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Cuttill v. Potter

October 20, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Bernthal U.S. Magistrate Judge


In December 2008, Plaintiff Lonnie Cuttill, acting pro se, filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis with copy of Complaint (#1), against Defendant John Potter, Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service. In February 2009, Plaintiff filed Amended Complaint 08-2296 (#16), as a Pro Se Complaint Against Employment Retaliation, Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-16. Federal jurisdiction is based on federal question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The parties have consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge.

In May 2010, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#58). In July 2010, Plaintiff filed Plaintiff's Response to Defendants [sic] Motion for Summary of Judgment [sic] (#73). After reviewing the parties' pleadings, memoranda, and evidence, this Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (#58).

I. Legal Standard

The Court will grant summary judgment "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). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must decide, based on admissible evidence, whether any material factual dispute exists that requires a trial. Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing that no such issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

The Court must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). However, the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; rather, he must go beyond the pleadings and support his contentions with proper documentary evidence. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. Because the purpose of summary judgment is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims, the nonmoving party must respond to the motion with evidence setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)(2); Albiero v. City of Kankakee, 246 F.3d 927, 932 (7th Cir. 2001). To successfully oppose a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must do more than raise a "metaphysical doubt" as to the material facts, and instead must present definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion. Wolf v. Nw. Ind. Symphony Soc'y, 250 F.3d 1136, 1141 (7th Cir. 2001); Albiero, 246 F.3d at 932.

The Court is cognizant of its special obligation with respect to a pro se litigant. See Caruth v. Pinkney, 683 F.2d 1044, 1050 (7th Cir. 1982). The Seventh Circuit has defined a court's role as insuring that the claims of a pro se litigant are given "fair and meaningful consideration." Madyun v. Thompson, 657 F.2d 868, 876 (7th Cir. 1981). Furthermore, a pro se plaintiff is entitled to a great deal of latitude where procedural requirements are concerned. When responding to a summary judgment motion, a pro se plaintiff need not comply with the specific requirements described in Rule 7.1(D) of the Local Rules for the Central District of Illinois (see CDIL-LR 7.1(D)(6)). Nevertheless, to avoid summary judgment, he must respond with admissible evidence setting forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Michael v. St. Joseph Cnty., 259 F.3d 842, 845 (7th Cir. 2001).

II. Preliminary Issue

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (#16) states his claims as follows:

Retaliation for participation in a protected activity (EEO). I am a disabled employee that has participated in the EEO process since May 2007. During this time, supervisor Kyle Goodwin has denied my leave requests to help my three active duty family members prior to and upon their return from deployments. I have been the recipient of Privacy Act violations, repeated settlement violations, had a breech [sic] of confidentiality and had local management delay providing me time with me [sic] EEO representative on numerous occasions. I have three (3) grievance settlements of which have it admitted that management did violate my rights and agreed to cease and desist; yet, in continues.

(Am. Compl. #16, p. 2.)

These claims substantially overlap with two other cases filed by Plaintiff. These cases are Cuttill v. Potter [08-2199] (hereinafter "No. 08-2199") and Cuttill v. Potter [09-2007]. Plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate this present case with No. 08-2199 (#3). On March 12, 2009, this Court entered an order denying Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint 08-2296 and Consolidate the Amended #08-2296 with Case #08-2199 as moot; Plaintiff had subsequently filed a motion to amend the complaint that had been granted. These cases were consolidated for the purposes of discovery.

This has caused some confusion for Plaintiff. Defendant asserts that the only issue in this case is whether in response to Plaintiff's requests to see his EEO representative, the meeting unreasonably did not occur in a timely manner. (#58, p. 3.) Defendant's statement of undisputed facts is focused on this single issue. Plaintiff responds that Defendant has misdirected his argument by focusing solely on this issue, while not addressing Plaintiff's claims that were the basis of No. 08-2296, namely Plaintiff's discrimination and retaliation claims related to denial of a promotion and subsequent demotion after filing an EEO Complaint. (#73, p. 3.) As such, Plaintiff states: "Defendant has based his entire argument for a summary judgment upon a legal dispute founded on EEOC regulations of which is not an issue filed within this case." (#73, p. 3.) However, at Plaintiff's deposition, Defendant twice asked Plaintiff to confirm that this case, No. 08-2296, dealt with the delay in seeing his EEO representative, and Plaintiff twice agreed. (Pl.'s Dep. #59, pp. 7, 24.)

Plaintiff's other claims, regarding the Privacy Act and breach of confidentiality, are not fully developed. Plaintiff abandoned these arguments in all stages of litigation following the Amended Complaint (#16). This Court will only address arguments that are supported by relevant authority and reasoning. Mere assertions do not sufficiently raise the issue to merit the Court's consideration. United States v. Giovannetti, 919 F.2d 1223, 1230 (7th Cir. 1990). Furthermore, though Plaintiff's response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment focuses on Plaintiff's retaliation claim pertaining to his demotion, the Court has already addressed this issue in No. 08-2199, and it will not ...

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