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Garriott v. Western Medical Associates, PLLC

United States District Court, D. Idaho

July 14, 2017

JUSTIN T. GARRIOTT and SUSAN GARRIOTT, husband and wife; JASPYN GARRIOTT, JUSTIN GARRIOTT JR., JMG1, a minor, and JMG2, a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
WESTERN MEDICAL ASSOCIATES, PLLC, an Idaho corporation; PAUL PASCHALL, MD; ERIC CHUN, MD, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER (Dkt. 85)

          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Defendants' first partial motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 85), filed on March 31, 2017. The parties have filed their responsive briefing and the matter is ripe for the Court's consideration. This matter involves a medical malpractice claim brought against two emergency room physicians. His four children each bring a claim for loss of consortium based upon the injury to their father, Justin Garriott Sr.

         The Court conducted a hearing regarding the motion on July 11, 2017, at which the parties appeared and presented their arguments. After carefully considering the parties' written memoranda, relevant case law, and the parties' arguments, the Court will grant Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment.

         FACTS

         According to the complaint, Plaintiffs Justin T. Garriott and Susan Garriott are husband and wife, and they have four children. They reside together in Spokane County, Washington.

         On March 25, 2015, Justin Garriott began feeling ill, and he visited an urgent care center. On March 27, 2015, Mr. Garriott presented to Kootenai Health hospital, located in Kootenai County, Idaho, complaining of headache, fever, neck stiffness, abdominal pain and constipation. On March 31, 2015, Mr. Garriott returned to Kootenai Health's emergency department, with complaints of aching mid-back pain, and other symptoms. He was later discharged. On the morning of April 2, 2015, Mr. Garriott was transported via ambulance to the Kootenai Health emergency department with gradual onset of leg weakness and numbness, difficulty urinating, and severe abdominal pain that radiated from his back. An MRI was ordered. On April 3, 2015, the MRI results were reported as revealing an epidural mass centered around T7 and T8 with cord compression. Surgery occurred later that same morning. Upon removal of the abscess, fluid from the abscess was cultured and laboratory results indicated MSSA or methicillin-sensitive S. aureus.

         Mr. Garriott remained at the hospital until his discharge on April 16, 2016. Mr. Garriott had suffered a T7 spinal cord injury with flaccid paralysis and sensory loss of his lower extremities, as well as neurologic bowel and bladder dysfunction.

         Plaintiffs' amended complaint alleges negligence against two of the emergency room physicians at Kootenai Health who treated Mr. Garriott. Mr. Garriott's children, as well as his wife, bring also a claim for loss of consortium based upon the injuries to Mr. Garriott. Other than the claim for loss of consortium, Mr. Garriott's children assert no other claim.

         The sole issue before the Court with this motion is whether Plaintiffs Jaspyn Garriott, Justin Garriott, Jr., JMG1 and JMG2 (the Children) may proceed with their claim for loss of consortium based upon the injury to their father. Defendants assert that, under Idaho law, a loss of consortium claim is available only to the spouse of the injured party, not the injured party's children. Plaintiffs disagree, arguing that the claim has not been foreclosed by recent Idaho case law.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Summary Judgment Standard

         Motions for summary judgment are governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 56 provides, in pertinent part, that judgment “shall be rendered forthwith 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 judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is “material” if it affects the outcome of the litigation and may be considered “genuine” if it is established by “sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute ... to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” Hahn v. Sargent, 523 F.3d 461, 464 (1st Cir. 1975) (quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co. Inc., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)); see also British Motor Car Distrib. v. San Francisco Auto. Indus. Welfare Fund, 883 F.2d 371 (9th Cir. 1989).

         The Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that summary judgment under Rule 56 is mandated if the non-moving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element which is essential to the non-moving party's case and upon which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). If the non-moving party fails to make such a showing on any essential element, “there can be no ‘genuine issue of material fact, ' since a complete[ ] ...


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