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Ekufu v. Iberia Airlines

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 9, 2014

Thankgod Ekufu, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Iberia Airlines and Milton Uribe, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ELAINE BUCKLO, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Thankgod Ekufu, Loveth Ekufu, and Gladys Agbasi proceeding pro se, filed a complaint against Iberia Airlines and Milton Uribe, Iberian Airlines' station manager at O'Hare International Airport ("O'Hare"), for damages incurred when a bag Plaintiff Agbasi checked for an Iberia Airline's flight originating in Lagos, Nigeria arrived one week late to her final destination, O'Hare, and was missing some of its contents. Defendants moved for summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claims, or alternatively, to limit Plaintiffs' liability as prescribed by Article 22 (2) of the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (commonly known as "the Montreal Convention"), which governs this case. For the reasons that follow, I deny the motion in part and grant it in part.

I.

Local Rule 56.1

Defendants filed a statement of uncontested material facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1 (N.D. Ill.). [#31] In conjunction with their motion for summary judgment, Defendants included a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Summary Judgment." [#34] That notice explained the requirements of the Northern District of Illinois' Local Rules and warned Plaintiffs that a party's failure to controvert facts as set forth in the moving party's statement results in those facts being admitted.

Local Rule 56.1(b) requires a party opposing summary judgment to file:

(3) a concise response to the movant's statement that shall contain
(A) a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon, and
(B) a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.

L.R. 56.1(b).

Although pro se plaintiffs are entitled to lenient standards, compliance with the procedural rules is required. Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of the City of Chicago, 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004) ("[A] district court is entitled to decide the motion based on the factual record outlined in the [Local 56.1] statements." (internal citations omitted)). The Court will accept Plaintiffs' factual statements only to the extent that they could properly testify about the matters asserted. That is, this Court will not accept as fact any matters for which Plaintiffs have no personal knowledge. Fed.R.Evid. 602.

With this in mind, the Court views Defendants' Rule 56.1 statements supported by the record and not properly rebutted by Plaintiffs to be true and uncontested. The Court notes that some of Plaintiffs' proposed factual statements constitute argument or conclusory assertions. Where, however, Plaintiff has properly objected to Defendants' factual assertions with his own counter-factual assertions with record evidence to support them, the Court will consider those facts.

Facts

Plaintiff Agbasi was a passenger on Iberia Airlines ("Iberia") flight #3747 from Lagos, Nigeria to Madrid, Spain on January 17, 2012. In Madrid, Ms. Agbasi connected to Iberia flight #6275 and traveled to her final destination, O'Hare, on January 18, 2012. Plaintiff Agbasi checked two pieces of luggage at the outset of her journey in Nigeria. When she arrived at O'Hare, she found only one of her checked bags. Ultimately, her delayed bag was returned to her on January 26, 2012. Upon receiving her bag, Ms. Agbasi discovered that some of the items she had packed and checked were missing. The parties dispute the full list of missing items, though both agree that certain nutritional supplements and dried herbs and spices were among the missing contents. Plaintiff Agbasi contends that pieces of traditional Nigerian clothing and jewelry were also missing when her bag was ...


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