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JACKSON v. CARPENTERS LOCAL UNION #1

September 24, 2004.

GERALD JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CARPENTERS LOCAL UNION #1, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD GUZMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Following the denial of his request to be made a steward, Plaintiff Gerald Jackson sued Carpenters Local Union #1 ("Local 1") for discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section 1983"), retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., race discrimination in violation of Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 ("section 1981"), and disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Pending is defendant Local 1's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion.

FACTS

  The following facts are undisputed or have been deemed admitted pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, which this Court strictly enforces. Carpenters Local Union #1 ("Local 1") is a labor organization with a geographical jurisdiction that includes approximately the entire downtown Chicago Loop high-rise area. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 10.) Local 1 is a labor organization and not a state or local government agency. (Compl. ¶ 10; Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶ 19.) Jackson, an African American, has been a member of Local 1 off and on since 1978. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶¶ 1, 20.) Jackson was a member of Local 1 during 2001 and 2002. (Id. ¶ 6.)

  A union steward is responsible for acting as the representative of the union while a business representative of the union is not present on a particular job site. (Id. ¶ 21.) The steward is not an employee of the union but is an employee of a construction contractor that has a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the union. (Id. ¶ 22.) The responsibilities of a steward, aside from the working requirements of his employer, is to check on the dues and membership status of carpenters on the job site and to report matters of importance to the union concerning the processing of grievances of carpenter members. (Id. ¶ 23.)

  On July 25, 2002, Jackson, who was unemployed and not working at any Union job sites, met with two business representatives of Local 1, Robert Quanstrom and Ron Culbertson, to request that Local 1 place him as a steward on a job site in Local 1's jurisdiction. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 11.) Both Quanstrom and Culbertson refused and told Jackson that they would never make Jackson a steward. (Id. ¶ 12.) Both men cited Jackson's failure to pay union dues on a regular basis, which caused him to be dropped as a union member on at least four occasions, and Jackson's hostility toward Hispanics and Caucasians, whom they believed he refused to work with, as reasons why Local 1 could not afford to have Jackson as its representative. (Id. ¶ 18.) Jackson then threatened to file a discrimination charge at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") for retaliation because of a previous charge filed against Local 1. (Id. ¶ 13.) Quanstrom replied, "I do not care what you do, you can do whatever you want." (Id.) Jackson had recently performed the position of steward for a jobsite not affiliated with Local 1. (Id. ¶ 20.) Following this discussion, Jackson filed a charge with the EEOC on August 5, 2002. (Id. ¶ 14.) In the body of the charge, he stated: "I believe I have been retaliated against for filing previous EEOC charges of discrimination, because of my race, Black, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and because of my disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990." (Pl.'s Ex., EEOC Charge 210A204364 submitted to Court on Dec., 16, 2002.) Jackson received a notice of right to sue from the EEOC on September 27, 2002, and Jackson filed the instant complaint on December 18, 2002.

  DISCUSSION

  Summary judgment is proper "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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Accordingly "summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is `genuine,' that is, if 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).

  In analyzing Local 1's motion, this Court must view the facts in a light most favorable to Jackson while "drawing all reasonable inferences in [his] favor." Haywood v. Lucent Techs. Inc., 323 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2003). Nevertheless, Jackson "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e). If a plaintiff "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial," "Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Before analyzing the parties' arguments, the Court notes the role and effect of Local Rule 56.1 in summary judgment proceedings. While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 governs the parties' summary judgment obligations, Local Rule 56.1 reflects "an attempt to make the parties' respective summary judgment obligations explicit." See Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921 (7th Cir. 1994) (discussing similar local rule). With respect to parties opposing summary judgment, such as Jackson, their obligations are set forth in Local Rule 56.1(b).

  Local Rule 56.1(b) requires each party opposing a summary judgment motion to serve and file a memorandum of law, any materials or affidavits referred to in Rule 56(e), as well as a concise response to the movant's statement of facts. See LR 56.1(b). This response should contain "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon" and "a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." LR 56.1(b)(3)(A)-(B). Failure to meet the requirements regarding the response to a moving party's statement of facts results in the moving party's version of the facts being deemed admitted. LR 56.1(b)(3)(B); see also McGuire v. United Postal Serv., 152 F.3d 673, 675 (7th Cir. 1998) (noting that "[a]n answer that does not deny the allegations in the numbered paragraph with citations to supporting evidence in the record constitutes an admission").

  Strict enforcement of Local Rule 56.1's requirements has been repeatedly upheld by the Seventh Circuit as "district courts are not obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes." Waldridge, 24 F.3d at 922. This is so even in situations where the non-moving party may be able to create genuine issues of material fact. See Bell, Boyd & Lloyd v. Tapy, 896 F.2d 1101, 1102-03 (7th Cir. 1990) (discussing Local Rule 56.1's predecessor, Local Rule 12(m)).

  Although Jackson is pro se, the Supreme Court has held that pro se litigants must follow rules of procedure and that mistakes of civil procedure do not excuse those who proceed without counsel. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993). It is true that a motion for summary judgment should not be granted unless a pro se litigant has received clear notice as to what needs to be filed and the consequences of a failure to follow the local rules. Puccini v. United Air Lines, Inc., No. 98 C 8140, 2000 WL 1720989, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 16, 2000). Here, Jackson received in open court the Local Rule 56.2 "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" on October 29, 2003, and thus, Jackson had proper notice of the Northern District of Illinois local rule regarding summary judgment. Although pro se litigants are granted more leniency than a party who is represented by council, the pro se litigant is still required to follow the rules of procedure. McNeil, 508 U.S. at 113.

  With these principles in mind, the Court notes that Jackson has failed to comply with his obligations under Local Rule 56.1(b). Of the forty-nine statements of fact submitted by Local 1 pursuant to their obligations under Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), Jackson did not respond to or deny any one of the forty-nine statements. Furthermore, Jackson's declarations to the Court do not conform to the clear mandate contained within the Local Rule that requires an opposing party to provide the Court with "specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." LR 56.1(b)(3)(A) (emphasis added). Instead, Jackson provided the Court with: declarations regarding why he decided to file this case, his history as a carpenter with Local 1, and his alleged use of "racial terms," in which he accuses the defense's witnesses of fabricating their statements because "there was no individualism" to the statements and because Jackson has worked and lived in racially diverse communities and served in the military; a letter from Almarita Husband attesting that her daughter's prescription was not covered by "Health & Welfare Insurance;" Jackson's 2000 and 2002 EEOC charges; a $100 receipt from Evans & Evans Counseling/Consulting Services; Jackson's test results from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago certifying that he passed the examination for carpenter; Jackson's official steward's book; two postal receipts; and the March 2003 issue of The Carpenter's Forum, which was mailed to Jackson. That Jackson has not met his obligations under Rule 56.1 is not lost on Local 1, which argues that its "entire Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Undisputed Material Facts is deemed admitted because of Plaintiff's failure to deny or even respond to the short numbered paragraphs of undisputed material facts." (Def.'s Reply Br. at 2.)

  Jackson's failure to respond and provide any citation to the record violates the letter of the local rule, and accordingly, fact statements one through forty-nine are deemed admitted. Nevertheless, Jackson's failure to comply with the requirements of Local Rule 56.1 does not mean that summary judgment will automatically be granted in favor of Local 1, as the Court must still "evaluate all facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the non-moving party." See Austin-Edwards v. Loyola Univ. Med. Ctr., No. 03 C 1915, 2004 WL 1243940, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June 3, 2004).

  Pursuant to his form Complaint of Employment Discrimination, Jackson seeks to hold Local 1 liable under Section 1983, Section 1981, Title VII, and the ADA. The Court ...


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