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Fortier v. Terani Law Firm

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois

September 4, 2015

Todd Fortier, Plaintiff,
v.
Terani Law Firm, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CHARLES R. NORGLE, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Todd Fortier, presently a prisoner at the Dixon Correctional Center, brought this pro se diversity action alleging negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, fraud in the inducement of a contract and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud & Deceptive Business Practices Act. Presently before the Court is Defendants, Michael Terani and the Terani Law Firm's motion for summary judgment and several miscellaneous motions filed by Plaintiff.

Background

Consistent with the local rules, Defendants filed a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement of undisputed facts and served Plaintiff a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, which explains in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1.

Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires that the opposing party's response to the movant's statement of undisputed facts must respond to each numbered paragraph and include specific references to supporting materials for those statements that are disputed. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). In addition, the opposing party must submit their own statement of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment, including references to supporting materials to support the additional statement of additional facts. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C).

Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants' undisputed facts and he failed to submit his own statement of any additional facts that require denial of summary judgment. Instead, Plaintiff submitted a motion to deny or stay the motion for summary judgment or in the alternative to grant summary judgment in Plaintiff's favor. Plaintiff's "motion" does include Plaintiff's argument in opposition to Defendants' motion, Plaintiff's response to the multiple declarations submitted by Defendants, and copies of several exhibits Plaintiff relies upon in his opposition to the Defendants' motion.

Plaintiff's status as a pro se litigant does not excuse him from complying with Local Rule 56.1. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) ("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"); Coleman v. Goodwill Indus. of Se. Wis., Inc., 423 F.Appx. 642, 643 (7th Cir. 2011) ("Though courts are solicitous of pro se litigants, they may nonetheless require strict compliance with local rules."); Wilson v. Kautex, Inc., 371 F.Appx. 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2010) ("strictly enforcing Local Rule 56.1 was well within the district court's discretion, even though Wilson is a pro se litigant") (citations omitted); Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) ("even pro se litigants must follow rules of civil procedure"). Given Plaintiff's failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1(b), Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement are deemed admitted. See N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) ("All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party."); Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880-81, 884 (7th Cir. 2012); Parra v. Neal, 614 F.3d 635, 636 (7th Cir. 2010); Rao v. BP Prods. N. Am., Inc., 589 F.3d 389, 393 (7th Cir. 2009); Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643-44 (7th Cir. 2008) (affirming the district courts's refusal to consider plaintiff's Rule 56.1 response that did not comply with local rule); Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006); Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 943-44 (7th Cir. 2005); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 682-83 (7th Cir. 2003).

Based on the above, the pertinent facts are as follows:

Plaintiff was arrested in 2008 and charged with residential burglary. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 1.) Plaintiff hired attorney Patrick Fagan to represent him in the resulting state criminal case. ( Id., ¶ 2.) Fagan used the services of Juliet Yackel, a mitigation specialist' in his representation of Plaintiff. ( Id., ¶ 3.) Yackel's services were complete after she prepared a report for the state criminal court and attended a conference with the judge in that matter. ( Id., ¶ 4.) Plaintiff fired Fagan in early March 2011. ( Id., ¶ 5.)

Plaintiff hired the Terani Law Firm in early March 2011, to represent him in the state criminal matter. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 6.) Plaintiff executed a retainer agreement with the Terani Law Firm in early March 2011. ( Id., ¶ 7.) Plaintiff paid an initial retainer fee of $20, 000 to the Terani Law Firm. ( Id., ¶ 17.) Michael Terani assigned Irving Federman, an attorney from Illinois and licensed to practice law in Illinois to Plaintiff's state criminal matter. ( Id., ¶ 10.) Federman met and talked with Plaintiff and Plaintiff was aware that Federman was sent by the Terani Law Firm. ( Id., ¶¶ 11-12.)

In May 2011, while represented by Federman, Plaintiff pled guilty in his state criminal matter. (Defs.' 56.1(a)(3) Statement ¶ 22.) Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, both pro se and through counsel. ( Id., ¶ 24.) Plaintiff's attempts to withdraw his guilty plea were denied. ( Id., ¶ 25.)

Plaintiff's Allegations

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he retained the Terani Law Firm after a family member spoke to him about the law firm after the family member saw an advertisement for the firm. The family member contacted the Terani Law Firm and provided it with Plaintiff's contact information. On or about March 4, 2011, Thomas Edwards (an alleged employee of the Terani Law Firm) contacted Plaintiff and made several claims regarding himself and the Terani Law Firm that Plaintiff later learned were false. These statements were made to induce Plaintiff to retain the Terani Law Firm. On March 7, 2011, Plaintiff transferred $20, 000 into the Terani law firm account and Audrey Hazlett, an employee of the Terani Law Firm, transmitted a copy of the retainer agreement and medical release forms to a family member of the Plaintiff.

Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff attempted suicide by overdose. Plaintiff was taken to the Riverside Mental Institution. While at the Riverside Mental Institution, a family member brought the retainer agreement to Plaintiff for his signatures. Plaintiff signed the retainer agreement while at the Riverside Mental Institute. All Defendants were aware that Plaintiff was blind in one eye and visually impaired ...


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