It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this medical malpractice case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, U.C. Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Sutter, or any skilled nursing facility.
(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death case and its proceedings.)
GENERAL LAW OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The court’s sole function on a Motion for Summary Judgment is issue finding … not issue determination. The law and motion judge must simply determine from the evidence submitted whether there is a “triable issue as to any material fact.” Code of Civil Procedure §437(c)(d); Weil and Brown, Civil Procedure Before Trial (1992), pages 60-65.
The function of a trial Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment is merely to determine whether such issues of fact exist, and not to decide the merits of the issues themselves. Molko v. Holy Spirit Association (1988), 46 Cal. 3d 1092; 252 Cal. Rptr. 122.
If there is a single issue of fact in conflict, the motion must be denied (emphasis added). Versa Technologies. Inc. v. Superior Court (1978), 78 Cal. App. 3d 237; 142 Cal. Rptr. 570. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
A material fact is a fact which must relate to some claim or defense in issue under the pleadings. Also, it must be essential to the judgment, or if proved, would change the outcome of the case. Pettus v. Standard Cabinet Works (1967), 249 Cal. App. 2d 64; 57 Cal. Rptr. 207.
Matters going to the weight of evidence must be disregarded in ruling on a motion. Declarations cannot be weighed . Mann v. Cracchiolo (1985), 38 Cal. 3d 18; 210 Cal. Rptr. 762.
Because Summary Judgment is a drastic measure that deprives the losing party of trial on the merits, it may not be invoked unless it is clear from the declarations that there are no triable issues of material fact. (Bunzel v. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (1980) 107 Cal.App.3d 165, 169.) Any doubts about the propriety of granting a Summary Judgment motion must be resolved in favor of the party opposing the motion. (Kolodge v. Boyd (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 349, 355.) Courts must abide by the strong public policy favoring disposition on the merits over judicial efficiency. (Bahl v. Bank of America (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 389, 398.) The purpose of Summary Judgment is to provide a means to determine whether issues which appear to be raised by the pleadings are real, or merely the product of adept pleading. (College Hospital, Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704, 720, fn. 7.) The Summary Judgment provisions were never intended to deprive a party of a right to a trial. (Richter v. United Calif. Theatres, Inc. (1960) 177 Cal.App.2d 126, 131.) (See Part 5 of 13.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.