 5.) For relief, Plaintiff seeks $400, 000 in damages, costs, and an injunction compelling Coleman Low to revise its medical treatment policies. (Id.)

         B. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A genuine issue of material fact exists where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In applying the standard for summary judgment, the Court must review all of the evidence “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The nonmoving party must go “beyond the pleadings, [and show] that there exist genuine issues of material fact.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

         C. United States' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 50)

         The United States has moved, pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for summary judgment in its favor. The United States contends that summary judgment is appropriate because: (1) Plaintiff failed to timely file his administrative claim; and (2) the undisputed material facts show that Plaintiff has failed to retain a medical expert to offer standard of care opinions as required by Florida law in a medical malpractice case. In support of its motion, the United States attaches:

Exhibit 1: Plaintiff's Inmate Data
Exhibit 2: Declaration of Dr. Leonor Bonnet-Engebretson, Acting Clinical Director at FCC Coleman, as to Plaintiff's course of treatment
Exhibit 3: Plaintiff's Medical Records
• Exhibit 4: Declaration and Certification of Records by Jeanie Register, Legal Assistant at FCC Coleman, as to ...

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