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Wilder v. Krebs

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

April 25, 2019

Samuel Wilder, #258295, Plaintiff
v.
William F. Krebs, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Defendant William F. Krebs' (“Defendant”) renewed motion for summary judgment on the sole issue of whether res judicata and collateral estoppel bar Plaintiff's claim. ECF No. 93.[1] Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 94), and Defendant filed a reply (ECF No. 95).

         Previously, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on the merits, arguing he was not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs. ECF No. 42. After full briefing, the Magistrate Judge recommended denial of summary judgment. ECF No. 52. Defendant objected (ECF No. 55), Plaintiff replied (ECF No. 60), and the court adopted the Report and denied summary judgment (ECF No. 62). Thereafter, at a pretrial conference, Defendant requested leave to amend his Answer and to file an additional motion for summary judgment based on res judicata and collateral estoppel. ECF No. 70. The court allowed Defendant to file a motion for leave to amend the Answer, which he did. ECF No. 73. Although Plaintiff opposed, the court determined the res judicata issue was one that required resolution prior to trial as a matter of law, and allowed the Amended Answer and renewed motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 88. Defendant filed his Amended Answer (ECF No. 91) and the instant motion.

         1. Standard

         Summary judgment should be granted 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). It is well established that summary judgment should be granted “only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts.” Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Properties, 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). The party moving for summary judgment has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, and the court must view the evidence before it and the inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962).

         Rule 56(c)(1) provides as follows:

(1) A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers or other materials; or
(b) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).

         2. Discussion

         The sole issue before the court is whether res judicata and collateral estoppel bar Plaintiff's claims as a matter of law. Defendant notes Plaintiff filed a prior case in South Carolina Circuit Court, bringing claims against the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) arising out of the same instances of alleged dental mistreatment as the instant case. ECF No. 93-1, 93-2 (State Court Complaint). The Circuit Judge determined Plaintiff failed to show SCDC was grossly negligent, and therefore granted summary judgment to SCDC. ECF No. 93-4.[2] As this was a determination on the merits, Defendant argues res judicata and collateral estoppel apply to bar Plaintiff's instant lawsuit.

         Plaintiff contends he only argued gross negligence and did not name Dr. Krebs as a defendant in his state court action, and therefore res judicata and collateral estoppel do not apply. ECF No. 94 at 5. He also argues the final judgment of the prior action was not on the merits, but the case was dismissed because Plaintiff did not submit an expert affidavit. Id. at 6. He contends the issue in the current lawsuit, deliberate indifference, was not previously litigated because the South Carolina Tort Claims Act “had no jurisdiction to here [sic] this present claim.” Id. at 7.

         In reply, Defendant asserts summary judgment in the prior action was granted on the merits, and Plaintiff had a “full and fair opportunity to litigate” his case in state court. ECF No. 95 at 1-2. He argues the difference in defendants (SCDC and Dr. Krebs) does not preclude collateral estoppel because Dr. Krebs was adequately identified in the prior action. Id. at 2. Finally, he contends ...


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