The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge
Counsel for named defendant The Home Depot*fn1 has filed its Answer and affirmative defenses ("ADs") to the employment discrimination Complaint filed against it by Juana Zamarron ("Zamarron"). This memorandum order is issued sua sponte because of some troublesome aspects of that responsive pleading.
To begin with, much of the Answer comprises assertions in this form in response to Zamarron's allegations:
Defendant denies the allegations [or sometimes "the remaining allegations"] contained in Paragraph -- of Plaintiff's Complaint for the reason that said allegations are not true.
In light of the extraordinarily detailed allegations by Zamarron, it is clear that such assertions by Home Depot are necessarily based on its having decided that the denials it has presumably received from its employees targeted by Zamarron are believable, while Zamarron's version is not. That is of course Home Depot's prerogative, but it frankly does not support a positive assertion as a corporate matter "that said allegations are not true"--Home Depot may believe that, but it does not know that. If Home Depot wishes to stake out that position, as it has a right to do, its assertions should be qualified by a statement that they are made on information and belief.
This is not just a technical matter. To give a few illustrative examples from the early part of the Answer:
1. Is it not true that Zamarron received more than one promotion while employed by Home Depot, as she alleges but the denial contained in Answer ¶7 negates?
2. Even if Home Depot has chosen to believe its employee Jake Wolbert's version of the event described in Complaint ¶9, how can it deny Zamarron's assertion there that she "was stunned and embarassed"?
3. In like manner, how can Home Depot deny the portion of Complaint ¶10 that Zamarron decided not to call Home Depot's "alert hotline," as she alleges?
4. It is clear that Home Depot is not in a position to deny the allegation in the second sentence of Complaint ¶11 in the objective good faith incumbent on pleaders under Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b).
This listing could of course go on, but the lesson should already be clear that Home Depot's counsel ought to go back to the drawing board to generate a more careful responsive pleading.
Next, Answer ¶15 states that the email referred to there "speaks for itself." That is not a permissible response--see App'x ¶3 to State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Riley, 199 F.R.D. 276, 278 (N.D. Ill. 2001).
To turn to Home Depot's ADs, several call for a further look. Here are some problematic aspects that this Court has noted:
1. AD 2 does not appear to reflect accurately the caselaw that can impose corporate responsibility where the asserted employment discrimination was inflicted by employees up ...