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Prozer v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division

November 25, 2014

Michael Anthony Prozer, III, Plaintiff,
The United States of America, Defendant.


TIMOTHY M. CAIN, District Judge.

Michael Anthony Prozer, III, the plaintiff, brings this action against the United States of America pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq., The United States filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF 19), and Prozer responded to that motion (ECF No. 23). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c), D.S.C., this matter was referred to a magistrate judge for pretrial handling. This case is now before the court on the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation ("Report"), recommending the court to grant the motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 32). Prozer filed timely objections. (ECF No. 35). He also filed a notice of continued harassment after his objections, which the court has construed as an additional objection. (ECF No. 37).

The Report has no presumptive weight and the responsibility to make a final determination in this matter remains with this court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). In making that determination, the court is charged with conducting a de novo review of those portions of the Report to which either party specifically objects. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Then, the court may accept, reject, or modify the Report or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge. See id.

Summary judgment is appropriate if, after reviewing the entire record in a case, the court is satisfied that no genuine issues of material fact exist and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). An issue of fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Issues of fact are "material" only if establishment of such facts might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the governing substantive law. Id.

"The party moving for summary judgment has the [initial] burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Catawba Indian Tribe of S.C. v. South Carolina, 978 F.2d 1334, 1339 (4th Cir. 1992). Thereafter, the party opposing summary judgment must come forth with "sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute, " and cannot "rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id. at 247. Therefore, "[a]lthough the court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, the nonmoving party must rely on more than conclusory allegations, mere speculation, the building of one inference upon another, or the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence." Dash v. Mayweather, 731 F.3d 303, 311 (4th Cir. 2013). In sum, "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co, 475 U.S. at 587 ( Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. at 289)).

The FTCA waives sovereign immunity and imposes tort liability on the United States "in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances." 28 U.S.C. § 2674. Thus, the court must analyze Prozer's FTCA claims under South Carolina law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1). To prove negligence in South Carolina, a plaintiff must show: "(1) a duty of care owed by defendant to plaintiff; (2) breach of that duty by a negligent act or omission; and (3) damage proximately resulting from the breach of duty." Bloom v. Ravoira, 529 S.E.2d 710, 712 (S.C. 2000) (citation omitted).

Although Prozer's objections are lengthy and detailed, they mostly refer to alleged fraud or lies in the affidavits provided by the United States. (ECF No. 35, at 1-13, 16-17, 19); see Jones v. Hendricks, 173 F.App'x 180, 183 (3d Cir. 2006) (rejecting similar argument because the inmate "provided no support for his assertions that... the prison's documents were falsified"). The court will examine the two parts of the Report that Prozer specifically objected to: (1) medical negligence and (2) the invasion of privacy/defamation claims.

I. Medical Negligence

Prozer objects to the magistrate requiring him to provide an expert statement to institute his lawsuit. (ECF No. 35, at 14-15). The magistrate judge stated, in a footnote, that Prozer failed to file the expert witness affidavit. (ECF No. 32, at 32).

In a medical malpractice case, the Plaintiff must prove:

(a) What the recognized and generally accepted standards, practices and procedures are in the community which would be exercised by competent physicians in the same specialty under similar circumstances.
(b) The physician or physicians and/or hospital personnel in question negligently deviated from the generally accepted standards, practices, and procedures.
(c) Such negligent deviation from the generally accepted standards, practices, and procedures was a proximate ...

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