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Parker v. Four Seasons Hotels, Limited

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 31, 2014

DIANE PARKER, Plaintiff,
v.
FOUR SEASONS HOTELS, LIMITED, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Pro se Plaintiff Diane Parker ("Parker") was injured after a sliding glass bathroom door shattered on her while she was staying at a hotel owned and operated by Defendant Four Seasons Hotels, Limited ("Four Seasons"). Several motions are pending before the Court: Four Seasons' motion for summary judgment, (ECF No. 88); four separate motions to strike certain evidence Parker submitted in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, (ECF Nos. 119, 121, 123, and 125); and Four Seasons' motion for sanctions against Parker for allegedly making false statements and misrepresentations in her filings with this Court, (ECF No. 88). For the reasons explained below, Four Seasons' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. The motions to strike and the motion for sanctions are denied.

I. MOTIONS TO STRIKE

As an initial matter, Four Seasons has moved to strike Parker's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts, her Statement of Additional Facts, her affidavit in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, and the supporting affidavits of her father and sister. Motions to strike are disfavored and generally unnecessary since the parties are free to present arguments as to the adequacy or inadequacy of the evidence in their briefing on the underlying motion. Moreover, Local Rule 56.1 "includes its own enforcement provisions, making motions to strike [Local Rule] 56.1 statements or responses superfluous at best." Loeffel Steel Prods., Inc. v. Delta Brands, Inc., 379 F.Supp.2d 968, 971 n.1 (N.D. Ill. 2005). The Court has taken into account the various arguments raised in the motions to strike and is capable of determining which facts are relevant to the present motion and which facts are extraneous or improper. See, e.g., Jenkins v. Spaargaren, No. 09 C 3453, 2011 WL 1356757, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 7, 2011). Accordingly, each of the motions to strike is denied as moot.

II. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A. Background

On April 27, 2007, Parker checked in as a guest of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago ("Hotel"). Parker was assigned to Room 3627. The following day, while exiting the bathroom after taking a shower, Parker attempted to open a frosted sliding glass door separating the bathroom from the vanity area. As Parker slid open the door, it exploded suddenly and rained shards of glass onto her naked body causing her to suffer injuries.

Parker's sister, Cindy Schiavon ("Schiavon"), who also was staying at the Hotel at the time, called down to the front desk to request help. Although Schiavon asked specifically for assistance from a female employee, two male employees arrived at the room instead. Shortly thereafter, Joesph Gartin ("Gartin"), an engineer employed by the Hotel, arrived to investigate the incident. According to Schiavon's affidavit, Gartin immediately looked upwards towards the door's overhead track and stated that it "look[ed] like the stopper [had] moved again." Gartin went on to explain that the Hotel had been renovated recently and that "several" of the newly-installed sliding glass doors had exploded because the overhead track stoppers were not working properly. Gartin further stated that Parker's room was on the Hotel's "do not sell" list and suggested that Schiavon check the glass door in her own room.

On April 21, 2009, Parker brought suit for her injuries in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division. After years of discovery, Parker dismissed the case voluntarily and, on April 30, 2012, refiled the action in this Court. Although Parker's Amended Complaint does not specify particular Counts, a liberal reading of her pleadings permits the Court to infer the following causes of action: (1) premises liability, (2) common law fraud, (3) violation of the Illinois Safety Glazing Materials Act and the Chicago Municipal Code, (4) negligence in connection with the installation of the Hotel's sliding glass doors; (5) spoliation of evidence, and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress. Parker's brief in opposition to Four Seasons' motion for summary judgment does not indicate that she pursues other theories of liability, so the Court addresses only these six claims.

B. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [it] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is "genuine" if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. If the moving party satisfies its burden, the non-movant must present evidence sufficient to demonstrate that a genuine factual dispute exists. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). In doing so, the non-moving party "must do more than show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Sarver v. Experian Info. Sys., 390 F.3d 969, 970 (7th Cir. 2004). Rather, it must demonstrate "through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues for which the nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial." Knight v. Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463-64 (7th Cir. 2009).

C. Analysis

1. Premises Liability

In a premises liability action, the plaintiff has the burden of proving "(1) the existence of a condition that presents an unreasonable risk of harm to persons on the premises; (2) that the defendants knew, or should have known, that the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm; (3) that the defendants should have anticipated that individuals on the premises would fail to discover or recognize the danger or otherwise fail to protect themselves against it; (4) a negligent act or omission on the part of the defendant; (5) an injury suffered by the plaintiff; and (6) that the condition of the property was a proximate cause of the injury to the plaintiff." Mueller v. Phar-Mor, Inc., 784 N.E.2d 226, 231 (Ill.App.Ct. 2000). Under Illinois law, owners of property owe their invitees a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Reid v. Kohl's Dep't Stores, Inc., 545 F.3d 479, 481 (7th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). This duty includes an obligation to inspect and repair ...


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