force, but Plaintiffs allege that the terminations were in retaliation for participating in the EEOC investigation.
The Hospitals have filed four motions for summary judgment, one motion per Plaintiff. Each motion contains a detailed statement of undisputed facts with supporting materials and a memorandum which addresses the legal issues as to each individual. The court will consider all four motions for summary judgment in this opinion.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that a summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Salima v. Scherwood South, Inc., 38 F.3d 929, 931 (7th Cir. 1994); Transportation Communications Int'l Union v. CSX Transp., Inc., 30 F.3d 903, 904 (7th Cir. 1994). A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id.; Russell v. Acme-Evans Co., 51 F.3d 64, 67 (7th Cir. 1995). Furthermore, a summary judgment is not a discretionary remedy and must be granted when the movant is entitled to it as a matter of law. Jones v. Johnson, 26 F.3d 727, 728 (7th Cir. 1994).
When the courts of this district rule on motions for summary judgment, in addition to Rule 56(c), the courts very seriously consider the Rules of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ("Local Rules"). Plaintiffs' responses are a prime demonstration of the benefit that can be derived from the Local Rules. The focus here is on Local Rules 12(M) and 12(N) pertaining to summary judgment motions.
These Local Rules may be thought of as forming a sieve through which the factual assertions and supporting evidence are poured; the residue of the sifting process comprises the genuine issues of material fact that go to the merits of the motion. Employed here, Plaintiffs' offerings pour "Like water through a sieve,"
leaving no residue. Put in more concrete terms, Plaintiffs' 12(N) Statement does not correctly oppose the Hospital's 12(M) Statement. In the few instances Plaintiffs disagreed with the Hospitals factual assertions, Plaintiffs did not cite to any support in the record. Because all four of the Plaintiffs' 12(N) Statements share this deficiency, the lack of citation to record support is fatal to the entire case. Valenti v. Qualex, Inc., 970 F.2d 363, 369 (7th Cir. 1992) (holding that a flat denial to a statement of fact under Local Rule 12 without reference to supporting materials has no standing under the Local Rule).
Local Rules 12(M) and 12(N) provide that unsupported and irrelevant material will not be weighed when considering the possibility of summary judgment. The court will accept only those factual statements that are well pled and are in compliance with Local Rules 12(M)(3), 12(N)(3)(a), and 12(N)(3)(b). Any statements not in compliance are not considered. Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, slip op. at 6 (7th Cir. 1994) ("district courts are not obliged . . . to scour the record looking for factual disputes"). Those facts which the litigants properly assert in the 12(M)(3) and 12(N)(3)(b) Statements are deemed admitted, unless the responding party contradicts them in the manner specified under Local Rules 12(M) and 12(N)(3)(a). Knox v. McGinnis, 998 F.2d 1405, 1408 n.8 (7th Cir. 1993); see also Early v. Bankers Life & Casualty Co., 853 F. Supp. 1074, 1079 (N.D. Ill. 1994) (holding that failure to comply with Local Rule 12(n) results in the admission of material facts). In addition, a mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material. Edward E. Gillen Co. v. City of Lake Forest, 3 F.3d 192, 196 (7th Cir. 1993). The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly upheld the strict application of Local Rule 12(N). LaSalle Bank Lake View v. Seguban, 54 F.3d 387, 389 (7th Cir. 1995); Stewart v. McGinnis, 5 F.3d 1031, 1034 (7th Cir. 1993) (collecting cases in accord).
The Hospitals appropriately provide a statement of undisputed facts consisting of short numbered paragraphs, supported with specific references to deposition testimony, an affidavit, and parts of the record. See Local Rule 12(M). In contrast, Plaintiffs' Local Rule 12(N) Statements fail to, "in the case of disagreement, [cite to] specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon . . . ." Local Rule 12(N)(3)(a). Parks' 12(N) Statement attempts to disagree with only two out of ninety-one supported paragraphs. Both attempts omit citation to any authority whatsoever. Arrington's 12(N) Statement disagrees with two of the Hospitals' nineteen 12(M) paragraphs. Both contradictions fail to cite to any supporting material. Moreover, one of his disagreements flies in the face of transcribed deposition testimony. Arrington's response to the Hospital's paragraph fifteen reads, "Disagree, Panella testified past performance was not a criteria [sic]." Yet, as cited by the Hospitals, in the deposition of James Panella, the assistant manager, Panella answered that past performance was considered:
Q. Based on what you told me about the difference between this evaluation for the reduction in force and other evaluations, did you even review those other evaluations in order to come up with the numbers you gave for each employees for the RIF?