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CASE v. MIDWESTERN SPORTS MEDICINE

December 15, 2005.

KIMBERLY A. CASE, Plaintiff,
v.
MIDWESTERN SPORTS MEDICINE & ORTHOPAEDIC SURGICAL SPECIALISTS, LTD., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOAN LEFKOW, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Kimberly A. Case ("Case") filed this lawsuit against her former employer, Midwestern Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgical Specialists, Ltd. ("Midwestern"), alleging claims of hostile work environment sexual harassment and constructive discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-1 et seq. The court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. Before the court are Midwestern's motion to strike Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) Response and Counterstatement to Defendant's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Material Facts and motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the court denies Midwestern's motion to strike [#31] but grants its motion for summary judgment [#19].

I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS

  Summary judgment obviates the need for a trial where 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). To determine whether any genuine fact exists, the court must pierce the pleadings and assess the proof as presented in depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits that are part of the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) Advisory Committee's notes. The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of proving there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). In response, the nonmoving party cannot rest on bare pleadings alone but must use the evidentiary tools listed above to designate specific material facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324; Insolia v. Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598 (7th Cir. 2000). A material fact must be outcome determinative under the governing law. Insolia, 216 F.3d at 598-99. Although a bare contention that an issue of fact exists is insufficient to create a factual dispute, Bellaver v. Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485, 492 (7th Cir. 2000), the court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party as well as view all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

  II. MIDWESTERN'S MOTION TO STRIKE

  A. Case's Failure to File Timely Her Local Rule 56.1 Response and Counterstatement

  Judge Kocoras entered an order on August 11, 2005 directing the parties to file dispositive motions by September 26, 2005 and responses by October 17, 2005. Case filed her response brief and Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response and Counterstatement on October 18, 2005, the day after they were due, but did not seek the court's leave to do so, file a motion for an extension of time, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b), or otherwise explain the tardy filing. As a result, it is within the court's discretion to refuse to consider Case's Local Rule 56.1 Response and Counterstatement. See Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Stop Treaty Abuse Wisconsin, Inc., 991 F.2d 1249, 1257 (7th Cir. 1993) ("[A] decision to disregard all materials submitted after a reasonable filing deadline is certainly not an abuse of discretion because it allows the district court to preserve the moving party's right to respond to the resisting party's argument and to decide the summary judgment motion in a timely fashion.") (internal quotations and citation omitted). See also Spears v. City of Indianapolis, 74 F.3d 153 (7th Cir. 1996) ("Deadlines, in the law business, serve a useful purpose and reasonable adherence to them is to be encouraged.").

  In this case, however, the delay of one day did not prejudice Midwestern's ability to reply to Case's response nor did it cause a substantial delay in the resolution of this matter. The court also granted Case leave to file a second amended memorandum of law after she submitted her tardy Response brief and Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response and Counterstatement. The court would not have granted leave for what would have constituted an exercise in futility if it had intended to disregard Case's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) materials. Accordingly, the court denies Midwestern's motion to strike as untimely Case's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response and Counterstatement.

  B. Local Rule 56.1

  Midwestern also has moved to strike Case's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response and Counterstatement for failing to comply with Local Rule 56.1. Midwestern's objections are well-taken. If the court were to rule on the merits of Midwestern's motion, the court would strike the vast majority of Case's responses, resulting in her admission of the corresponding paragraph in Midwestern's Local Rule 56.1 Statement.

  In particular, Case failed to refer to any evidence contradicting the asserted facts or her citations to purportedly contradicting evidence failed to contradict the asserted statements contained in paragraphs 11, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 34, 41, 42, 43, 44, 50, 56, 57, 60, 62, 69, 73, 77, 78, 82, 83, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 96, 99, 100, 101, 102, 105, 107, 109, 118, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, and 128 of Midwestern's Local Rule 56.1 Statement. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A); McGuire v. United Postal Serv., 152 F.3d 673, 675 (7th Cir. 1998) ("An answer that does not deny the allegations in the numbered paragraphs with citations to supporting evidence in the record constitutes an admission."). Thus, the court would strike Case's responses and, to the extent that Midwestern's statement of facts are supported by their citations to the record, the court would deem those facts admitted. Likewise, Case failed to make specific reference to the affidavits or parts of the record in her responses to paragraphs 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 20. The court also would strike Case's response to paragraph 69 of Midwestern's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts. She cites to the affidavit of Lydia Tarsius, which was not attached as an exhibit or otherwise made a part of the record. Accordingly, there is no support for her denial of paragraph 69. Additionally, Case raised relevance objections or other legal arguments without admitting or denying Midwestern's asserted facts in her responses to paragraphs 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 55, 58, 59, 61, 63, 64, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 76, 84, 106, 108, 109, 110, 111, 115, 116, 117, and 129 of Midwestern's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts. Cady v. Miss Paige, Ltd., No. 02 C 4867, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7613, 2004 WL 1144044 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 30, 2004) ("Local Rule 56.1 . . . emphasizes that it is inappropriate to include legal conclusions and/or argument in the Rule 56.1 statements of fact."). The court, therefore, would strike Case's responses and deem those facts admitted to the extent that they are supported by their citations to the record.

  In this case, however, the court declines to exercise its discretion to enforce Local Rule 56.1 strictly. See Little v. Cox's Supermarket, 71 F.3d 637 at 641 (7th Cir. 1995) ("It is clear that the decision whether to apply the rule strictly or overlook any transgression is one left to the court's discretion."), citing Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918 at 923 (7th Cir. 1994). As the Seventh Circuit has stated repeatedly, "A local rule of a federal district court is written by and for judges to deal with special problems of their court, and we are disposed therefore to give a district judge's interpretation of [her] court's local rules . . . considerable weight." Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., LLC, 401 F.3d 803 at 810 (7th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). While many, if not most, of Case's responses do not comply with the clear instructions of Local Rule 56.1(b), Case's Local Rule 56.1(b) Response and Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Counterstatement of Fact sufficiently identify her disputes with the facts asserted. The court, therefore, denies Midwestern's motion to strike.

  III. FACTS

  A. Background

  From September 12, 2000 to March 20, 2003, Case worked as a billing supervisor for Midwestern. (Defendant Midwestern Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgical Specialists, Ltd.'s Local Rule 56.1(a) Statement of Uncontested Material Facts ¶ 2, hereinafter "DSF ¶ ___") (Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) Response and Counterstatement To Defendant's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Material Facts ¶ 132, hereinafter "PSF ¶ ___"). During her employment at Midwestern, Case reported directly to her supervisor, Steve Maiworm ("Maiworm"), Midwestern's Practice Administrator/Executive Director. (PSF ¶¶ 307, 349, 401). Maiworm, in turn, reported to Dr. Eugene Lopez, the president and primary owner of Midwestern, Dr. Bruce Montella, Dr. Mary Morrell, Dr. Martin Saltzman, and Dr. Daniel Kuesis. (DSF ¶¶ 4, 87). By all accounts, Case was a responsible employee who performed her job duties competently and efficiently. (DSF ¶ 7).

  On March 6, 2003, Case resigned her employment with Midwestern by submitting a letter, which stated, "To Whom It May Concern: This letter serves as my resignation from my employment with Midwest Sports Medicine. My final day of employment will be March 20, 2003. Thank you for the opportunities that have been afforded to me in the past two years. Sincerely, Kim Case." (DSF ¶¶ 16, ...


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