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Norris v. Bartunek

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

January 27, 2017

John V. Norris, Plaintiff,
Officer Bartunek, Defendant,


          Jeffrey T. Gilbert Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff John Norris brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Will County Deputy Sheriff Brett Bartunek. Norris alleges that Bartunek improperly seized him for speeding and then "falsely cited" him for that offense. A screening order allowed Norris to proceed with a Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure claim and state law claims of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. (ECF No. 5.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Local Rule 73.1, the parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge for all proceedings, including entry of final judgment. (ECF No. 41.) Bartunek's motion to strike portions of Norris' statement of facts (incorporated in Bartunek's reply, ECF No. 80) and motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 52) are now before the Court. For the reasons discussed below, Bartunek's motions to strike and for summary judgment are denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

A. Bartunek's Motion to Strike

         In Bartunek's reply in support of his motion for summary judgment, he seeks to strike many of Norris' statements of fact-specifically, Norris' repeated assertions that he was traveling at 45 mph-because they are "not supported by documentary evidence." As the motion to strike is intertwined with the merits of the summary judgment motion, it is discussed more fully below. For purposes of summarizing the facts, however, the Court notes that the only so-called "documentary evidence" about Norris' speed is the ticket he received, which appears to reflect Bartunek's purported belief that Norris was traveling at a rate of 55 mph. Both Norris and Bartunek also have offered their own views about the events on the night of the traffic stop. To the extent that these statements are self-serving, whether proffered by Norris or Bartunek, they are nevertheless admissible because they are based on personal knowledge. See, e.g., Johnson v. Advocate Health & Hosps. Corp., No. 14 CV 8141, 2016 WL 5871489, at *1 (N.D. 111. Oct. 7, 2016) (citing Montgomery v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382, 389 (7th Cir. 2010) ("Uncorroborated, self-serving testimony disputes a material fact only if it is based on personal knowledge or firsthand experience")). Admissible evidence about Norris' speed thus is not limited to the traffic ticket issued by Bartunek but also includes Norris' statements about the speed he was traveling when he was ticketed.

         Bartunek also argues that a driver's denial that he was speeding is insufficient to create a material issue of disputed fact. ECF No. 81, Def.'s Resp. to PL's Facts, at ¶ 5 In support, he cites Jones v. City of Elkhart, Ind., 121 F.3d 1107, 1114 (7th Cir. 2013). Jones is distinguishable because the plaintiff in that case offered only habit evidence (his contention that he always obeyed the speed limit on the stretch of road at issue) to support his denial that he was speeding. In contrast, as discussed below, Norris has pointed to evidence that, when construed liberally, suggests a specific reason for his position that he was traveling at 45 mph. Thus, the motion to strike is denied.

         B. Local Rule 56.1

         Norris is an experienced pro se litigator. He has filed 14 federal civil rights lawsuits in this District, three federal civil rights lawsuits in the Central District of Illinois, and (according to his disclosures) 14 state court lawsuits. See Norris v. Jewel-Osco, Case No. 16 C 8819, ECF Nos. 1 and 5 (N.D. 111.) (Durkin, J.). Norris filed numerous documents in opposition to Bartunek's motion for summary judgment:

• A "reply" (ECF No. 67) to the numbered paragraphs in Bartunek's motion for summary judgment;
• A "reply" (ECF No. 68) to Bartunek's memorandum supporting the motion for summary judgment;
• A statement of additional facts (ECF No. 69) that is captioned "Plaintiffs reply to Defendant's L.R. 56.1 statement of material facts;"
• An affidavit (ECF No. 70);
• A "reply" (ECF No.71) opposing Bartunek's affirmative defenses;
• Another longer "reply" (ECF No. 72) opposing Bartunek's affirmative defenses; and
• "Plaintiffs Response to Defense's Cheating Lies" (ECF No. 82), which the Court construes as a second affidavit opposing summary judgment.

         These submissions are frequently repetitive. Moreover, although Bartunek filed a notice outlining the steps necessary to respond to a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 55) as our rules require in cases prosecuted by pro se litigants, Norris did not submit a substantive response to Bartunek's facts, as required by the local rules. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3) ("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"). Instead, ...

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