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Jill and Robert Webb, In Their Own Proper Persons, and As Parents and Next Friends of Their Minor Children v. Cbs Broadcasting

September 13, 2011


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


In their First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs Jill and Robert Webb, on their own and as parents and next friends of their minor children, allege Illinois common law claims of intrusion upon seclusion (Count I) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count II) against Defendant CBS Broadcasting, Inc. ("CBS") based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Prior to Plaintiffs filing the First Amended Complaint, Judge Wayne Andersen, the then-presiding judge, granted in part and denied in part CBS's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings on May 7, 2009.*fn2 On July 8, 2011, CBS filed the present motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(b). For the following reasons, the Court grants CBS's motion and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.


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). "The Rule is designed, in part, to aid the district court, 'which does not have the advantage of the parties' familiarity with the record and often cannot afford to spend the time combing the record to locate the relevant information,' in determining whether a trial is necessary." Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). The purpose of Local 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").

Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) specifically 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 requires the denial of summary judgment. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

Accordingly, pursuant to the Local Rules, the Court will not consider any additional facts proposed in the Webbs' Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response, but instead must rely on their Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) Statement of Additional Facts when making factual determinations. See id. at 643; 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). Also, many of the Webbs' responses "do not fairly meet the substance of the material facts asserted," and therefore, do not satisfy the requirements of Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). See Bordelon, 233 F.3d at 528; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). These insufficient responses include ¶¶ 30, 31, 32, 37, 38, 39, 40, 44, and 45. (See R. 275, Pls.' Resp. to Def.'s Stmt. Facts.)

II. Relevant Facts

Plaintiffs Jill and Robert Webb, who are citizens of Iowa, were present with their minor children at the Plainfield, Illinois home of Jill Webb's brother, Craig Stebic, on the day of the events giving rise to this lawsuit -- July 6, 2007. (R. 250, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) CBS is a corporation that owns and operates Chicago television station WBBM. (Id. ¶ 2.) Tracy Reardon is Craig Stebic's neighbor. (Id. ¶ 3.)

Craig Stebic and his wife, Lisa Stebic, were divorcing when Lisa disappeared from their Plainfield home on April 30, 2007. (Id. ¶ 6.) Lisa Stebic's disappearance and the investigation of her disappearance were the focus of wide-spread public attention. (Id. ¶ 7.) At some point in July 2007, local police authorities named Craig Stebic as a person of interest in their investigation of his wife's disappearance. (Id. ¶ 8.) Prior to July 6, 2007, law enforcement authorities closely monitored the Stebics' house by placing two video cameras on utility poles that focused on the Stebics' house and backyard and recorded activities in that area. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 45.)

Also prior to July 6, 2007, numerous news organizations dispatched reporters and videographers to the Stebics' home to record activities taking place there. (Id. ¶ 11.) One such reporter, who worked for Chicago's NBC station WMAQ, Amy Jacobson, personally made efforts to find out what happened to Lisa Stebic and quickly established a rapport with Jill and Robert Webb. (Id. ¶¶ 13, 14.) Indeed, prior to July 6, 2007, Jacobson had spoken with Craig Stebic and Jill Webb and had been to the Stebics' home. (Id. ¶ 14.) Jill Webb and Craig Stebic together telephoned Jacobson and invited her to visit the Stebics' home on Friday, July 6, 2007. (Id. ¶ 15.) Jacobson, who testified that she had otherwise planned to take her children to a community swimming club the morning of July 6, 2007, instead took her children to the Stebics' house, where she and her children, the Webbs and their children, and Craig Stebic proceeded to interact in and around the swimming pool in the Stebics' backyard. (Id. ¶ 16.) Jill Webb invited Jacobson to the Stebics' house for professional reasons, namely, the Webbs and Craig Stebic wanted to discuss Lisa Stebic's disappearance and Jacobson's investigation into it. (Id. ¶ 17.) Jacobson accepted their invitation and visited the Stebics' house in her capacity as a television news reporter covering the story. (Id.)

A community search for Lisa Stebic was planned for July 7, 2007. (Id. ¶ 20.) On July 6, 2007, Michael Puccinelli, a CBS reporter at Chicago television station WBBM, was assigned to prepare a news report on the July 7, 2007 search. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 22.) In the morning of July 6, 2007, Nathan DeLack, a CBS employee and videographer at WBBM, drove Puccinelli to Plainfield. (Id. ¶ 24.) Upon arriving in Plainfield, Puccinelli -- who hoped to interview a Stebic family member about the next day's community search for Lisa Stebic -- rang the bell at the Stebics' front door, but Robert Webb told him that the family did not wish to speak to him. (Id. ¶ 25.)

After Robert Webb turned Puccinelli away from the Stebic house, DeLack and Puccinelli drove around the corner to the home occupied by Reardon and William Alstrom, to whom Puccinelli had previously spoken. (Id. ¶ 36.) Alstrom invited Puccinelli into the house to talk. (Id. ¶ 37.) Puccinelli testified that from Reardon's home, he could see that people were gathered in the Stebics' backyard. (Id.) Puccinelli further testified that he was surprised to see that Craig Stebic had guests at his house the day before the search for his wife. (Id. ¶ 38.)

Thereafter, Puccinelli asked DeLack to videotape the events in the Stebics' backyard because he thought the events were newsworthy. (Id. ¶ 39.) Alstrom then gave DeLack and Puccinelli permission to bring the video camera -- which had a zoom function -- into the Alstrom/Reardon home and to set up the camera in front of one of the kitchen windows on the first floor. (Id. ¶¶ 40, 41.) In the subsequent videotape, Craig Stebic, Jacobson, the Webbs, and the children are seen around the Stebics' swimming pool, as well as passing through a sliding ...

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