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Blunt v. Exelon/Commonwealth Edison Co.

July 28, 2009

FREDERICK BLUNT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EXELON/COMMONWEALTH EDISON COMPANY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants, Plaintiff's former employer, alleging that his employment was terminated based on his race and color in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. and Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, as modified by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

II. PRELIMINARY ISSUES

"Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires a movant to submit a statement of undisputed material facts that, according to the movant, entitles that party to judgment as a matter of law." Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 583 (N.D. Ill. 2000). According to the rule, the statement "shall consist of short numbered paragraphs," each of which specifically refers to affidavits, parts of the record, and other material in support of the facts set forth therein. Local Rule 56.1. Defendant has complied with this requirement.

Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) requires the opposing party to file "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Pursuant to Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), the non-movant should also file its own statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to supporting material. Just as the movant's statement, the non-movant's statement should consist of short numbered paragraphs.

In this case, Blunt has filed no response to Defendants' 56.1 statement, nor a statement of additional facts pursuant to Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C). According to Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), "[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party."

This rule may be the most important litigation rule outside statutes of limitation because the consequences of failing to satisfy its requirements are so dire. Essentially, the penalty for failing to properly respond to a movant's 56.1(a) statement is usually summary judgment for the movant (at least if the movant has done his or her job correctly) because the movant's factual allegations are deemed admitted.

Malec, 191 F.R.D. at 583-584. The Seventh Circuit has consistently upheld strict enforcement of Rule 56.1. Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). Because Plaintiff has failed to respond to Defendants' 56.1(a) statement of fact, Defendants' factual allegations are deemed admitted.

III. STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS

On December 6, 1984, Plaintiff Frederick Blunt began working for Defendant Commonwealth Edison ("ComEd"), a subsidiary of Defendant Exelon, as a cable splicer. As part of his duties, Plaintiff was required to use machinery to bury electrical lines, to physically splice one kind of cable with another, to find and fix breaks in the cable, and to turn on power after an installation or repair. This job can be a dangerous one, and cable splicers have been seriously injured when cables have exploded. Property damage may also ensue if correct procedures are not followed.

On February 1, 2006, at around 11:00 a.m., Blunt was on the job when he felt something "pull" in his arm. Initially, Blunt was hesitant to report such a minor incident to his superiors. However, by the end of his shift, the pain had not subsided. At that point, he made a report to a supervisor, Grady Duckworth. The next day Blunt reported for work, and another supervisor, Jim Eckhorn, questioned Blunt about whether the pain in his arm might have been caused by a non-work-related incident. When Blunt said that he had heard something "pop" while he was working, Eckhorn told Blunt he would need to be examined by the company doctor. Blunt complied. The doctor informed Blunt that he did not think the injury was serious, and he sent Blunt away with some over-the-counter pain medication, a rubber exercise band and a workout sheet. After the visit, Blunt returned to work.

That evening, a friend visited Blunt at his home. During this visit, Blunt's friend laid out some cocaine, which he had brought with him, and began to snort it. A few times throughout the course of the evening, Blunt ran his finger through the powder and rubbed it on his gums. The next morning, Blunt called into work and said that the pain in his arm was so bad that he would not be able to come in, and that he was going to see his doctor. At 6:26 a.m. Duckworth emailed his superior, John Boyle, notifying him of Blunt's absence. Boyle responded at 6:32 a.m. asking Duckworth to determine whether Blunt was maintaining the injury to be work related. If so, said Boyle, Blunt would need to see ComEd's doctor immediately.

At 6:46 am, Duckworth reported to Boyle that Blunt said his arm injury "might" be work related and that Blunt had agreed to see the company doctor. According to Duckworth, he called Blunt back at around 7 a.m. and asked him to come to work so that he could be transported from there to a medical clinic used by the company. Blunt responded that he had taken some Vicodin and would not be able to drive in, but that if Duckworth wanted to pick Blunt up at his home, that would be fine. Blunt also mentioned that he had made an appointment with his own doctor. Blunt told Duckworth that he hadn't slept much the previous night, and that he was going to sleep until it was time for his ...


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