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Strychalski v. Baxter Healthcare Corporation

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

February 18, 2015

KIM STRYCHALSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
BAXTER HEALTHCARE CORPORATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ROBERT W. GETTLEMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Kim Strychalski sued her former employer, Baxter Healthcare Corporation, alleging that she was first terminated from employment and then rejected for re-hire based on her age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. ยง 621 et seq., and the Illinois Human Right Act ("IHRA").[1] Arguing that plaintiff was fired because she failed to ensure that defendant's response to a customer request for proposal was submitted timely, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment along with an L.R. 56.1(a)(1)(B) Statement of Material Fact as to which it contended there was no genuine issue of dispute and which entitled it to judgment. Plaintiff responded with a memorandum in opposition, supported by a 123 page L.R. 56.1(b)(3) response and a 27 page, 78 paragraph "Statement of Additional Facts that Require Denial of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment." Neither party's submissions complied with the letter or intent of L.R. 56. Both sides' submissions were overly long and argumentative, increasing the court's burden, rather than easing it. As a result, the court struck the pending motions. Strychalski v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 2014 WL 1154030 (N.D. Ill. March 20, 2014). In doing so, however, the court noted that at least as to the termination claim, the case "essentially boils down to a swearing contest between plaintiff and her manager Tracy Hogle (nee Novak)." Id. at *2.

Undeterred by the court's comments, but heeding its warnings, defendant sought and was granted leave to file a renewed motion for summary judgment (Doc. 87), this time supported by statements in full compliance with the local rule. Plaintiff's counsel, however, apparently cannot follow simple directions. Their filings continue to violate the local rule. A single example will suffice to demonstrate counsels' failures. Defendant's L.R. 56.1(a)(1)(3) Statement of Fact No. 11 states (record citations omitted):

In January 2008, Hogle completed a Performance Management Assessment ("PMA") evaluating Strychalski's job performance in 2007, and gave Strychalski a "Partially Meets" rating.

Plaintiff's response is as follows (record citations omitted):

Admitted in part and denied in part. Except to admit that in January 2008 Hogle completed a Performance Management Assessment ("PMA") for Strychalski and circled a "Partially Meets" rating, denied that the PMA's evaluation reflected a "partially meets" rating.
A. To an extent it is hard to reconcile what Hogle said about Strychalski in Hogle's performance review with Hogle's overall assessment.
B. In working with Strychalski through December 2007, Hogle did not have any difficulties with Strychalski's peformance.

Plaintiff's response fails to comply with the intent of the rule. It is undeniable that Hogle did in fact give plaintiff a "Partially Meets" rating. There is simply nothing to dispute and the fact should have been uncontested. Instead, plaintiff's answer contains argumentative statements that do not in any way contest the simple fact asserted. Plaintiff's entire L.R. 56.1 response is replete with similar failures, rendering it of little value in assessing the case.

Nonetheless, as discussed below, the court's review of the record reveals that nothing has changed since its original order. The case remains a swearing contest between plaintiff and Hogle. Therefore, summary judgment on plaintiff's termination claim is denied. In her response to the motion, plaintiff has withdrawn her failure to rehire claim.

FACTS

Plaintiff worked for defendant from 1976 to 2005 when her position was eliminated in a reduction in force. In 2007, when she was 52 years old, plaintiff applied for a sales supervisor position in defendant's Medication Delivery Division. The decision to hire plaintiff was made by Tracy Hogle, to whom plaintiff directly reported. Hogle selected plaintiff over a substantially younger candidate.

Despite her years of employment with defendant, plaintiff had no specific experience for the position for which she was hired. In her new position she was responsible for ensuring the development, implementation and maintenance of bids, contracts, pricing agreements and contract analysis for the medication delivery business. Part of her job was to work on responses to requests for proposals ("RFPs") for potential business submitted to defendant by current or potential customers for new sales contracts.

In January 2008, Hogle completed a Performance Management Assessment ("PMA") for plaintiff. That assessment contained a large number of very laudatory comments as well as a few criticisms and suggestions for improvement, particularly with accountability for results. Despite the large number of very complimentary comments, Hogle gave plaintiff a "Partially Meets" rating for 2007. In May 2008, defendant received an RFP from Apria for a contract to purchase products (the "Apria RFP"). The potential contract was worth at least $7 million in new business. Despite ...


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