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Othon v. LG Electronics USA

June 18, 2009

GABRIEL OTHON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LG ELECTRONICS USA, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc.'s (LG) motion for summary judgment. This matter is also before the court on Plaintiff Gabriel Othon's (Othon) pro se motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we grant LG's motion for summary judgment and we deny Othon's motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Othon alleges that he was employed by LG from 2005 to 2006. During that time period, Othon allegedly suffered from schizophrenia. Othon alleges that LG was aware of the fact that he suffered from schizophrenia and that LG took certain adverse employment actions against him, such as excluding him from team functions and social gatherings, failing to promote him to a position for which he applied, and eventually terminating his employment in 2006. Othon alleges that all of these actions were taken against him on the basis of his schizophrenia, as well as on the basis of his race, sex, and national origin.

Othon brought the instant action and includes in his amended complaint a claim for discrimination on the basis of a disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (ADA), a claim for discrimination on the basis of his national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Section 1981), a Title VII race discrimination claim, a Section 1981 race discrimination claim, and a Title VII gender discrimination claim. LG previously filed a motion to dismiss, which we granted with respect to the Title VII claims and we denied with respect to the Section 1981 and ADA claims. LG now moves for summary judgment on the remaining claims. Othon has also filed a pro se motion for summary judgment.

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

I. Filings By the Parties

As we noted in our memorandum opinion granting in part and denying in part LG's motion to dismiss, Othon is a pro se plaintiff whose filings are entitled to liberal construction and are "not held to the stringent standards expected of . . . lawyers." McCormick v. City of Chicago, 230 F.3d 319, 325 (7th Cir. 2000). However, even as a pro se litigant, Othon is required to follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules, and he is not excused from complying with his responsibilities as a plaintiff. See Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 2008)(stating that while "courts are required to give liberal construction to pro se pleadings . . . it is also well established that pro se litigants are not excused from compliance with procedural rules"); Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006)(stating that "the Supreme Court has made clear that even pro se litigants must follow rules of civil procedure"). Local Rule 56.2 requires parties moving for summary judgment against a pro se party to serve and file a separate document explaining the process for opposing summary judgment, including the process for complying with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) and Local Rule 56.1. L.R. 56.2. In this case, LG has served and filed such a document in compliance with Local Rule 56.2.

Despite notification of the necessary steps for opposing summary judgment, Othon has not filed any responses to LG's Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts, nor has he filed his own Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts in support of his own motion for summary judgment. We further note that, although Othon has filed a brief in opposition to LG's motion for summary judgment along with certain exhibits, Othon has not pointed to sufficient evidence that either refutes evidence presented by LG or provides support for his own motion for summary judgment. At this stage in the litigation, Othon is required to support his claims with evidence and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); see also Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., Inc., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003)(describing summary judgment as the "put up or shut up" moment in the lawsuit). Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, any facts included in a party's Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts that are not properly denied by the opposing party are deemed to be admitted. L. R. 56.1; Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009)(stating that "'[b]ecause of the important function local rules like Rule 56.1 serve in organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts, we have consistently upheld the district court's discretion to require strict compliance with those rules'")(quoting FTC v. Bay Area Bus. Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 633 (7th Cir. 2005)). As indicated above, Othon is not excused from complying with Local Rule 56.1 simply because he is a pro se plaintiff. Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006)(finding that a district court did not abuse discretion when it adopted the defendants' version of events in their Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts when the pro se plaintiff failed to respond to those facts despite the opportunity to do so). Therefore, since Othon has failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1, the properly supported facts contained in LG's Local Rule 56.1 statement of facts are deemed to be admitted for the purposes of summary judgment.

II. LG's Motion for Summary Judgment

LG argues in support of its motion for summary judgment that, based on the undisputed facts, there are no genuine issues of material fact remaining and LG is entitled to judgment as a ...


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