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Carol Gilles v. Pleasant Hill Elementary School District #69

October 20, 2011

CAROL GILLES, PLAINTIFF
v.
PLEASANT HILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT #69, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Gorman United States Magistrate Judge

E-FILED

Thursday, 20 October, 2011 03:40:41 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER and OPINION

The parties have consented to have this case heard to judgment by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and the District Judge has referred the case to me. Now before the Court is the Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc.#29). As stated herein, the motion is GRANTED.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff in this matter is proceeding pro se, so her pleadings are entitled to more latitude than are those prepared by an attorney. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). Nonetheless, she has no "general license to disregard clearly communicated court orders," Downs v. Westphal, 78 F.3d 1252, 1257 (7th Cir.1996), Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir.2008) or to refuse to comply with procedural requirements, Anderson v. Hardman, 241 F.3d 544, 545-46 (7th Cir.2001). Pro se plaintiffs must follow procedural rules and comply with court orders. McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993); Gleash v. Yuswak, 308 F.3d 758, 761 (7th Cir.2002). Their pleadings must present "cogent arguments," rather than just "generalized assertions," and supporting authorities are required. See, Anderson v. Hardman, 241 F.3d 544, 545 (7th Cir. 2001).

The Local Rules of this court specify the form and content for all motions for summary judgment and responses and replies thereto. See, Local Rule CDIL 7.1D. The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly put their imprimatur on strict enforcement of local rules, sustaining 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. See, Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir.1994) (collecting cases). The factual statements required by such local rules "are not merely superfluous abstracts of the evidence. Rather, they are intended to alert the court to precisely what factual questions are in dispute and point the court to the specific evidence in the record that supports a party's position on each of these questions. They are, in short, roadmaps, and without them the court should not have to proceed further, regardless of how readily it might be able to distill the relevant information from the record on its own." See, e.g., Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, 896 F.2d at 1102-03; Schulz v. Serfilco, Ltd., 965 F.2d 516, 519 (7th Cir.1992).

Similarly, where the plaintiff failed to controvert the factual averments set forth in the defendants' own statements, to set forth the plaintiff's independent factual representations, or to point the court to the evidence in the record that supports the plaintiff's position on the disputed issues she has identified, summary judgment was found proper. Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 922 (7th Cir.1994).

As the Seventh Circuit has explained, "[D]istrict courts are not obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes and may adopt local rules reasonably designed to streamline the resolution of summary judgment motions." Herman v. City of Chicago, 870 F.2d 400, 404 (7th Cir.1989). See also, Bell, Boyd & Lloyd v. Tapy, 896 F.2d 1101, 1103- 04 (7th Cir.1990); L.S. Heath & Son, Inc. v. AT & T Info. Sys., Inc., 9 F.3d 561, 567 (7th Cir.1993).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On April 29, 2011, Defendant filed its motion for summary judgment in this suit brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This motion consists of an Introduction, 39 numbered paragraphs of Undisputed Facts, and 8 pages of Argument, setting forth the factual and legal bases for the motion. It argues for judgment on the following grounds: that Plaintiff's claims are barred by judicial estoppel; that her claims are moot because she has no cognizable damages; that discharge of the Plaintiff was within the Board's discretion; that there was no discrimination against Plaintiff; and that the basis for her discharge was not pretext but was legitimate and non-discriminatory.

Plaintiff received from the Clerk of this Court a Notice (Doc.#30) that the summary judgment motion had been filed. This Notice is sent by this Court to a pro se party whenever a dispositive motion has been filed. It explains the pro se party's obligation to respond in compliance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Local Rule 7.1D. The Notice states, "Your response must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. If you do not submit affidavits or other documentary evidence contradicting the defendants' assertions, the defendants' statement of facts will be accepted as true for purposes of summary judgment."

On May 17, Plaintiff filed her response. It consisted of 30 pages of rambling, disorganized, stream-of-consciousness in defense of her case. It did not respond directly to either the facts or the law on which Defendant had relied. Defendant moved to strike that response, and the Court granted the motion, finding her response "incomplete, inconsistent, and lacking citation to admissible evidence". Her "narrative argument" was criticized for its lack of coherence. In its Order, the Court very carefully identified the ways in which her response was deficient. She was cautioned that she could not submit or rely on evidence that had not been produced during discovery and that she had to provide citations to admissible evidence (and provide that evidence to the Court) if she contested Defendant's statement of undisputed fact. Finally, the Order reminded her that she must comport with the form and content set forth in Local Rule 7.1D, which was briefly explained to her. She was given leave to file an amended Response.

A second response was filed on June 17. That response was 147 pages long. It included a paragraph-by-paragraph response to the Defendant's statement of undisputed facts, but it was entirely without citation to the record. The remainder of her response, consisted largely of unfocused narrative. It failed to address the legal arguments made by Defendant in its motion. The Court struck that response. In addition, the Court directed the Clerk to send her a copy of this District's Local Rule 7.1D, which the Court believed would provide her with guidance as to what was expected n her response. She was given one additional opportunity to file a proper response. The Order very clearly directed Plaintiff to file a response that complied with the Order and with Local Rule 7.1D. She was cautioned that the Court would not consider a response that was not "substantially in compliance" with the Order.

That Response has now been filed. In its Reply, Defendant asserts once again that the Response falls far short of what was expected.

Plaintiff's 20 page response consists of the following:

1. a 2 page Introduction,

2. a 3 paragraph Section I that appears to be an explanation of 3 exhibits on which she relies, and a comment about a witness she intends to call.

3. a 4 paragraph Section II that is titled Additional Material Facts, which consists of a description of 4 ...


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