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ELKHATIB v. DUNKIN' DONUTS

November 12, 2004.

WALID ELKHATIB Plaintiff,
v.
DUNKIN' DONUTS, INC. a Delaware corporation and ALLIED DOMECQ Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES NORGLE, District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Before the court is Defendants Dunkin' Donuts, Inc. and Allied Domecq's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

I. BACKGROUND*fn1

  A. Facts

  Plaintiff Walik Elkhatib ("Elkhatib"), a Palestinian-Arab, came to this country in 1971. He is now an American citizen. In 1979, he purchased his first Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Bellwood, Illinois. Elkhatib became a Dunkin' Donuts franchisee partly because, he claims, his Arab race forbids him from handling pork, and in 1979, Defendants' stores did not carry pork products. In 1984, Defendants began offering breakfast sandwiches with bacon, ham, or sausage at its franchises. Elkhatib refused to sell these items at his store, and Defendants' District Manager Jeff Zevoral ("Zevoral") raised no objections. In 1995, Elkhatib opened his second franchise in Berkeley, Illinois, and once again refused to sell pork products. Defendants did not object. A year later, Elkhatib began selling breakfast sandwiches without meat at his Bellwood and Berkeley locations. Zevoral provided Elkhatib with a sign that said "No Meat Products Available." In 1998, Elkhatib opened his third franchise in Westchester, Illinois.*fn2 Then, in 2002, Elkhatib was approached by Gene Liguoritis ("Liguoritis"), Development Manager for Dunkin' Donuts. Liguoritis suggested that Elkhatib relocate the Westchester store from 1901 South Mannheim Road to a location at the intersection of Mannheim and Roosevelt Roads, in Westchester.

  However, in May, 2002, Liguoritis informed Elkhatib that Defendants would not agree to the proposed relocation of the franchise. Dunkin' Donuts supervisors Greg Novak ("Novak") and Chuck Cowgill ("Cowgill") then held a meeting with Elkhatib at the Westchester store. At that meeting, Elkhatib informed Novak and Cowgill that he could not sell meat breakfast sandwiches because he was forbidden to handle pork. Then, on August 14, 2002, Elkhatib received a letter from Kathryn Thomas ("Thomas"), Legal Counsel for DOMEQ, which stated that Elkhatib was no longer eligible for relocation, or renewal of his current franchise agreements, because of his failure to carry Dunkin' Donuts' full breakfast sandwich product line. Compl., Ex. 3. B. Procedural Framework

  On November 8, 2002, Elkhatib filed a complaint against Defendants Dunkin' Donuts and Allied Domecq alleging civil rights violations. In response, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on January 13, 2003. That Motion was denied on March 27, 2003. Then, on July 1, 2004, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is now fully briefed and before the court.

  II. Discussion

  A. Standard for Summary Judgment

  Summary judgment is permissible when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c). The nonmoving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must identify specific facts, see Cornfield v. Consolidated High Sch. Dist. No. 230, 991 F.2d 1316, 1320 (7th Cir. 1993), that raise more than a mere scintilla of evidence to show a genuine triable issue of material fact. See Murphy v. ITT Technical Services, Inc., 176 F.3d 934, 936 (7th Cir. 1999).

  In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court can only consider evidence that would be admissible at trial under the Federal Rules of Evidence. See Bombard v. Fort Wayne Newspapers, Inc., 92 F.3d 560, 562 (7th Cir. 1996). The court views the record and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Fed.R.Civ. P. 56(c); see also Perdomo v. Browner, 67 F.3d 140, 144 (7th Cir. 1995). "In the light most favorable" simply means that summary judgment is not appropriate if the court must make "a choice of inferences." See United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962); see also First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 280 (1968); Wolf v. Buss (America) Inc., 77 F.3d 914, 922 (7th Cir. 1996). The choice between reasonable inferences from facts is a jury function. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

  When the defendant moves for summary judgment, the court must view the record and all inferences in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ameritech Benefit Plan Comm. v. Communication Workers of Am., 220 F.3d 814, 821 (7th Cir. 2000). However, the inferences construed in the plaintiff's favor must be drawn from specific facts identified in the record that support the plaintiff's position. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922-23 (7th Cir. 1994). Under this standard, "[c]onclusory allegations alone cannot defeat a motion for summary judgment." Thomas v. Christ Hospital and Medical Center, 328 F.3d, 890, 892-93 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990)).

  B. Elkhatib's Claim under 42 U.S.C. §§ ...


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