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Ross v. California Casualty Indemnity Exchange

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 29, 2013

JAY R. ROSS, Plaintiff,


AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

On June 6, 2011, Plaintiff Jay B. Ross ("Ross" or "Plaintiff") filed a two-count Second Amended Complaint against Defendant California Casualty Auto and Home Insurance Company ("California Casualty" or "Defendant") alleging a common law breach of contract claim and an attorney's fee claim under the Illinois Insurance Code, 215 ILCS 5/155, based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendant's motion and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.[1]


I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 "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). Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) 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)). 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 because the Court will not consider any additional facts proposed in the nonmoving party's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) Response. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008); Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., L.L.C., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005).

In general, the purpose of Local Rule 56.1 statements and responses 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"). In sum, "[f]or litigants appearing in the Northern District of Illinois, the Rule 56.1 statement is a critical, and required, component of a litigant's response to a motion for summary judgment. The purpose of the local rule is to make the summary judgment process less burdensome on district courts, by requiring the parties to nail down the relevant facts and the way they propose to support them." Sojka v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., 686 F.3d 394, 398 (7th Cir. 2012). With these standards in mind, the Court turns to the relevant facts of this case.

II. Relevant Facts

Ross is the owner of residential property located at 940 W. Castlewood Terrace, Chicago, Illinois. (R. 79, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) California Casualty issued a homeowners policy of insurance to Ross under policy number XXXXXXXXXX that covered personal property. ( Id. ¶¶ 2, 3; R. 39, R. 85-4, Ex. B, Ins. Policy.) The premises covered by the property is Ross' home on Castlewood Terrace. ( Id. ¶ 4.) The personal property at issue involves Ross' collection of books and memorabilia. ( Id. ¶ 6.) Ross stores his collection - which includes approximately 10, 000 separate items - on bookshelves and in plastic bins around his home. ( Id. ¶¶ 8, 9.) Ross admits that he does not maintain any sort of organizational scheme for his collection, except for his books, which he organizes by general subject matter and sometimes by author. ( Id. ¶ 10.) Furthermore, Ross acknowledges that he did not keep receipts for items that he purchased for his collection or take photographs of his items until fairly recently. ( Id. ¶¶ 11, 12.) Prior to the incident underlying this lawsuit, Ross did not maintain an inventory or catalogue of his collection. ( Id. ¶ 13.)

Ross' home was protected by a functional ADT alarm system that secured each entrance to his home. ( Id. ¶ 14; R. 89, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt Add'l Facts ¶¶ 1, 3.) Only three people besides Ross knew the code for the alarm system - Mr. Goodnecht, Ross' houseguest; Mr. Southern, Ross' office manager; and Mr. Mandel, the executor of Ross' will. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 15; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 2.) Some of the windows in Ross' home also had alarm sensors and he had at least one motion detector. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 16, 17.) In addition, the doors to Ross' home had working deadlocks during the relevant time period, as well as sliding locks on all of the windows. ( Id. ¶ 20.) All but two of the windows in Ross' home had "burglar bars." ( Id. ¶ 19.) There were eight security cameras throughout Ross' home, although prior to this litigation, Ross experienced technical problems with his security camera system. ( Id. ¶ 18; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 5.)

At his October 17, 2011 deposition, Ross testified that on February 28, 2008, he discovered that several books, items of popular culture, and currency were missing from his home. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 26; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) Ross, however, also testified that he did not observe any signs of forcible entry into his home. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 27.) He reported the theft on March 23, 2010, and when the police responded to Ross' call, they did not observe any signs of forced entry during their visit. ( Id. ¶¶ 28, 29; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 7.) Further, Ross testified that he had reviewed the security videos and did not see anything suspicious. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 30.) Indeed, although Ross thought his domestic employee, Garry Stoutmire, may have taken his items, he did not see Mr. Stoutmire do anything other than his normal work on the security video. ( Id.; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 8.)

It is further undisputed that Ross originally claimed that the alleged theft involved 17 books and numerous items of collectible currency. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 31.) Ross, however, had only two receipts for three of the seventeen books he claimed were missing. ( Id. ¶ 32; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 12.) Other than these two receipts, Ross did not have any other documentation regarding his claimed items. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 33, 39, 46.) In addition, Ross did not have any photographs, photocopies, or videotapes of the missing items. ( Id. ¶ 34.)

After Ross initiated this lawsuit, he continued to add to the list of missing items, but also discovered that some of the missing items were actually in his home. ( Id. ¶¶ 44, 45, 47, 49, 51; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 10.) As of November 10, 2010, Ross was still attempting to determine what was missing and what was simply misplaced. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 49.) After finding certain items in his home, Ross provided Defendant - per Defendant's request - with a revised list that was on a California Casualty Homeowner's Loss Report form asking Ross to identify the date of purchase, place of purchase, and original cost of the items missing. ( Id. ¶ 57.) Ross admits that the blank spaces and his question marks in the columns requesting the date of purchase, place of purchase, and original cost on his Homeowner's Loss Report form were due to him not knowing the information requested. ( Id. ¶ 58; see also R. 76-2, Personal Property Loss Schedule, Ex. 5.) In fact, Ross admits that he has no information concerning the date of purchase of any of the missing items, can only identify the place of purchase for five items, and only knows the original cost for four items. ( Id. ¶ 59.)


Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). After "a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (quotation omitted). "A plaintiff must begin to meet this burden by submitting admissible, supporting evidence in response to a proper motion for summary judgment." ...

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