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Petrovic v. Enterprise Leasing Company of Chicago, LLC

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

February 11, 2015

DAVID PETROVIC, Plaintiff,
v.
ENTERPRISE LEASING COMPANY OF CHICAGO, LLC, and HANS USLAR, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

On December 20, 2013, Plaintiff David Petrovic, by counsel, filed a three-count Second Amended Complaint against Defendants Enterprise Leasing Company of Chicago, LLC ("Enterprise") and Hans Uslar ("Uslar"), an Enterprise Branch Manager, alleging a reverse race discrimination claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981 in the context of a retail transaction (Count I), a state law conversion claim that the Court later dismissed (Count II), and a claim for attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 (Count III). After the Court granted Plaintiff's second appointed counsel's request to withdraw on October 2, 2014, Defendants filed the present motion for summary judgment brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) as to the only remaining claim in this lawsuit, namely, Plaintiff's § 1981 reverse discrimination claim.[1] For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

Because Petrovic has been proceeding pro se since October 2, 2014, Defendants served him with a "Notice to Pro Se Litigant Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment" as required by Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.2. The notice explains the consequences of failing to properly respond to a motion for summary judgment and statement of material facts under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and 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. See Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008).

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"). "When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion." Cracco, 559 F.3d at 632; see also Frey Corp. v. City of Peoria, Ill., 735 F.3d 505, 513 (7th Cir. 2013).

Although courts must construe pro se pleadings liberally, see Ambrose v. Roeckeman, 749 F.3d 615, 618 (7th Cir. 2014), a plaintiff's pro se status does not absolve him from complying with the federal and local procedural rules. See Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 2008); Greer v. Board of Ed. of City of Chicago, 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). Specifically as the Supreme Court instructs, "we have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel." McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113, 113 S.Ct. 1980, 124 L.Ed.2d 21 (1993).

In response to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Facts, Petrovic did not file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response, therefore, Defendants' facts are deemed as admitted. See Perez v. Thorntons, Inc., 731 F.3d 699, 712 (7th Cir. 2013). Instead, Petrovic presents statements of "disputable facts" and "undisputed material facts, " along with numerous documents filed as exhibits. The vast majority of Petrovic's factual statements are not supported by citations to the record. When Petrovic does cite to the record, the citations do not support the assertions he makes in his factual statements. In addition, many of Petrovic's facts are actually legal arguments. Although, it is well-established that district courts need not scour the record to search of material factual disputes, see Diadenko v. Folino, 741 F.3d 751, 757 (7th Cir. 2013), the Court carefully reviewed all of the exhibits both parties presented in support of their factual statements.

II. Relevant Facts

A. Procedural Background

On October 30, 2012, Petrovic filed a pro se Complaint that the Court dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) on November 5, 2012. Petrovic then appealed, and on May 9, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit remanded Petrovic's reverse race discrimination claim brought under § 1981, but rejected his public-accommodation claims brought pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12131, et seq. On remand, the Court assigned counsel on June 6, 2013, who later withdrew, and on January 8, 2014, the Court assigned replacement counsel. On October 2, 2014, the Court granted replacement counsel's request to withdraw and declined to assign counsel for Petrovic.

B. Factual Background

Defendant Enterprise Leasing Company of Chicago, LLC ("Enterprise") rents automobiles to individuals and businesses through its various branches in the Chicago area. (R. 109, Defs.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1; R. 135, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) In October 2008, Defendant Hans Uslar, who is Caucasian, was the Branch Manager of the Enterprise location on Skokie Boulevard in Northbrook, Illinois ("Northbrook Branch"). (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 1; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) Plaintiff David Petrovic, who is Caucasian, is a United States citizen temporarily residing in Thailand. (Defs.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 2; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 2.) On ...


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