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Pratt v. McAnarney

June 25, 2010

BONNIE PRATT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JUDY MCANARNEY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This cause is before the Court on Defendant Judy McAnarney's Motion for Summary Judgment (Motion) (d/e 42) and Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment (Memorandum) (d/e 43). Plaintiff Bonnie Pratt has filed Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Response) (d/e 48) and a second Plaintiffs' [sic] Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 51).*fn1 Defendant then filed her Reply to Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Reply) (d/e 52).

This matter is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. For the reasons described below, Defendant's Motion is granted.

APPLICABLE LAW

A motion for summary judgment must be granted "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Herman v. Nat'l Broadcasting Co., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984). Once the moving party has produced evidence showing that it is entitled to summary judgment, the non-moving party must present evidence to show that issues of fact remain. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). A court properly enters summary judgment "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322; see McKenzie v. Ill. Dept. of Transportation, 92 F.3d 473, 479 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Celotex).

To successfully oppose a motion for summary judgment, the non-movant must present "specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2); Zenith, 475 U.S. at 587 (emphasis omitted). There is not a genuine issue for trial if "the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party . . . ." Zenith, 475 U.S. at 587. Failure to respond to a moving party's statement of facts is deemed an admission of those facts. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir. 1994); CDIL-LR 7.1(D)(2)(b)(6); see Senske v. Sybase, Inc., 588 F.3d 501, 503 n.1 (7th Cir. 2009).

FACTS

Under this District's Local Rules, a response to a motion for summary judgment must contain separate subsections addressing which facts in the motion for summary judgment are undisputed, which facts are disputed, and which facts are immaterial. CDIL-LR 7.1(D)(2)(b)(1)-(4). "A failure to respond to any numbered fact will be deemed an admission of the fact." CDIL-LR 7.1(D)(2)(b)(6). Plaintiff did not comply with this Rule because she failed to identify which of the facts in Defendant's Motion were disputed, undisputed, or immaterial. Additionally, while Plaintiff supplied a statement of additional material facts, she did not support these facts with citations to evidence. Under this District's Local Rules, "[e]ach additional fact must be supported by evidentiary documentation referenced by specific page." CDIL-LR 7.1(D)(2)(b)(5). Therefore, the Court deems admitted all of the facts in Defendant's Motion, and will not consider Plaintiff's statement of additional material facts. See Waldridge, 24 F.3d at 922 ("We have also repeatedly upheld the strict enforcement of [local rules], sustaining the entry of summary judgment when the non-movant has failed to submit a factual statement in the form called for by the pertinent rule and thereby conceded the movant's version of the facts.").

Plaintiff Bonnie Pratt began working for the Illinois Office of the Comptroller (Comptroller's Office or Office) on June 1, 1998, as a temporary, or intermittent, employee. She became a full-time employee on February 1, 2000, and worked in the Vendor Unit (Unit) as an office assistant until April 16, 2000, when she was promoted to office associate. Plaintiff's supervisor was Karla Grigsby. Defendant is the Comptroller's Office's Director of human resources, and has held that position since August 2005.

The Comptroller's Office's computer system contains various drives. For example, each employee's computer contains a C drive, which is a personal, local drive housing documents that are accessible only by their author. The J drive is a unit-wide drive containing documents that are shared among all employees in a particular unit. The O drive contains documents that are shared by all employees of the Comptroller's Office.

In the late months of 2006, Plaintiff was discussing the Unit with a co-worker, Alice Kern. Kern asked Plaintiff about a co-worker, Rabindra (Rabin) Fozdar, who was of Indian descent, spoke English with an accent, and had a hearing disability. Plaintiff believed that the Unit was being "punished" because Fozdar was part of the Unit. Memorandum, Attachment 1 (d/e 43-1), Deposition of Bonnie Pratt (Pratt Depo.), 23:12-19. Plaintiff testified that Fozdar spoke loudly on his cell phone during work hours, sneezed and coughed without covering his mouth, and intruded into his co-workers' work space. Pratt Depo, 25:10-20. Plaintiff did not like Fozdar, and, according to Defendant, had sent "a constant barrage of emails complaining about [him]" to Grigsby, human resources personnel, and the union. Memorandum, Ex. 3 (d/e 43-3, p. 6-10 of 14), Memorandum/Oral Warning to Bonnie Pratt (Oral Warning), p. 4. Kern told Plaintiff that she had "found a complaint that [Fozdar had] written about another supervisor on the O drive, and perhaps, if you were to read that, you might have more compassion for him." Pratt Depo, 23:5-9.

At that time, Plaintiff did not tell Fozdar that one of his personal documents may have been stored on the O drive, which anybody in the Office could access. Nor did Plaintiff look for the document herself until February 20, 2007. On that date, Plaintiff began to search for the document Kern had referenced, to no avail. However, Plaintiff located a document authored by Bill Mansfield, a former employee, and directed to all supervisors in the Comptroller's Office. Pratt, realizing the document was personal, closed the file after reading the first paragraph. She believed that such documents should not be stored on the O drive. Plaintiff also discovered a "benign" document authored by Don Templeman, an Assistant Director of the Comptroller's Office, directed to the Comptroller. Pratt Depo., 30:15-18. Finally, Plaintiff located a document named "Kathy Strubbe," but her attempts to open the file were unsuccessful.

That same afternoon, at 4:07 p.m., Plaintiff emailed Defendant, complaining about how personal and confidential information about Comptroller's Office employees was accessible on the O drive. Plaintiff stated that a personal memorandum she had written was on the O drive, in addition to the Mansfield Memorandum. Memorandum, Ex. 2 (d/e 43-3, p. 5 of 14), Email to Judy McAnarney from Bonnie Pratt. Pratt did not raise these concerns with Grigsby, her immediate supervisor, at this time because Grigsby was gone for the day.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., Defendant, whose office was on the first floor, came up to Plaintiff's desk, which was on the second floor, after Defendant's telephone calls to Plaintiff went unanswered. Defendant asked Plaintiff to show her the documents Plaintiff referenced in her email. Defendant stated that she was concerned that personal, confidential information was accessible by any employee in the Comptroller's Office, and wanted to make sure that she removed any such information from the O drive immediately. Memorandum, Ex. 1 (d/e 43-3, p. 1-4 of 14), Affidavit of Judy McAnarney (McAnarney Affidavit), ¶¶ 13, 20.

Plaintiff tried to show Defendant the files she referenced in the email, but could not find them on the O drive. Plaintiff testified that Defendant called her a "game player," and that Defendant said that Plaintiff was out to get "[p]oor Rabin." Pratt Depo., 34:19-23. Plaintiff responded, "Oh, poor Rabin. That's bullshit." Pratt Depo., 35: 4-5. Defendant told Plaintiff that any further discussions would have to take place in Defendant's office. Plaintiff followed Defendant to the elevator, indicating that she wanted to respond to the allegation that she was a "game player." However, rather than going to Defendant's office, Plaintiff went home, since her work day ended at 4:30 p.m.

The following day, Miguel Calderon, the Comptroller's Office's equal employment opportunity officer, and John Dill, the Office's labor liaison, contacted Plaintiff. Calderon called Plaintiff and asked her to describe where she had found the documents referenced in her email to McAnarney. When he was unable to find them using Plaintiff's instructions, both he and Dill went to Plaintiff's work station so that she could show them where the documents were. Dill found Plaintiff's personal document, but it was not on the O drive; instead, the document was on her C drive, which could only be accessed with a password. Plaintiff showed Calderon and Dill the Mansfield Memorandum, but was unable to find any other potentially personal or confidential document on the O drive.

Plaintiff then asked Calderon and Dill about the Fozdar document, which she had never seen and was not even sure was on the O drive. They told her that the matter needed to be discussed downstairs in the human resources office. Plaintiff went downstairs with Calderon and Dill, and was ...


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