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Noel Uvalle v. Larry Dominick

February 10, 2010

NOEL UVALLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LARRY DOMINICK, TOWN OF CICERO, JAMES KLOSAK, AND DEREK DOMINICK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On September 8, 2009, Plaintiff Noel Uvalle ('Uvalle") filed the present one-count Amended Complaint against Defendant Town of Cicero ("Town of Cicero" or "Cicero"), as well as Defendants Larry Dominick, James Klosak, and Derek Dominick ("Individual Defendants"), alleging violations of his First Amendment rights. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court are the Individual Defendants' and Cicero's Motions for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' summary judgment motions. Specifically, the Court grants the Individual Defendants' motion as to Defendants James Klosak and Derek Dominick and dismisses these Defendants from this lawsuit. The Court denies Defendants' motions as to the Town of Cicero and Larry Dominick, who remain Defendants in this lawsuit.*fn1

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1 assists the Court by "organizing the evidence, identifying undisputed facts, and demonstrating precisely how each side propose[s] to prove a disputed fact with admissible evidence." Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009). "The opposing party is required 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." Id. (citing N.D. Ill. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)). Also, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires the nonmoving party to present a separate statement of additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008). Pursuant to the Local Rules, the Court will not consider any additional facts proposed by Uvalle in his Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response, but instead must rely on his Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts when making factual determinations. See id. at 643; see also Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005) ("Local Rule 56.1 requires specifically that a litigant seeking to oppose a motion for summary judgment file a response that contains a separate 'statement ... of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment.'") (emphasis in original).

Meanwhile, the purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts, not to make factual or legal arguments. See Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006) ("statement of material facts did [] not comply with Rule 56.1 as it failed to adequately cite the record and was filled with irrelevant information, legal arguments, and conjecture"). Further, the Court may disregard statements and responses that do not properly cite to the record. See Cichon, 401 F.3d at 809-10; see also Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 604 (7th Cir. 2006) ("district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1"). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Parties

The Town of Cicero employed Uvalle from May 2005 until March 2009. (R. 82, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) Uvalle began his employment with Cicero in the Auxiliary Police Department and ultimately worked his way up to the Water Department where he was an inspector for approximately two and a half years until Cicero terminated his employment in March 2009. (Id.) Larry Dominick ("Dominick") was initially elected Cicero's Town President in 2005. (Id. ¶ 2.) In addition to his position as Town President, Dominick is the head of the political organization known as the Cicero Voters Alliance ("CVA"). (Id.; R. 92, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 65.) James Klosak ("Klosak") has been Cicero's Inspector General since February 2007. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 3.) As Inspector General, Klosak is responsible for investigating allegations of wrongdoing by Cicero employees. (Id.) Defendant Derek Dominick ("Derek"), who is the son of Cicero's President Larry Dominick, is Cicero's Director of Human Resources and has held that position since March 2006. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 6.) As Director of Human Resources, Derek is responsible for handling attendance, payroll, the employee retirement fund, employee health and life insurance benefits, and personnel complaints. (Id. ¶ 5.) Derek is a member of the CVA and is a political supporter of his father, Larry Dominick. (Id. ¶ 6.)

B. Town of Cicero's February 2009 Election

From May 2005 until January 2009, Uvalle supported Dominick as Town President and was an active CVA member. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 8.) The 2009 Cicero municipal election in which Dominick sought re-election as Town President was scheduled to take place on February 24, 2009. (Id. ¶ 9.) President Dominick's opponent in this election was Cicero Police Officer Roberto Garcia. (Id. ¶ 10.) On or around February 11, 2009, Uvalle began to support Garcia for Town President, although he had attended a December 2008 kick-off event for Garcia to see what Garcia had to offer the Town of Cicero. (Id. ¶ 11; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 64.)

The parties dispute whether Dominick stated at a December 2008 CVA meeting that anyone who did not support the team should look for another job and that he would find out about it and get rid of them. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 21, 22; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 66, 67.) It is not disputed, however, that Dominick talked to CVA volunteer, Alex Rueda, about working on Garcia's side to get information. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 68; Defs.' Ex. 2, Dominick Dep., at 38-39.) Sometime thereafter, Uvalle felt that he was being targeted and harassed, and thus in February 2009, he decided to actively campaign for Garcia. (Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 75.) To that end, Uvalle worked for Garcia at the polling place at Precinct 36 on election day. (Id. ¶ 77.) Uvalle testified that outside of the polling place on that date, two Cicero employees, who were also CVA members, confronted him and told him that he would be fired for supporting Garcia. (Id.)

On the day after the election, Uvalle took a personal day off from work and maintains that he received a telephone call from Chantal Butler, a Water Department employee, telling him that he needed to turn in his work keys. (Id.) The parties dispute, however, whether another ...


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