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ESPINOSA v. GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION MARCUS WARD

March 16, 2004.

MARY ESPINOSA, Plaintiff
v.
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION MARCUS WARD, and COURTNEY PARROT, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below we grant the motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

  Plaintiff Mary Espinosa ("Espinosa"), a Caucasian woman, was employed by Defendant General Motors Corporation ("GM") as a temporary worker at GM's Electro-Motive Division in LaGrange, Illinois from August 4, 1997 to May 2, 2003. In November of 2001 Espinosa was transferred to Department 2180 and was selected Page 2 to operate a stacker machine. Defendant Marcus Ward ("Marcus"), an African-American man, acted as Espinosa's supervisor from January of 2002 to May of 2002. In early January of 2002 Ward verbally counseled Espinosa for not meeting expected production rates and on January 15, 23, and 28 of 2002 Espinosa received written reprimands for failing to meet the expected production rate. Espinosa filed grievances regarding the written reprimands and, as part of a settlement with the union, the reprimands were stricken from her record and Espinosa was given two additional weeks of training on the stacker machine. On March 15, 2002 Espinosa called the GM toll-free number for reporting employee misconduct and complained that Ward routinely followed her to the bathroom, reprimanded her, and refused to give her overtime. On April 17, 2002 Espinosa took a personal day without giving the required two days notice and she received a written reprimand. On May 14, 2002 Espinosa claimed that she saw rats in her work area. She visited GM's medical department and although the department did not give her clearance to leave the plant, she left without permission and received a written reprimand. As part of a settlement with the union, the reprimand was stricken and she was given three hours pay. On May 13, 2002 Espinosa received a written reprimand for careless workmanship. In June of 2002 the lights in Espinosa's work area were turned off, but were turned back on when Espinosa complained. Espinosa operated the stacker Page 3 machine until July of 2002 when she was transferred to another department.

  Espinosa claims that she sprained her ankle in April of 2003 and was unable to work. On April 22, 2003 GM sent Espinosa a letter informing her that if she did not report to work within five days that she would lose her seniority in accordance with an agreement between GM and her union. Espinosa furnished a doctor's excuse that excused her absence until May 1, 2003, but when she failed to report to work on May 2, 2003, she was notified that her seniority was broken. Espinosa claims that her May 1, 2003 doctor's appointment was cancelled and that her doctor extended her authorized leave until May 5, 2003. She admits, however, that she did not give GM notice of the extension. GM terminated Espinosa's employment on May 5, 2003. Espinosa brought the instant action alleging that Defendants discriminated against her because of her gender and because of her race, and maintained a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Espinosa also brings an intentional infliction of emotional distress ("TIED") claim.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as Page 4 a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment the moving party must identify "those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v, Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations or the denials in the pleadings, but, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided for in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R. 4Civ. P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). The court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences that favor the non-moving parry. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Page 5 Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

  DISCUSSION

  I. Local Rule 56.1

  The courts are not "obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes and may adopt local rules reasonably designed to streamline the resolution of summary judgment motions." Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994). In the Northern District of Illinois, parties must comply with Local Rule 56.1. Compliance requires "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law." Local Rule 56.1(a)(3). The statement of material facts is comprised of "short numbered paragraphs, including within each paragraph specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph." Local Rule 56.1(a). The non-movant is correspondingly obligated to submit, "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, hi the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon. . . ." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A), The non-moving party is also required to file a material statement of Page 6 additional facts and the moving party is required to respond in a likewise fashion. Local Rule 56.1(a) & (b)(3)(B). The court will deem any fact admitted in the opponent's statement of facts unless the fact is properly denied by the opposing party. Local Rule 56.1(a) & (b)(3)(B).

  A denial is improper if the denial is not accompanied by specific references to admissible evidence or at least evidence that represents admissible evidence. Dent v. Bestfoods, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n. 1 (N.D. Ill. 2003); Malec v. Sanford 191 F.R.D. 581, 585 (N.D. Ill. 2000). Pursuant to Rule 56.1 any facts included in a party's statement of facts that are not properly denied by the opposing party are deemed to be admitted. Local Rule 56.1; Dent, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n.1. See also Jankovich v. Exelon Corp., 2003 WL 260714, at *5 (N.D. Ill. 2003)(indicating that evasive denials are improper and thus the contested fact is deemed to be admitted pursuant to Local Rule 56.1).

  In the instant case Espinosa submitted a response to Defendants' 56.1 statement of material facts. The majority of Defendants' facts are expressly admitted by Espinosa. However, we note that Espinosa's 56.1 response does not list any response for facts 2 through 5. Also, her 56.1 response contains two separate responses for fact number 89, first denying the fact and in the second response admitting the fact. Espinosa has also responded to 97 facts although Defendants' Page 7 statement of facts only contains 95 facts. It is apparent after comparing Espinosa's first denials that her denials do not match up with Defendants' statement of facts. We will not search through Espinosa's response to Defendants' statement of facts to determine if one of her responses properly denies a fact in Defendants' statement of I facts. Local Rule 56.1 was created to assist the court by relieving a court from the necessity of sifting through the record in search of genuinely disputed material facts and to prevent a plaintiff from progressing to trial by creating confusion regarding the pertinent facts and the evidence. Local Rule 56.1 requires a plaintiff to come forth with specific evidence to support any of its denials and thus show that any disputes are genuine.

  Defendants' pointed out all of the above mentioned inconsistencies in Espinosa's 56.1 response in their "Response to Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Material Facts and Plaintiff's Statement of Facts" which was filed several months ago and Espinosa has not sought in the interim to file an amended response to Defendants' 56.1 statement of facts. Therefore, we shall take Espinosa's 56.1 response as it was submitted and shall treat the ...


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