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LARAMORE v. CITY OF CHICAGO

ERIC LARAMORE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARK FILIP, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Eric Laramore ("Plaintiff" or "Laramore"), who is African-American, is suing defendant City of Chicago ("Defendant" or "City"), alleging that the City discriminated against him on the basis of his race and retaliated against him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). Specifically, in his First Amended Complaint (D.E. 23), Laramore alleges that the City denied him training based on his race, disciplined him more severely than similarly situated employees, and terminated him on the basis of his race, all in violation of Title VII.*fn1 (D.E. 23 ¶ 9.) Plaintiff also alleges that the City retaliated against him for testifying in a sexual harassment hearing that took place sometime in 2000, with the retaliation taking the form of the City denying him training, disciplining him more severely than others, and discharging him. (Id. ¶ 13.) Before the Court is the City of Chicago's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the City's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

  I. Laramore's Summary Judgment Filings

  In light of Laramore's pro se status, the Court has generously construed his summary judgment filings. Laramore did not file a formal memorandum of law in opposition to the City's motion for summary judgment. Rather, he filed a motion titled "Pro Se Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment" (D.E. 63). The memorandum in support of this motion, in addition to requesting 14 million dollars in damages, also asserted that the "[C]ity should not be entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Supp. of Summ. J. (D.E. 63) at 2. After reviewing Laramore's filing, the Court issued a minute order notifying the parties that it would "be viewed by th[e] [C]ourt as [Laramore's] response" to the Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (D.E. 66.) Laramore also filed a "Local Rule 56.1(A) Statement of Undisputed Material Facts" (D.E. 64), which could be — given generous construction — construed as an attempt at a mixed Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) statement of additional facts and a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) response to the City's Local Rule 56.1(a) statement.

  A. Laramore Has Not Complied with Local Rule 56.1

  Laramore's 56.1 statement (cited herein as "Pl.'s Resp."), however, whether viewed as a response or statement of additional facts, does not contain citations to any affidavits, the record, or any other supporting material as required by Local Rules 56.1(b)(3)(A) and 56.1(b)(3)(B).*fn2 And to the extent it could be construed as a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(A) response, the Court notes that it is substantially incomplete. It directly responds only to two (out of 39) of the City's statements of fact, and both of Laramore's responses appear to be admissions — he apparently admits, as discussed below, that he had an excessive absenteeism record and left work early on many occasions and that he was tardy more than 70 times from January 2000 through May 2001. (D.E. 64 ¶¶ 15, 16.)

  The City pointed out these deficiencies in its Reply Memorandum of Law in Further Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment (D.E. 67), and in response, Laramore filed a "Local Rule 56(d) Statement of Case Not Fully Adjudicated."*fn3 (D.E. 71.) In that filing, Laramore acknowledged the City's 56.1 arguments and requested that the Court allow him an opportunity "to repair and or amend his Motion for Summary Judgment." (Id. ¶ 9.) The Court construed this request broadly in Plaintiff's favor and granted Laramore an opportunity to amend both his 56.1 filings and also his summary judgment response. (See D.E. 69.) As of the date of this opinion — which is approximately three months after the date of Laramore's request to amend — Laramore has not amended his Local Rule 56.1 statement or his summary judgment response, notwithstanding that he was directed to file amended papers by June 22, 2004. (Id.) B. Laramore Had Notice of and an Opportunity to Correct His Defective Summary Judgment Filings

  Laramore had notice of the defects in his summary judgment filings, as well as ample opportunity to remedy them. First, the City represented to the Court that it "complied with its obligation to provide [Laramore] with the required notice to a pro se litigant opposing a motion for summary judgment," (D.E. 67 at 2 n. 1), and the City included in its summary judgment papers a copy of a letter to Plaintiff concerning his Rule 56.1 and summary judgment responsibilities. (Id., Ex. 1.) Second, Laramore had the full benefit of the arguments directed at his deficient filings in the City's Reply brief, which argued at length that his Local Rule 56.1 filing and summary judgment response were inadequate, and it was the City's Reply that prompted Laramore to request an opportunity to amend his summary judgment filings. (See D.E. 71 ¶ 9 ("It has been stated in Defendant's Reply that . . . Plaintiff, [sic] has not . . . met the requirements of Local Rule [56.1]. . . .").) Third, on July 6, 2004 (or some two months ago), the City filed a Reply in Further Support of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (D.E. 72). In that motion, the City detailed the events surrounding the Court's grant of additional time for Laramore to amend his summary judgment filings, noted that Laramore had "not filed an amended response," and noted that the City considered the case fully briefed. (Id. ¶ 5.) Laramore did not respond to this filing or seek any further extension of time.

  C. The Court Deems Admitted Properly Supported Factual Assertions in the City's Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement

  While this Court is generally solicitous of pro se plaintiffs confronting the procedural requirements of responding to summary judgment motions, precedent teaches that Laramore's pro se status does not absolve him from meaningfully complying with Local Rule 56.1 See, e.g., Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001); Stevens v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 244 F. Supp.2d 906, 910 (N.D. Ill. 2002) (St. Eve, J.) (collecting cases); accord Members v. Paige, 140 F.3d 699, 702 (7th Cir. 1998) (stating that procedural rules "apply to uncounseled litigants and must be enforced"). The Seventh Circuit has "consistently and repeatedly upheld" district courts' discretion to require compliance with the local rules governing summary judgment. Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000); accord, e.g., Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994) (collecting numerous cases). In light of the notice and opportunity to amend afforded Laramore, the Court exercises that discretion here. The City of Chicago's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements are deemed admitted to the extent that they are properly supported by affidavits, record evidence, or other supporting material. See Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) ("All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party."); see also, e.g., O'Donnell v. City of Chicago, No. 02-1847, 2003 WL 22339285, at *1 n. 1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 14, 2003) (Castillo, J.) (accepting as true all facts set forth in defendant's statement of material fact where pro se plaintiff failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)).*fn4

  II. Facts

  The following facts are taken from the City of Chicago's Local Rule 56.1(a) statement. The City employed Laramore from May 21, 1990, until his discharge on August 1, 2001.*fn5 (Def.'s St. ¶ 1.) At the time of his discharge, Laramore was working as a Service Writer for the City's Department of Fleet Management. (Id.) A Service Writer predominately uses the City's tracking system, the V Mart system, to track the maintenance of vehicles that are handled by the Department of Fleet Management, including vehicles at municipal airports, the Chicago Park District, and the Chicago Fire Department. (Id. ¶ 12.) The V Mart system is a computer system with a database that provides information on what has been done on City equipment so as to maintain reports for accountability purposes. (Id. ¶ 13.) A Service Writer's duties include collecting information from drivers, logging in information into the database so that work orders can be issued to mechanics, handling road calls, and creating a "history" of problems with all City vehicles. (Id. ¶ 12.) Laramore's direct supervisors were Cleveland Thomas and Gregg Sponsky.*fn6 (Id. ¶ 26.)

  Laramore has a history of work-related disciplinary problems. In September 1999, the City suspended Laramore for three days for violating the City of Chicago Personnel Rules, based on his intimidation of a supervisor and his non-compliance with certain rules. (Id. ¶ 34.) This was not his first run-in with an authority figure at work: Laramore was also disciplined for insubordination in January 1997 and February 1997. (Id. ¶ 37.) He was also suspended for 10 days in 1999 for breaching security at O'Hare Airport. (Id. ¶ 35.) In addition, Adrienne Kane, Employee Relations Supervisor for the City of Chicago Department of Fleet Management, who was involved in Laramore's disciplinary process, met with Laramore and counseled him at least five times between 1996 and 2000 ...


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