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Hirmiz v. Travelodge Hotel Corp.

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

September 27, 2016

GEORGE D. HIRMIZ, Plaintiff,


          AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge

         Pro se Plaintiff George D. Hirmiz[1] alleges that his former employer, Defendant Travelodge Hotel Corporation, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and retaliated against him by terminating his employment in violation of Illinois common law. Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) and Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendant's motion and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.


         I. Northern District of Illinois Local Rule 56.1

         Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, Defendant 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. Ohio Nat'l Life Assur. Corp. v. Davis, 803 F.3d 904, 906 (7th Cir. 2015).

         “The purpose of Rule 56.1 is to have the litigants present to the district court a clear, concise list of material facts that are central to the summary judgment determination. It is the litigants' duty to clearly identify material facts in dispute and provide the admissible evidence that tends to prove or disprove the proffered fact.” Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 219 (7th Cir. 2015); see also Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d 895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011). Local Rule 56.1(a) “requires the party moving for summary judgment to file and serve a ‘statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to a judgment as a matter of law.'” Curtis, 807 F.3d at 218 (citation omitted). “The non-moving party must file a response to the moving party's statement, and, in the case of any disagreement, cite ‘specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.'” Petty v. Chicago, 754 F.3d 415, 420 (7th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted); see also L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(A). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) “requires specifically that a litigant seeking to oppose a motion for summary judgment file a response that contains a separate ‘statement ... of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment.'” Sojka v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., 686 F.3d 394, 398 (7th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted).

         Although courts construe pro se pleadings liberally, see Thomas v. Williams, 822 F.3d 378, 385 (7th Cir. 2016), a plaintiff's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with the federal and local procedural rules. See Collins v. Illinois, 554 F.3d 693, 697 (7th Cir. 2009) (“even pro se litigants must follow procedural rules”). 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). Because Plaintiff has failed to properly respond to Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, the Court accepts Defendant's facts as true. See Zoretic v. Darge, __F.3d__, 2016 WL 4177213, at *1 (7th Cir. Aug. 8, 2016); Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013).

         II. Relevant Facts

         Defendant operates New Harrison Hotel Corp., d/b/a Travelodge Hotel Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. (R. 56, Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) On May 8, 2007, Defendant hired Plaintiff as a night auditor/front desk agent. (Id. ¶ 2.) During the relevant time period, Plaintiff's supervisors were the hotel's front desk manager, Darren Andrews, and the general manager, Hermize Youkhamna. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 4.) On February 24, 2015, Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment for sleeping on the job, abandoning his post, failing to report details of an incident where a guest was hurt during a fight, failing to contact police and paramedics at the time of the incident, failing to use the proper incident reporting procedure, and insubordination. (Id. ¶ 23.)

         Pursuant to its employment handbook, Defendant has a four-step progressive discipline policy that starts with a verbal warning, leads to a written warning, followed by suspension or demotion, and concludes with termination. (Id. ¶ 5.) On August 26, 2010, Defendant verbally warned Plaintiff about the improper processing of unverified credit card charges. (Id. ¶ 6.) Thereafter, on October 23, 2012, Defendant warned Plaintiff in writing about three separate instances where he mishandled reservations. (Id. ¶ 7.) On May 16, 2014, Defendant wrote-up Plaintiff for violating Defendant's anti-discrimination policy because Plaintiff mistreated an African-American hotel visitor and used inappropriate racial epithets. (Id. ¶ 11.) Also, on May 16, 2014, Defendant placed Plaintiff on probation for one year and advised him that any further infractions could result in Defendant terminating his employment. (Id. ¶ 13.)

         On February 10, 2015, Plaintiff left his post at the hotel front desk and appeared to have been sleeping in the lobby. (Id. ¶ 15.) While Plaintiff was away from his post, a fight broke out among a group of men in the lobby. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff returned to his post when the same group of men resumed fighting. (Id. ¶ 19.) As a result of the fight, a victim was hospitalized due to his injuries. (Id. ¶ 21.) Thereafter, Defendant conducted an investigation into the February 10, 2015 incident, including a review of the video recording of the lobby. (Id. ¶ 22.) On February 24, 2015, Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment. (Id. ¶ 23.)


         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that 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). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, “facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a ‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). After “a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party ‘must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (quotation ...

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