The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge
This matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' motion for
summary judgment and motion to strike and on Defendant William A.
Randolph, Inc.'s ("Randolph") motion for summary judgment. For
the reasons stated below, we deny Plaintiffs' motion for summary
judgment and their motion to strike and grant Randolph's motion
for summary judgment.
Plaintiffs allege that as of January 1, 2000, there was a
collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") in effect between
Randolph and its employees' union. Plaintiffs specifically
contend that Randolph agreed to be bound by a CBA in 2000 ("2000
CBA") and another CBA in 2001 ("2001 CBA"). Plaintiffs further
allege that, pursuant to the CBAs, Randolph was obligated to make
contributions into Plaintiffs' pension funds ("Funds") and that
Randolph was obligated to permit the Funds to audit Randolph's
books and records to assess Randolph's compliance with its
contribution obligations. According to Plaintiffs, Randolph
breached the CBAs by failing to make contributions to the Funds
and by refusing to allow the Funds to audit Randolph's records.
After the instant action was commenced, Randolph did allow an
accounting firm hired by Plaintiffs to audit Randolph's records
("Audit") and the Audit report indicated that at least $30,997.76
was due to the Funds as of February 15, 2005. Plaintiffs brought
the instant action alleging violations of the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., and
the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 141 et
Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that 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). 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 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.Civ.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 party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v.
Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).
I. Motion to Strike and Local Rule 56.1
Plaintiffs move to strike ceratin affidavits provided by
Randolph that questions among other things, the authenticity of
certain related documents. Randolph, however, correctly points
out that all of the concerns expressed in Plaintiffs' motion to
strike should have been addressed by Plaintiffs during discovery.
Plaintiffs cannot remedy their own lack of diligence during
discovery by seeking to strike evidence that Plaintiffs neglected to examine and investigate during
discovery. Plaintiffs have not provided any sufficient
justification that would warrant striking the affidavits and,
therefore, we deny Plaintiffs' motion to strike.
In regard to Local Rule 56.1, Plaintiffs make a variety of
evasive responses to Randolph's statement of material facts and,
therefore, such facts are deemed undisputed. Pursuant to Local
Rule 56.1, when a party files a motion for summary judgment, each
party must prepare a statement of material facts and each party
is required to respond to the opposing party's statement of
material facts and either admit or deny each fact. 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) (stating in addition that "[t]he purpose of the
56.1 statement is to identify for the Court the evidence
supporting a party's factual assertions in an organized manner:
it is not intended as a forum for factual or legal argument").
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 that do
not directly oppose an assertion are improper and thus the
contested fact is deemed to be admitted pursuant to Local Rule
56.1). A court is 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, 920, 922 (7th Cir. 1994) (stating in addition that a
local rule pertaining to summary judgment "is more than a
technicality"). Further, the 7th Circuit has held "that a
district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule
56.1." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809,
817 (7th Cir. 2004) (stating in addition that "[s]ubstantial
compliance is not strict compliance").
In the instant action, a variety of facts are apparently
contested by Plaintiffs, but when the requirements of Local Rule
56.1 are applied, these facts are deemed undisputed. For example,
Randolph asserts in its statement of fact paragraph 4 that
Randolph has not employed covered employees since 1997 and did
not employ covered employees during the Audit period. (D SF 4).
Plaintiffs respond by stating that the facts are disputed in
part. In an effort to avoid the fact that Plaintiffs have no
evidence to contradict Randolph's statement of fact, Plaintiffs
simply make a facial challenge, without proper justification, to
the evidence presented by Randolph.
II. Whether Randolph Was Bound by CBAs
Randolph argues that after 1997, when it made some
contributions for two isolated months, Randolph was not a party
to a CBA associated with Plaintiffs and in particular was not a
party to the 2000 CBA or the 2001 CBA. Randolph argues that it is
not obligated under either the 2000 CBA or the 2001 CBA. In fact
Plaintiffs concede that Randolph is not a signatory on the 2000
CBA. Rather, Plaintiffs argue that Randolph impliedly joined the
CBAs in light of its prior conduct. See Moriarty v. Larry G. Lewis Funeral Directors Ltd., 150 F.3d 773, 777
(7th Cir. 1998) (stating that the "general principles of
contract law permit an employer to adopt a collective bargaining
agreement by a course of conduct plus a writing such as the
certification line on the contribution report; a signature at the
bottom of the collective bargaining agreement itself is
unnecessary"). Specifically, Plaintiffs point out that Randolph
paid contributions to the Funds for work done in June and July of
1997. Randolph also points out that after 1997, Randolph
continued to file monthly reports with the Funds for 2½ years
prior to the Audit period and that Randolph attempted to formally
terminate its participation in the CBAs on February 17, 2005.
We note also that Plaintiffs blatantly misstate the facts in
this case in an effort to cloud the issues at hand. Plaintiffs
argue that "[e]ven if there were no executed agreement covering
2000, which Defendant does not actually contend, Defendant would
still be bound by virtue of having paid contributions and filed
reports for 2½ years prior to 2000 and for the entire year 2000
and for 3½ years thereafter." (Ans. D SJ 4) (emphasis added).
Such a statement suggests that during 2000 and afterwards,
Randolph filed monthly statements and made contributions for
covered work done by members of the bargaining unit. However, a
close examination of Plaintiffs' generalized statement reveals
that it is in fact inaccurate. It is undisputed pursuant to Local
Rule 56.1 that Randolph only employed members of the bargaining
unit that were covered by the CBA during June and July of 1997,
and that Randolph only made contributions during that period.
Although Randolph admits to continuing to file ...