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Hudson v. Miramed Revenue Group

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

November 28, 2016

CORNELIUS HUDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
MIRAMED REVENUE GROUP, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Gary Feinerman, Judge

         Cornelius Hudson brought this pro se suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., against Miramed Revenue Group, his former employer. Doc. 6. Discovery has closed, and a jury trial is set for January 30, 2017. Doc. 33. Miramed has moved for summary judgment. Doc. 37. The motion is granted.

         Background

         Consistent with the local rules, Miramed filed a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement of undisputed facts along with its summary judgment motion. Doc. 42. Each factual assertion in the Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement cites evidentiary material in the record and is supported by the cited material. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(a) (“The statement referred to in (3) shall consist of short numbered paragraphs, including within each paragraph specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph.”). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) required Hudson to file a “concise response to [Miramed's] statement that shall contain … 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.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). Despite having been served with a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, Doc. 43, which explained in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1, Hudson did not properly respond in the manner required by Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B).

         Hudson did file a two-page document entitled “56.1(3) statement of disputed facts, ” Doc. 49, but that document does not comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). As just noted, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) requires the non-movant 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.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). Hudson's two-page document neither contains numbered paragraphs nor syncs up with the factual assertions set forth in Miramed's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement, so it comes nowhere close to qualifying as a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response.

         The Seventh Circuit “has consistently upheld district judges' discretion to require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1.” Flint v. City of Belvidere, 791 F.3d 764, 767 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing cases); see also Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Because of the high volume of summary judgment motions and the benefits of clear presentation of relevant evidence and law, we have repeatedly held that district judges are entitled to insist on strict compliance with local rules designed to promote the clarity of summary judgment filings.”). Here, the problem is not that Hudson failed to strictly comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B); rather, it is that he did not comply at all. This court need not and will not attempt to map the factual assertions in Hudson's “56.1(3) statement of disputed facts” onto the factual assertions in Miramed's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement to determine whether Hudson has adduced a genuine dispute of material fact as to any of Miramed's assertions; that is the purpose of a properly constructed Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response. See Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 219 (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. A litigant who denies a material fact is required to provide the admissible evidence that supports his denial in a clear, concise, and obvious fashion, for quick reference of the court. The district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Curtis failed to comply with Rule 56.1 requirements.”); Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Because of the important function local rules like Rule 56.1 serve in organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts, we have consistently upheld the district court's discretion to require strict compliance with those rules.”).

         Hudson's status as a pro se litigant does not excuse his failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“[W]e 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. App'x 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. App'x 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2010) (“[S]trictly 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) (“[E]ven pro se litigants must follow rules of civil procedure.”). Given Hudson's failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B), the facts set forth in Miramed's 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.”); Curtis, 807 F.3d at 218 (“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.”); Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880, 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); Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 608 (7th Cir. 2006).

         Before proceeding to the facts, it bears mention that Hudson's two-page document might be considered a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts. Like Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B), however, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) requires “references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). Hudson's document does not cite any record material, and so its assertions are not properly part of the summary judgment record.

         The court is mindful that “a nonmovant's failure to … comply with Local Rule 56.1 … does not … automatically result in judgment for the movant. … [The movant] must still demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Keeton, 667 F.3d at 884. The court therefore will recite the facts in Miramed's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement and then determine whether, on those facts, Miramed is entitled to summary judgment. The court sets forth the following facts as favorably to Hudson, the non-movant, as the record and Local Rule 56.1 allow. See Woods v. City of Berwyn, 803 F.3d 865, 867 (7th Cir. 2015). In considering Miramed's motion, the court must assume the truth of those facts, but does not vouch for them. See Arroyo v. Volvo Grp. N. Am., 805 F.3d 278, 281 (7th Cir. 2015).

         Hudson began working for Miramed as a debt collector in September 2012. Doc. 42 at ¶ 1. He worked on a “dialer team” within the “Self Pay” department. Id. at ¶ 4. Each member of the dialer team was given information about a person who was indebted to a Miramed customer, and the member's job was to call that person to try to work out a payment plan. Ibid. At the end of each call, a computer would generate the employee's next assignment. Ibid. Hudson was the only African-American male in the department at certain points, but fifteen other African-American males worked in the department at other points during the same period. Id. at ¶ 13. The majority of employees in Hudson's department were African American for his entire tenure at Miramed. Id. at ¶ 27.

         Collectors in Hudson's department received an hourly base salary and were eligible for commissions if they met monthly targets. Id. at ¶ 5. Each collector made the same type of calls and was eligible for the same commissions. Id. at ¶ 6. Hudson's duties did not change throughout his employment, and neither did his base hourly wage of $11.50. Id. at ¶¶ 1, 5. Like many other collectors, Hudson never received a high enough score on an individual performance review to be eligible for an increase in hourly pay. Id. at ¶ 23. Even though his base salary never increased, Hudson did receive commissions. Id. at ¶ 17. Hudson's seat assignment and phone extension changed several times, but there is no evidence that those changes affected his income. Id. at ¶ 19.

         There were several occasions when Hudson notified Miramed of errors it had made. At one point, management transferred from Hudson to another collector the account of a Miramed customer named Miller. Id. at ¶ 9. Hudson spoke to his supervisor, and then Miller's account was transferred back to Hudson; there is no evidence that this temporary transfer affected Hudson's compensation. Ibid. Separately, Miramed was once late in processing the payment of a customer named Turner, so Hudson did not receive credit for the transaction until the following month; there is no evidence to refute Miramed's explanation that the payment form had been misplaced. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. On another occasion, money was incorrectly deducted from Hudson's paycheck, but a check for the amount of the underpayment was issued to him the following week. Id. at ¶ 16.

         Hudson had some minor health problems while at Miramed. On one day when he was not feeling well, Hudson asked his supervisor to speak to the Human Resources representative. Id. at ¶ 18. The supervisor replied, “Don't you see I'm doing something? I'm checking my voice mails.” Ibid. Hudson had to wait several minutes to be taken to Human Resources, and then his request to leave for the day was granted. Ibid. Hudson also suffered a hematoma after donating blood at a Miramed blood drive. Id. at ΒΆ 24. He used four hours of paid ...


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