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Archambault v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Northern Division

January 5, 2015

PAUL ARCHAMBAULT, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of HARRIET ARCHAMBAULT, Plaintiff,
v.
United States of America, Defendants

Page 962

For Paul Archambault, individually, and as Administrator of the Estate Of Harriet Archambault, Plaintiff: Robin L. Zephier, LEAD ATTORNEY, Abourezk Law Firm, Rapid City, SD.

For United States of America, Defendant: Robert Gusinsky, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office (Rapid City, SD), Rapid City, SD.

Page 963

ORDER

CHARLES B. KORNMANN, United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Paul Archambault filed his complaint on August 23, 2012 against the defendant, the United States of America, alleging that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Indian Health Services (IHS) were negligent by failing to reasonably screen, hire, investigate, train and/or supervise medical employees, and as a result of such negligence the plaintiffs wife, Harriet Archambault, died from medical malpractice. Plaintiff brought suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § § 2671-2680, and jurisdiction was vested pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b).

Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that this Court is without subject matter jurisdiction based upon a failure of the plaintiff to provide proof of his appointment as the executor of Harriet Archambault's estate to HHS during the administrative claims process. Additionally, the defendant claims that the discretionary function exception of the Federal Tort Claims Act bars recovery and that the care Harriet received was reasonable.

FACTS

The summary judgment standard is well known and has been set forth by this Court in numerous opinions. See Hanson v. North Star Mutual Insurance Co., 1999 DSD 34, 71 F.Supp.2d 1007, 1009-1010 (D.S.D. 1999), Gardner v. Tripp County, 1998 DSD 38, 66 F.Supp.2d 1094, 1098 (D.S.D. 1998), Patterson Farm, Inc. v. City of Britton, 1998 DSD 34, 22 F.Supp.2d 1085,1088-89 (D.S.D. 1998), Smith v. Horton Industries, 1998 DSD 26, 17 F.Supp.2d 1094, 1095 (D.S.D. 1998). Summary Judgment is proper where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Donaho v. FMC Corp., 74 F.3d 894, 898 (8th Cir. 1996). The United States Supreme Court has held that:

The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment. . . against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be " no genuine issue as to any material fact," since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). " A material fact dispute is genuine if the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party." Landon v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 72 F.3d 620, 624 (8th Cir. 1995). In considering the motion for summary judgment, this Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and give plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the facts. Donaho, 74 F.3d at 897-898. The following is based upon the record.

Paul and Harriet Archambault lived in Bullhead, South Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. Harriet died on November 27,2007, at the age of fortyone. Prior to her death, Harriet received the majority of her medical care from the McLaughlin Indian Health Services Health Center, which is operated ...


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