Sacramento Hospital Sued For Wrongful Death, Part 5 of 10

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death/elder abuse case and its proceedings.)

Applicable Standards for Granting Summary Adjudication

The complaint frames the issues to be determined on summary judgment. (Varni Bros. Corp. v. Wine World, Inc. ( 995) 35 Cal. App. 4th 880, 887, ) When no triable issue of material fact exists, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c, subd. (f)(2).) Hence, a motion for summary adjudication should be granted in a personal injury case such as this if all the papers submitted show there is no triable issue as to any material fact with respect to the elements of the causes of action sought to be adjudicated. (Id., at subd. (f).) Summary adjudication must be granted if it disposes of a cause of action. (Ibid.)

A cause of action has no merit, and is therefore subject to summary adjudication, where “one or more of the elements of the cause of action cannot he separately established, even if that element is separately pleaded.” (Id., § 437c, subd. (n)(1).) Accordingly, summary adjudication is appropriate if any element of the challenged cause of action cannot be established.

California law also recognizes the appropriateness of summary adjudication … even if there are disputed factual issues, when the defendant’s showing negates an essential element of the plaintiff’s case. In this regard, “no amount of factual conflict upon other aspects of the case will preclude summary judgment.” (Shivley v. Dye Creek Cattle Co. (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 1620, 1627.) The court is required to consider all the evidence set forth in the papers, except that to which objections have been made and sustained by the court, and all inferences reasonably deducible from the evidence. (Code Civ. Proc. § 437c, subd. (c).)

As the moving party, defendants bear the burden of persuasion that there is no triable issue of material fact in order to prevail on summary adjudication. However, defendants are not required to conclusively negate an element of a plaintiffs’ cause of action. Rather, defendants must show:

That one or more elements of the cause of action … cannot be established by the plaintiff. [Citation.] In other words, all that the defendant need do is to show that the plaintiff cannot establish at least one element of the cause of action …. Although he remains free to do so, the defendant need not himself conclusively negate any such element — for example, himself prove not X. This is in line with the purpose of the 1991 and 1993 amendments, which was to liberalize the granting of motions for summary judgment. (Aguilar v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 826, 853-854, fn omitted.)

The TMC defendants need only show that one essential clement of plaintiffs’ wrongful death cause of action cannot be established to prevail on summary adjudication as to that cause of action. As shown by this motion, the undisputed material facts show that there was nothing improper about the treatment rendered to plaintiffs’ decedent in the emergency room at The Medical Center. (See Part 6 of 10.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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