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Grant v. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Beckley Division

June 28, 2018

CAROLYN GRANT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          IRENE C. BERGER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court has reviewed the United States' Motion to Dismiss Defendants and Substitute the United States (Document 11) and supporting memorandum (Document 12). In addition, the Court has reviewed the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Document 14), supporting memorandum Document 15) and exhibits, the Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Document 16), and the United States of America's Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Document 19). For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that the motion to dismiss should be denied.

         FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         The Plaintiff, Carolyn Grant, is an inmate at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia. On March 13, 2015, Ms. Grant tripped on a broken sidewalk and hit her head on the concrete. She asserts that other inmates had tripped on the same broken sidewalk previously, making the prison aware of the dangerous condition of the sidewalk. Ms. Grant also asserts that inmates were required to walk on the sidewalks and could be disciplined for leaving the sidewalk to walk on the grass.

         After her fall, Ms. Grant went to Health Services in the prison, where the on-site doctor, an OB/GYN, told her to return to her dormitory and go to sleep. She began suffering extreme headache, nausea, and vision problems, and Health Services eventually transported her to the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Lewisburg, West Virginia. A CT scan revealed swelling and bleeding of the brain, and she was flown to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Another CT scan revealed continuous bleeding of the brain. She was admitted to the ICU, and then returned to the prison, to allow the brain swelling to subside in preparation for surgery. The prison staff required her to walk from place to place within the prison camp, and her condition deteriorated. Ms. Grant was returned to UVA and taken into surgery on March 19, 2015. She underwent another brain surgery on March 23, 2015, due to continued bleeding of the brain. On March 27, 2015, Ms. Grant was released to Summers County Rehabilitation in Hinton, West Virginia. After five physical therapy sessions, she was returned to the prison on April 9, 2015.

         Ms. Grant asserts that her medical bills totaled $264, 089.21 as of February 23, 2017. She has permanent impairments as a result of the fall, and anticipates needing continued medical care for the rest of her life. She had an MRI on April 28, 2016, and saw an outside neurologist on May 10, 2016. The outside neurologist diagnosed her with traumatic brain injury and lesions on her brain, and instructed her to continue treatment and receive additional MRIs. Prison officials have refused to permit her to continue receiving outside treatment.

         Ms. Grant asserts a claim, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for Negligence - Premises Liability. She filed an administrative tort claim on March 1, 2017. The Bureau of Prisons denied the administrative claim on October 18, 2017.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction - Rule 12(b)(1)

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) raises the fundamental question of whether a court is competent to hear and adjudicate the claims brought before it. “In contrast to its treatment of disputed issues of fact when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court asked to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction may resolve factual disputes to determine the proper disposition of the motion.” Thigpen v. United States, 800 F.2d 393, 396 (4th Cir. 1986) rejected on other grounds, Sheridan v. United States, 487 U.S. 392 (1988) (but explaining that a court should accept the allegations in the complaint as true when presented with a facial attack that argues insufficiency of the allegations in the complaint). Reasonable discovery may be necessary to permit the plaintiff to produce the facts and evidence necessary to support their jurisdictional allegations. Id. The plaintiff has the burden of proving that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir.1991). Dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is proper only if there is no dispute regarding the material jurisdictional facts and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., a Div. of Standex Int'l Corp., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999).

         B. Motion for Summary Judgment

         The well-established standard in consideration of a motion for summary judgment is that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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)-(c); see also Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 549 (1999); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Hoschar v. Appalachian Power Co., 739 F.3d 163, 169 (4th Cir. 2014). A “material fact” is a fact that could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; News & Observer Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010). A “genuine issue” concerning a material fact exists when the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. FDIC v. Cashion, 720 F.3d 169, 180 (4th Cir. 2013); News & Observer, 597 F.3d at 576.

         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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23. When determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must view all of the factual evidence, and any reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Hoschar, 739 F.3d at 169. However, the nonmoving party must offer some “concrete evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict in his favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. “At the summary judgment stage, the non-moving party must come forward with more than ‘mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another' to resist dismissal of the action.” Perry v. Kappos, No.11-1476, 2012 WL 2130908, at *3 (4th Cir. June 13, 2012) (unpublished decision) (quoting Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985)).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court will not “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, ” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, nor will it make determinations of credibility. N. Am. Precast, Inc. v. Gen. Cas. Co. of Wis., 2008 WL 906334, *3 (S.D. W.Va. Mar. 31, 2008) (Copenhaver, J.) (citing Sosebee v. Murphy,797 F.2d 179, 182 (4th Cir. 1986). If disputes over a material fact exist that “can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party, ” summary judgment is inappropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. If, however, the nonmoving party “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, ” then ...


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