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Strom v. Strom Closures

November 7, 2008

VICTORIA STROM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STROM CLOSURES, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-Yeghiayan United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SAMUEL DER-YEGHIAYAN, District Judge

This matter is before the court on Plaintiff Victoria Strom's ("Strom") partial motion for summary judgment and on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment and we deny Strom's partial motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Strom alleges that she was employed by Defendant Strom Closures, Inc. ("SCI"). Defendants Terry Barnett and David Barnett are allegedly principal officers of SCI and are involved in the day-to-day operations of SCI. Strom contends that SCI failed to pay her minimum wages for the hours that she worked. Strom includes in her complaint a claim alleging violations of 29 U.S.C. § 206 of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (Count I), a claim alleging a violation of 820 ILCS 105/4 of the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq. (Count II), and a claim alleging a violation of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("IWPCA"), 820 ILCS 115/1 et seq. (Count III).

Defendants also filed amended counterclaims in this case. Defendants include in their amended counterclaims a breach of contract claim (Count I), a conversion claim (Count II), an interference with contractual relations claim (Count III), an intentional interference with prospective economic advantage claim (Count IV), an unfair competition claim (Count V), a deceptive business practices claim (Count VI), and a patent infringement claim (Count VII). On February 20, 2008, we granted Strom's motion to dismiss the counterclaims. We also granted Strom's motion to strike all of Defendants' affirmative defenses. Strom now moves for summary judgment as to liability on all claims, and for damages on the IWPCA claims. Defendants move for summary judgment on all claims.

LEGAL STANDARD

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). When there are cross motions for summary judgment, the court should "construe the evidence and all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom the motion under consideration is made." Premcor USA, Inc. v. American Home Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005).

DISCUSSION

Defendants argue that Strom cannot prevail on the FLSA claims and that the court should dismiss the remaining state claims. Strom contends that she is entitled to summary judgment on all claims as to liability and on the IWPCA claim as to damages.

I. Defendants' Statement of Material Facts

Both Strom and Defendants filed statements of material facts along with their motions for summary judgment. While Defendants filed a response to Strom's statement of material facts, Strom failed to file any response to Defendants' statement of material facts. Defendants also indicate in their reply brief that Strom has not responded to their statement of material facts and Defendants seek to have all the facts in their statement of material facts to be deemed undisputed. (Reply DSJ 1). If a non-movant fails to properly respond to the movant's statement of material facts, the facts are deemed to be undisputed. LR 56.1; Dent v. Bestfoods, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n.1 (N.D. Ill. 2003). The Seventh Circuit has stated that 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). Strom had an opportunity to respond to Defendants' statement of material facts and did not respond. Therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, the facts included in Defendants' statement of material facts are deemed to be undisputed. See Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371, 382 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008)(stating that a "district court has broad discretion to require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1"); Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 604 (7th Cir. 2006)(stating that "district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1").

II. FLSA Claims (Count I)

Defendants argue that Strom cannot be deemed an employee under the FLSA and that Strom was at most an independent contractor. Pursuant to the FLSA, "[e]very employer shall pay to each of his employees who in any workweek is engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or is employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, wages at the following rates: (1) except as otherwise provided in this section, not less than-- (A) $5.85 an hour, beginning on the 60th day after May 25, 2007; (B) $6.55 an hour, beginning 12 months after that 60th day; and (C) $7.25 an hour, beginning 24 months after that 60th day. . . ." 29 U.S.C. ยง 206(a). An "employee" is defined by the FLSA as "any individual employed by an employer," and the term "employer" is defined under the FLSA to "include[] any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an ...


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