United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division
VICTOR E. CLARK, JR. PLAINTIFF
SONG HEALTH & REHAB OF COLUMBIA, LLC, COVENANT DOVE, LLC, and COVENANT DOVE HOLDING COMPANY, LLC DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment  filed by Defendants Song Health & Rehab of
Columbia, LLC, Covenant Dove, LLC, and Covenant Dove Holding
Company, LLC. After reviewing the submissions of the parties,
the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that this
motion is well taken and should be granted.
January 2, 2015, Plaintiff Victor Clark
(“Plaintiff”), a resident of Song Health &
Rehab of Columbia (“Song Health”), fell in his
room while trying to walk to the bathroom by himself.
Defendants Song Health & Rehab of Columbia, LLC, Covenant
Dove, LLC, and Covenant Dove Holding Company, LLC
(“Defendants”) owned, operated and/or controlled
Song Health. (See Amended Complaint  at p. 3.)
Defendants' facility engages in the custodial care of
elderly, helpless individuals who are in need of nursing
care. (See Amended Complaint  at p. 2.)
Plaintiff was alone when the injury occurred and fractured
his hip when he fell. (See Nurse's Note [73-1]
at p. 1.) Plaintiff stated that he was trying to walk to the
bathroom when he fell and that he always walked by himself.
(See Incident Witness Account [73-2] at p. 1.)
Plaintiff “had alert able [sic] to make needs known,
” but there is no evidence that Plaintiff attempted to
call for assistance before attempting to walk to the
bathroom. (See Nurse's Note [73-1] at p. 1.)
There has been no testimony provided as to the cause of the
fall. Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint  on January
26, 2017, claiming negligence against Defendants in Count I.
filed their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on
Plaintiff's Corporate Negligence Claims  on June 19,
2017. The Court gave Plaintiff until July 3, 2017, to respond
to the motion. Plaintiff has not filed a response.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides 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). “Where the burden of production at
trial ultimately rests on the nonmovant, the movant must
merely demonstrate an absence of evidentiary support in the
record for the nonmovant's case.” Cuadra v.
Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 812 (5th Cir.
2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The
nonmovant must then “come forward with specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Id. “An issue is material if its resolution
could affect the outcome of the action.” Sierra
Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d
134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Daniels v. City of
Arlington, Tex., 246 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2001)).
“An issue is ‘genuine' if the evidence is
sufficient for a reasonable [fact-finder] to return a verdict
for the nonmoving party.” Cuadra, 626 F.3d at
812 (citation omitted).
Court is not permitted to make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence. Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d
156, 164 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Turner v. Baylor
Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir.
2007)). When deciding whether a genuine fact issue exists,
“the court must view the facts and the inferences to be
drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party.” Sierra Club, 627 F.3d at 138. However,
“[c]onclusional allegations and denials, speculation,
improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and
legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for
specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.”
Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 744 (5th Cir. 2002)
(citation omitted). Summary judgment is mandatory
“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.” Brown v. Offshore
Specialty Fabricators, Inc., 663 F.3d 759, 766 (5th Cir.
2011) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)).
Corporate Negligence Claim
complaint, Plaintiff asserts a claim for negligence under
multiple theories including corporate negligence. Plaintiff
claims Defendants were negligent in failing to provide the
minimum number of staff to assist residents, failing to
properly monitor the staff, failing to properly train the
staff, and failing to maintain sufficient records on
residents. (See Amended Complaint  at p. 5-7.)
Defendants argue that Plaintiff lacks the necessary evidence
to establish the standard of care owed to him by the
Defendants, a necessary element of a corporate negligence
law provides “[p]laintiffs must, in order to recover on
a negligence claim, demonstrate that the defendant breached a
particular duty owed to the plaintiff, and that the breach of
duty proximately caused damages.” Mitchell v.
Ridgewood E. Apartments, LLC, 205 So.3d 1069, 1074
(Miss. 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). To succeed
on a corporate negligence claim, Plaintiff must produce
“evidence in the record regarding the Defendants'
duty and the standard of care as to hiring, supervision of
staff, training of staff, and documentation
procedures.” Estate of Guillotte ex rel. Jordan v.
Delta Health Group, Inc., 5 So.3d 393, 410 (Miss. 2009).
When a plaintiff fails to provide sufficient evidence on the
standard of care and duty, the defendant is entitled to
summary judgement against a plaintiff's claim for
corporate negligence. Id. at 411.
the fall on January 2, 2015, Plaintiff's failure to
present factual evidence in support of his corporate
negligence claim dictates that there is no genuine issue for
trial. Plaintiff has failed to “come forward with
specific facts showing” Defendants' duty and
standard of care as to the minimum number of staff,
monitoring their staff, training their staff, or maintaining
sufficient records. Cuadra, 626 F.3d at 812 (5th
Cir. 2010). Plaintiff has also failed to establish that
Defendants have breached the applicable standard of care.
Defendants have demonstrated the absence of evidentiary
support in the record to Plaintiff's claim of corporate
negligence regarding the fall which occurred on January 2,
2015, and Plaintiff has failed to come forward with specific
facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Therefore,
Defendants are entitled to partial summary judgment on
Plaintiff's claims of corporate negligence regarding the
January 2, 2015, fall.