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Daoust v. Abbott Laboratories

September 19, 2006

JEFFREY DAOUST PLAINTIFF,
v.
ABBOTT LABORATORIES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Jeffrey Daoust ("Daoust") filed a one-count Complaint on October 19, 2005, invoking this court's diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, against defendant Abbott Laboratories ("Abbott Labs"), alleging a claim of retaliatory discharge in contravention of Illinois law. (Dkt. No. 1). On August 7, 2006, Abbott Labs filed Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, along with Defendant's Memorandum of Law in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment and Defendant's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts to Which There Is No Genuine Dispute. (Dkt. Nos. 30-1, 30-2, 30-3). Daoust filed Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 32), and the court ordered Abbott Labs' response, suspending the briefing schedule on the original motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 40). Abbott Labs filed Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on September 11, 2006 (Dkt. No. 41), and the next day filed Defendant's Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiff's 56.1(b) Statement of Material Facts. (Dkt. No. 43). For reasons discussed below, the court grants Daoust's Motion to Strike Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Abbott Labs' Motion to Strike Portions of Plaintiff's 56.1(b) Statement of Material Facts is therefore moot.

LEGAL STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), 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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The court's sole function in addressing a motion for summary judgment is to determine whether there is a genuine issue of fact that requires trial. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)).

In the Northern District of Illinois, Local Rule 56.1*fn1 guides the parties through the summary judgment process, outlining the procedures for setting facts before the court in the manner most helpful to the court's determination of whether there is a factual dispute for trial. See Brown v. GES Exposition Serv., Inc., 03 C 3921, 2006 WL 861174, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 31, 2006) ("The purpose of Local Rule 56.1 is to isolate legitimately disputed facts and assist the court in its summary judgment determination."). Through "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence," Rule 56.1 distills the evidence uncovered during discovery into its essential components. Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Tr., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000).

Pursuant to Rule 56.1(a)(3), "movants for summary judgment [are] required to submit in support of their summary-judgment motion a statement of material facts, comprised of short numbered paragraphs with citations to admissible evidence." Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 682 (7th Cir. 2003). Each paragraph "should contain only one or two individual allegations, thereby allowing easy response." Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 583 (N.D. Ill. 2000). Additionally, these factual allegations should be both undisputed and necessary to the motion, i.e. "material." Committee Comment to N.D. Ill. Local R. 56.1. The allegations must include specific references to the factual record, including proper page and paragraph numbers. Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 583. Through this type of procedure, Rule 56.1 serves "the important function [of] organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts," thus saving the district court the trouble of "scour[ing] the record looking for factual disputes." Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Bay Area Bus. Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 633-34 (7th Cir. 2005).

Moving parties are also required to submit a supporting memorandum of law with their motion for summary judgment. N.D. Ill. Local R. 56.1(a)(2).In addition to setting forth factual and legal arguments in favor of their motion, parties have a duty to recite their version of the facts in the supporting memorandum. Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 585. The memorandum's statement of facts "should inform the Court of the broad circumstances giving rise to the dispute but detail only those facts relevant to the motion." Id. Furthermore, citations in the memorandum's statement of facts should be to the 56.1(a) or (b) statement only. Id. at 586.

The Seventh Circuit has "consistently and repeatedly upheld a district court's discretion to require strict compliance with its local rules governing summary judgment." Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1104, 1109 (7th Cir. 2004). "Failure to submit [a 56.1(a)(3)] statement constitutes grounds for denial of the motion." N.D. Ill. Local R. 56.1(a).

PROCEDURAL ISSUES RAISED BY ABBOTT LABS' FILING

The question before the court is the proper balance between Abbott Labs' Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts to Which There Is No Genuine Dispute ("56.1(a)(3) statement") and its Memorandum of Law in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. Nos. 30-2, 30-3). In furtherance of this discussion, it is helpful to note the nine paragraphs that represent the entirety of Abbott Labs' two-page 56.1(a)(3) statement:

(1) a statement identifying Daoust as a citizen and resident of the state of Wisconsin;

(2) a statement identifying Abbott Labs as an Illinois corporation;

(3) a statement regarding ...


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