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Sondra Cartwright v. City of Chicago

December 17, 2010

SONDRA CARTWRIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF CHICAGO, CHICAGO POLICE ) OFFICERS ALVIN JONES, STAR 19462, LAMONICA LEWIS, STAR 16172, ) DOUGLAS NICHOLS JR., STAR 12415, AND RONALD WATTS, STAR 2640, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George W. Lindberg

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff filed this action on July 17, 2009 against the City of Chicago and Chicago police officers Alvin Jones, Lamonica Lewis, Douglas Nichols, Jr., and Ronald Watts. Before the Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.

As an initial matter, the Court considers defendants' argument that plaintiff's pro se summary judgment filings do not comply with Local Rule 56.1 and therefore, that defendants' statements of fact should be deemed admitted. "[P]ro se litigants are not held to the stringent standards of formally trained attorney, and their pleadings are to be liberally construed." Jamison-Bey v. Thieret, 867 F.2d 1046, 1047 (7th Cir. 1989). However, the Court is not "obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes." See Greer v. Bd. of Educ., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). Along with their motion for summary judgment, defendants filed and served on plaintiff the "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" that is required by Local Rule 56.2. That Notice explained the requirements of Local Rule 56.1, plaintiff's obligations in responding to defendants' motion, and the consequences of failing to do so.

Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) requires a party responding to a motion for summary judgment to file "a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement." The non-moving party must "admit or deny each factual statement proffered by the defendant and . . . designate with specificity and particularity those material facts believed to establish a genuine dispute for trial." Greer, 267 F.3d at 727. Where there is any disagreement with the moving party's statement, the response must include "specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon . . . ." LR 56.1(b)(3)(B). If the response fails to properly controvert a material fact in compliance with this rule, the fact will be deemed admitted. LR 56.1(b)(3)(C).

In addition, if the party responding to the motion for summary judgment wishes the Court to consider any additional facts, those additional facts must be presented in a "statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs." LR 56.1(b)(3)(C). As with the response to the movant's facts, the additional facts must be supported by "references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Id.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court may only consider evidence that would be admissible at trial. See Woods v. City of Chicago, 234 F.3d 979, 988 (7th Cir. 2000). Thus, witness statements must be presented in the form of deposition testimony, a sworn affidavit, or a declaration made under penalty of perjury. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Pfeil v. Rogers, 757 F.2d 850, 859-60 (7th Cir. 1985); 28 U.S.C. § 1746. The Notice to Pro Se Litigants that defendants served on plaintiff specifically warns of this requirement:

You may rely upon your own declaration or the declarations of other witnesses. A declaration is a signed statement by a witness. The declaration must end with the following phrase: "I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct," and must be dated.

The Court reiterated this requirement in a September 1, 2010 order granting plaintiff's motion to include two witness statements in her response to the motion for summary judgment, when it stated: "As long as these statements are dated and signed under penalty of perjury, they can be submitted in these summary judgment proceedings."*fn1

Plaintiff's response to the motion for summary judgment consists of:

* Plaintiff's responses to defendants' statements of fact, in which plaintiff indicates whether she agrees or disagrees with defendants' statements, and offers argument and her own version of some of the events;

* Plaintiff's unsworn "Narrative";

* Portions of transcripts of the testimony of Mister Lucky Pearson,*fn2 defendant Alvin Jones, and defendant Lamonica Lewis;

* A portion of defendant Ronald Watts' declaration;

* A portion of a 2005 Office of Professional Standards ...


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