The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY Chief U.S. District Judge
Wednesday, 22 February, 2012 02:01:54 PM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
This case is before the court for ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment (#55) filed by Defendant, John and Mary E. Kirby Hospital. Following careful consideration of the parties' arguments and the documents provided to the court, the Motion for Summary Judgment (#55) is GRANTED.
On July 12, 2010, Plaintiff, Jackie L. Hardwick, filed a Complaint (#1) against Defendant and Barbara Milton. Plaintiff alleged that she was hired by Defendant as a nursing assistant on August 5, 2007. Plaintiff alleged that, on October 14, 2008, she was transferred to Central Supply as a Purchasing Clerk, where she was supervised by Milton. Plaintiff alleged that she suffered a stroke on January 9, 2009, and was released to return to work on January 13, 2009. Plaintiff alleged that she began to have difficulties performing her job duties and suffered from "dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, and other symptoms." Plaintiff alleged that Defendant and Milton "refused in any way to accommodate [her] disability." Plaintiff also alleged that Milton engaged in a pattern of harassing behavior toward Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleged that she complained about the harassment in February 2009 and was terminated on March 18, 2009. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant was liable for discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and for retaliation in violation of the ADA. Plaintiff also claimed that Defendant and Milton were liable under Illinois law for intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation.
On April 6, 2011, this court entered an Order (#20). This court accepted two Reports and Recommendations (#18, #19) filed by Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal. This court therefore granted the Motion to Dismiss filed by Milton, and Milton was terminated as a party in this case. This court also granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's state law claims, without leave to file an amended complaint.
On May 4, 2011, Defendant filed a Motion to Compel (#22). Defendant set out a long list of Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding discovery and other matters. Defendant asked for an order compelling Plaintiff to properly supplement her answers to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories and provide all documents responsive to Defendant's First Set of Requests for Production, without objection, within seven days. On May 10, 2011, Defendant filed a Motion to Compel and Deem Facts Admitted (#24). Defendant stated that it served Plaintiff with its First Set of Requests for Admission on March 16, 2011, which was specifically tailored to address the allegations in Plaintiff's complaint. Defendant stated that Plaintiff's responses to the Requests were due no later than April 15, 2011. No responses were received by Defendant on or before April 15, 2011, and no extension of time to respond to the requests was sought by Plaintiff or granted by Defendant. Defendant stated that, on April 19, 2011, Plaintiff provided "responses" to Defendant's Requests but, in lieu of substantively responding to the Requests, Plaintiff answered each and every Request with a general, boilerplate denial. Defendant stated that, in addition, Plaintiff stated untimely and improper general objections. Defendant also stated that attempts were made to confer with Plaintiff regarding the insufficient and improper responses. Defendant asked for an order finding that all facts and matters included in its First Set of Requests for Admission were deemed admitted.
On June 2, 2011, Defendant was allowed to file its Answer (#33) to Plaintiff's Complaint. On June 9, 2010, Judge Bernthal entered an Order (#36) and granted Defendant's Motion to Compel. Judge Bernthal ordered Plaintiff to fully answer Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories and fully respond to Defendant's First Set of Requests for Production of Documents within 14 days. On June 10, 2011, Judge Bernthal entered a Order (#37) and granted the Motion to Deem Facts Admitted. Judge Bernthal noted that there had been a serious lack of progress in the discovery phase of this litigation. Judge Bernthal stated that "[t]o the frustration of the Defendant and now the Court, the lack of progress is principally the result of the failure of the Plaintiff to participate in the required discovery in a meaningful way." Judge Bernthal noted that Plaintiff acknowledged that the response to Defendant's First Set of Requests for Admission was due April 15, 2011. Judge Bernthal stated:
Plaintiff suggests that the rule does not mandate an order deeming matters admitted. In all candor, there may be cases where the Court would look for a way to avoid the harsh result permitted by the rule. This is not such a case. Given Plaintiff's approach to her discovery obligations, the harsh result is appropriate in this case.
On July 4, 2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Withdraw and Otherwise Amend Answers to the Defendant's Requests for Admission (#42). On August 19, 2011, Judge Bernthal entered an Order (#51) and denied Plaintiff's Motion.
On September 2, 2011, Plaintiff filed an Objection to Judge Bernthal's Order of August 19, 2011 (#52) with this court. Plaintiff argued that Judge Bernthal did not consider the applicable rule for withdrawing facts deemed admitted. She noted that Rule 36(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that "the court may permit withdrawal or amendment if it would promote the presentation of the merits of the action and if the court is not persuaded that it would prejudice the requesting party in maintaining or defending the action on the merits." Plaintiff argued that her request to withdraw and amend her answers clearly met the first standard of Rule 36(b), "as it would be impossible to bring an action on the merits were all of the facts deemed admitted left on the record." Plaintiff also argued that Defendant would not be prejudiced by allowing her to amend or withdraw the admitted facts. Plaintiff argued that "[a]lthough there was a brief delay in the response to admissions, that delay should not be seen as sufficient prejudice to forbid the Plaintiff from bringing her case on the merits."
On September 22, 2011, this court entered an Opinion (#53) and denied Plaintiff's Objection. This court stated that there was no dispute that Plaintiff did not file a timely response to Defendant's First Set of Requests for Admission. Therefore, all of the factual statements set out by Defendant were admitted by Plaintiff. This court also agreed with Judge Bernthal that Plaintiff had not presented an adequate basis for withdrawing her admissions. This court noted that Plaintiff had provided this court with no explanation for the failure to respond in a timely manner other than that her counsel had taken responsibility for the late response and errors in the pleadings and that she should not be prevented from having her case heard on the merits due to no fault of her own. This court agreed with Judge Bernthal that this was not an adequate explanation as to Plaintiff's failure to file a timely response to Defendant's Requests for Admission. This court also concluded that Plaintiff had not met her burden to show that permitting the withdrawal of the admissions "subserves the merits" because she did not provide any information showing that she had a meritorious claim which would be precluded by the admissions.
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
On December 16, 2011, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#55) based, to a large extent, on the facts Plaintiff admitted by failing to file a timely response to Defendant's Requests for Admission. By failing to timely respond, Plaintiff admitted the following facts:
1. [She] was placed on probationary status in October 2008 in conjunction with her transfer to the new Purchasing Clerk position by the Hospital.
2. The duties, responsibilities, and areas of competency for the Purchasing Clerk position were explained to her upon her transfer to the position, and that she fully understood and acknowledged those duties, responsibilities, and areas of competency.
3. [She] received one or more verbal or written warnings or otherwise was reprimanded in November 2008.
4. [She] received one or more verbal or written warnings or otherwise [was] reprimanded in December 2008.
5. [She] received one or more verbal or written warnings or otherwise [was] reprimanded in January 2009.
6. [She] received one or more verbal or written warnings or otherwise [was] reprimanded in February 2009.
7. [She] received one or more verbal or written warnings or otherwise [was] reprimanded in March 2009.
8. From October 2008 through March 2009, [Plaintiff] failed to perform the duties, responsibilities, and/or areas of competency for the ...