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Gray v. United States

April 15, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge


This matter comes before the Court on Defendant United States of America's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 55) and Memorandum in Support (Doc. 56). Plaintiff Amber Gray filed a Response (Doc. 65) to the motion and memorandum. For the following reasons, the Court grants the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 55).


I. Standard for Summary Judgment

The "primary purpose of summary judgment is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims."Oest v. Ill. Dep't of Corrections, 240 F.3d 605, 610 (7th Cir. 2001). Specifically, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that summary judgment be granted "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56( c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

A fact is material only if it can affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law.

Oest, 240 F.3d at 610 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 424, 248 (1986)). A factual dispute is genuine only if a reasonable jury would, based on the evidence, return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. When determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the Court will construe the facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Lloyd v. Swifty Transp., Inc., 552 F.3d 594, 600 (7th Cir. 2009).

The burden of proof is first placed on the moving party to point to the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S.144, 159 (1970)). For instance, if the moving party can show that the non-moving party cannot prove an essential element of the case, there can be no genuine issue of material fact because all other facts are then rendered immaterial. Id. at 322-323. Once the moving party has met this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. To prevail, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Id.

II. Facts

Gray was pregnant, and Dr. Saji Jacob was her doctor. (Doc. 56-4, ¶ 2). During Gray's second trimester, Dr. Jacob ordered an ultrasound. Id.A sonographer performed Gray's ultrasound and filled out an ultrasound OB worksheet, which is a form used to indicate the position and status of the fetus during the ultrasound. (Doc. 56-4, ¶ 3). The sonographer's worksheet indicated that all the fetus' extremities were seen during the ultrasound, and that the fetus was normal. (Doc. 56-4, p. 3). Radiologist Dr. Samuel Essma reviewed the sonographer's work, and drafted his own report. Id. Dr. Essma's report concluded that "partially visualized extremities were normal" and that the ultrasound showed a "normal 22 week 3 day old fetus". (Doc. 56-4, ¶ 5).

Dr. Jacob received the worksheet and report on the same day that the ultrasound was performed, and reviewed them to make his own determination. (Doc. 56-4, ¶ 4). Dr. Jacob checked the language on the sonographer's worksheet, which he knew indicated a normal ultrasound, against the language in Dr. Essma's report, which he also knew indicated a normal ultrasound, and determined that the ultrasound was in fact normal. (Doc. 56-4, ¶ 6). He did not believe that there were any problems with the development of the extremities or that Gray needed another ultrasound. (Doc. 56-4, ¶ 7).

Upon delivery, it was discovered that Gray's child suffered from amniotic band syndrome, which is a condition that can be diagnosed during an ultrasound. (Doc. 2, p. 3, ¶ 7). Because the doctors failed to diagnose her child, Gray was not given the opportunity to terminate her pregnancy, and she has and will continue to incur great expenses in order to treat and manage her child's disorder. Id.

III. Relevant Procedural Posture

On February 21, 2008, Gray filed a Complaint (Doc. 2) in federal court for medical negligence. Specifically, Gray alleges that Dr. Jacob negligently based a finding of a normal ultrasound on the incomplete information that the extremities were only partially visible, that he failed to order subsequent ultrasounds and that he failed to timely diagnose her unborn child's amniotic band syndrome. (Doc. 2, p. 3, ¶ 6(a)-(c)). Dr. Jacob's acts are attributed to the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1), and the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. ...

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