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Day v. River Forest School District 90

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

April 9, 2014

MICHAEL C. DAY, Plaintiff,
v.
RIVER FOREST SCHOOL DISTRICT 90 and THOMAS HAGERMAN, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

SUSAN E. COX, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the defendants' motion for sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 ("Rule 11") [dkt. 260]. The defendants seek sanctions on the bases that Mr. Day filed a frivolous complaint and improperly continued to litigate this matter after it was clear that his claims lacked factual support. For the reasons stated below, the Court recommends that the district judge grant the motion and sanction Mr. Day in the amount of $250.00 payable to the defendants.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Day is a well-known pro se litigant in the Northern District of Illinois. At the time that Mr. Day filed the present case, Mr. Day had filed sixteen other cases pro se in this District. Mr. Day filed the present case pro se on July 15, 2010, alleging that he was not hired by the defendants as a substitute teacher because he was black. Although Mr. Day's complaint contained several legal theories for recovery, District Court Judge Blanche Manning dismissed all of Mr. Day's claims except for his Section 1983 and Title VII claims.[1] The defendants filed a series of motions to dismiss, but these claims survived, and the defendants moved for summary judgment based on Mr. Day's third amended complaint.[2]

The third amended complaint alleged that the defendants had a policy of not hiring black substitute teachers and that the Superintendent explicitly told Board Members and other decision makers not to hire certain individuals because they were black.[3] Mr. Day accused the defendants of having "hidden documents" regarding the number of substitute teachers it hired during various school years.[4] Mr. Day also asserted that he had the same or better qualifications than those substitute teachers that were actually hired.[5]

Despite these allegations, Mr. Day was unable to identify any persons or documents to support his claims in his Rule 26(a) statement. When asked to identify persons with knowledge Mr. Day responded that he was unable to remember names; or the persons were not known. On October 13, 2011, Chief Judge James F. Holderman entered an order, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Northern District of Illinois finding that Mr. Day had filed seventeen cases in the Northern District many of which had been dismissed for reasons such as lack of jurisdiction, no claim, want of prosecution, defendant's motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment. The Executive Committee Order required Mr. Day to receive leave from the Executive Committee to file any further cases.[6]

After answering Mr. Day's third amended complaint, the defendants sought to take Mr. Day's deposition. Mr. Day failed to appear at two scheduled depositions and the defendants moved to compel it. At a November 16, 2011 status hearing Mr. Day agreed to attend his deposition which was rescheduled to December 6, 2011, and to produce any documents he had and were not subject to privilege. The Court noted that Mr. Day failed to produce any documents or the names of witnesses to date.[7] On November 28, 2011, the defendants sent Mr. Day a letter notifying him that if he does not dismiss his lawsuit, they would seek Rule 11 sanctions.[8] The defendants claimed that Mr. Day's lawsuit was frivolous. They pointed to the fact that there was still no documentation or other evidence that had been produced to support his claims.

On December 6, 2011, Mr. Day's deposition was taken. Mr. Day testified that he did not talk to anyone about his application for a substitute teacher; acknowledged that his teaching certificate was expired at the time he applied; and could not remember if he had a valid teaching certificate. Mr. Day explained that the basis for the allegations in his third amended complaint was that the defendants had "few black teachers and I lived next to a large percent of black persons."[9] He also stated that he was "pretty sure" that he was more qualified than the other substitute teachers that were hired.[10] Mr. Day did not explain how he came to this conclusion and in fact stated that he did not have the exact information regarding anyone else's qualifications. Mr. Day could not name any specific person that was treated more favorably than him, white or black. When questioned about his allegations regarding statements made by the Superintendent, Mr. Day could not identify any statements, specifically or generally.[11]

After Mr. Day's deposition was taken, this Court allowed Mr. Day to complete his own discovery. By February 8, 2012, the defendants had provided Mr. Day with its records for the school years at issue and this Court found that their production was sufficient, despite Mr. Day's objections.[12]

On October 2, 2012, the defendants filed their motion for summary judgment.[13] Even after the motion for summary judgment was filed, Mr. Day continued to file motions to address the rulings on the discovery issues that he disagreed with.[14] These motions were denied.[15] Briefing on the motion for summary judgment was completed by February 7, 2013 and the case was reassigned to District Judge Ronald A. Guzmán.

On March 19, 2013, Judge Guzmán entered a memorandum opinion and order granting summary judgment to the defendants.[16] Judge Guzmán held that there was not genuine issue of fact because Mr. Day was unable to establish that he was qualified for the position. Judge Guzmán pointed to Mr. Day's failure to timely provide the defendants with a copy of his teaching certificate and that the certificate that was ultimately provided was expired. The district court rejected Mr. Day's argument that the defendants could have and should have determined on its own whether he had a valid teaching certificate.[17]

In addition to failing to show that he was qualified for the position, Judge Guzmán also found that Mr. Day failed to show that the substitute teaching positions he sought were filled by non-African-Americans. Judge Guzmán noted that Mr. Day did identify non-African-Americans who were hired, but failed to articulate what positions they were hired for or how their qualifications compared to his own. Judge Guzmán concluded that Mr. Day's allegations and arguments were conclusory and not sufficient to avoid summary judgment.[18]

After summary judgment was entered, Mr. Day filed a motion to reconsider and a motion to file a fourth amended complaint. Judge Guzmán ordered a briefing schedule on the motion to reconsider and Mr. Day's reply brief was due by May 20, 2013.[19] Mr. Day failed to timely reply and Judge Guzmán entered an order denying the motion on May 23, 2013.[20] Mr. Day then filed his reply after the order was entered.[21] After his motion to reconsider was denied, Mr. Day filed three notices of appeal of Judge Guzmán's summary judgment order and motion to reconsider order and orders related to discovery.[22] On December 4, 2013, all of Mr. Day's appeals were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, due to his failure to file them in a timely manner.[23]

On December 18, 2013, the defendants filed the present motion for sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 ...


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