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Lewis v. Dominick's Finer Foods, LLC

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

May 5, 2015

RICHARD D. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
DOMINICK'S FINER FOODS, LLC, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

Before the Court are both parties' Motions for Summary Judgment [ECF Nos. 93 & 97], and Defendant Dominick's Finer Foods, LLC's ("Dominick's") Motion to Strike Plaintiff Richard Lewis' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 101]. For the reasons stated herein, Dominick's Motion to Strike Lewis' ("Lewis") Motion for Summary Judgment is granted, Lewis' Motion for Summary Judgment is stricken, and Dominick's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from Dominick's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Facts. Because, as discussed more thoroughly below, Lewis failed to respond properly to Dominick's Rule 56.1 Statement, the Court deems Dominick's facts as admitted. Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009).

This case arises out of Dominick's decision to suspend Lewis, who worked for Dominick's as a meat cutter from 1985 to December 2013. While Lewis was employed, he was subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement between Dominick's and his union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. He was also subject to the polices contained in Dominick's employee handbook, one of which provided that one ground for discipline, including termination, was the "[f]ailure to report to work without a good reason and without personally notifying the store manager or designated person in charge as soon as practicable prior to the start of the shift."

The problem in this case started on August 22, 2011, when Lewis was arrested and charged with first degree murder. In the time between when Lewis was arrested and when he was released on bond, Lewis missed work and did not personally contact Dominick's regarding his absence. Once out on bond, Lewis met with Dominick's and two Union representatives to discuss his absence from work. Lewis averred that he was able and willing to return to work while on bond, but when Dominick's asked about why he was absent, Lewis would not reveal any information other than the fact that he was incarcerated. Consequently, Dominick's suspended Lewis without pay.

Following Lewis' suspension, the Union filed a grievance with Dominick's on Lewis' behalf. Lewis did not request this action; rather, the Union filed the grievance on its own pursuant to its obligation to represent Lewis under the bargaining agreement. The grievance sought immediate reinstatement and for Lewis to be made whole, and when Dominick's failed to respond immediately, the Union filed another grievance.

Dominick's eventually responded to and denied the grievances, notifying both Lewis and the Union that Lewis would remain suspended "until such time as the Company received sufficient information regarding [Lewis' arrest] to complete its investigation and arrive at a final decision regarding his employment." (Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt., ECF No. 96 ¶ 38). Undeterred, Lewis still refused to share with Dominick's the facts underlying his arrest.

The Union responded to Dominick's decision by filing a third grievance, again unprompted by Lewis. Dominick's denied the third grievance for the same reason it denied the first two - its inability to obtain information "relating to [Lewis'] involvement in the fatal shooting that led to him being indicted on several counts of murder in the first degree." (Id. ¶¶ 44-46). The Union then filed a fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh grievance. The second verse was the same as the first, Dominick's rejected each grievance and kept Lewis suspended for the same reasons stated above.

Shortly after the Union filed its seventh grievance, Lewis filed this lawsuit, alleging that Dominick's violated § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (the "LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185. The Court initially dismissed Lewis' Complaint because he failed to allege that the Union breached its duty of fair representation, which is a prerequisite to suing an employer under the LMRA. Yeftich v. Navistar, Inc., 722 F.3d 911, 914 (7th Cir. 2013). Lewis then amended his Complaint to allege such a breach, and his Amended Complaint survived Dominick's Motion to Dismiss.

Both parties have moved for summary judgment, but for Lewis, this is not his first rodeo. Lewis has moved for summary judgment in this case several times, with each motion being deficient in some regard. Most recently, the Court denied Lewis' motion without prejudice for failing to comply with Local Rule 56.1. The only part of Lewis' prior motion that complied with the local rules was that his facts were numbered. Beyond that, the facts did not contain citations to the record, and Lewis' memorandum in support of his motion, which he titled "Proposed Conclusions of Law, " did not cite to his statement of facts and did not explain how the Court should apply the various cases he cited. Dominick's argues that Lewis' current Motion again fails to comply with the local rules; thus, Dominick's has moved to strike Lewis' Motion for Summary Judgment in addition to filing its own Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). Material facts are those that affect the outcome of the lawsuit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. The moving party may meet its burden by showing "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the non-moving party must demonstrate with evidence "that a triable issue of fact remains on issues for which [it] bears the burden of proof." Knight v. Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463-64 (7th Cir. 2009).

The judge's role at summary judgment is not to make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. Washington v. Haupert, 481 F.3d 543, 550 (7th Cir. 2007). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court construes all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving ...


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