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Harper v. Redwood Toxicology

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 26, 2014


Charles A. Harper, plaintiff, Pro se, Durand, MI.

For Redwood Toxicology, defendant: Thomas W. Werner, Maddin Hauser Wartell Roth & Heller PC, Southfield, MI.

PHILLIP J. GREEN, United States Magistrate Judge. Hon. Robert Holmes Bell.


PHILLIP J. GREEN, United States Magistrate Judge.

This is a diversity action brought by a federal prisoner against a laboratory, alleging negligence. Plaintiff's pro se complaint, as amended, claims that defendant Redwood Toxicology (" Redwood") mishandled a urine sample plaintiff submitted during his participation in a residential re-entry program. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that Redwood tested his urine sample, despite the fact that the seal had previously been broken, and that Redwood failed to note the broken seal in its report, ultimately resulting in plaintiff being sent back to prison. Redwood has filed an answer denying the material allegations of the complaint.

Pending before the Court is Redwood's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 92), which was referred to the undersigned by the Honorable Robert Holmes Bell for report and recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Plaintiff has filed his response (Dkt. 95), and Redwood has filed a reply (Dkt. 96). Having considered the parties' written submissions, and for the reasons set forth herein, I recommend that defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted.

Applicable Standards

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Sadie v. City of Cleveland, 718 F.3d 596, 599 (6th Cir. 2013). The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is " whether 'the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Pittman v. Cuyahoga County Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 640 F.3d 716, 723 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). The court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Adams v. Hanson, 656 F.3d 397, 401 (6th Cir. 2011).

A party asserting that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed must support the assertion as specified in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(1). Once the movant shows that " there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, " the respondent assumes the burden of coming forward with evidence raising a triable issue of fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). To sustain this burden, the respondent may not rest on the mere allegations of his pleadings, but rather, must present " specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." El-Seblani v. IndyMac Mortg. Servs., 510 Fed.Appx. 425, 427 (6th Cir. 2013). " In other words, the movant [can] challenge the opposing party to 'put up or shut up' on a critical issue. After being afforded sufficient time for discovery . . . if the respondent [does] not 'put up, ' summary judgment is proper." Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1478 (6th Cir. 1989). " A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient; 'there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the [respondent].'" Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252); see Davis v. Cintas Corp., 717 F.3d 476, 491 (6th Cir. 2013).

Upon the respondent's failure " to properly support an assertion of fact, " or " to properly address another party's assertion of fact, " the court may consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion. Fed. R.Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The court may also grant summary judgment " if the motion and supporting materials -- including the facts considered undisputed -- show that the movant is entitled to it." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3).

Proposed Findings of Fact

The following facts are beyond genuine dispute. Plaintiff Charles A. Harper is a federal prisoner. On February 5, 2013, he entered a Residential Re-entry Center (Community Alternatives Program) and was scheduled to be released December 7, 2013 (Bureau of Prisons Memo of June 10, 2013, Attach. No. 1 to Pltf's Opp., Page ID# 767).[1] Plaintiff was required to participate in Community Transitional Drug Abuse Treatment prior to his release, during which he was subject to random urine tests to check for illicit substances such as marijuana. (Id.)

Cherry Street Health Services (" Cherry Street") administered the drug-testing program in which plaintiff's urine samples were collected. Cherry Street contracted with Redwood to conduct urinalysis on all samples it collected, including plaintiff's. (Def's. Mot. Exh. 2, Page ID# 709.)[2] Among the tests Redwood performs is radioimmunoassay (" RIA") to determine the presence of THC, a metabolite of the active ingredient in marijuana. (Id.) When Redwood receives a urine sample from Cherry Street, a lab employee removes the sample cup from the packaging, checks to ensure the security seal is intact, and confirms that the label on the sample ...

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