United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Z. LEE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Priscilla Thompson (“Thompson”) has sued
Defendant Menard, Inc., d/b/a Menards (“Menard”),
alleging claims for negligence based on injuries she suffered
as a result of falling on the sidewalk outside a Menards
store in Rockford, Illinois. Menard has moved for summary
judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For
the reasons set forth below, Menard's motion for summary
judgment is denied.
Northern District of Illinois, motions for summary judgment
are governed by Local Rule 56.1. “The obligation set
forth in Local Rule 56.1 ‘is not a mere formality.'
Rather, ‘[i]t follows from the obligation imposed by
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) on the party opposing summary judgment to
identify specific facts that establish a genuine issue for
trial.'” Delapaz v. Richardson, 634 F.3d
895, 899 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Waldridge v. Am.
Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 924 (7th Cir. 1994)). The
Seventh Circuit has “routinely held that a district
court may strictly enforce compliance with its local rules
regarding summary judgment motions.” Yancick v.
Hanna Steel Corp., 653 F.3d 532, 537 (7th Cir. 2011)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the party moving for summary
judgment to provide “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.” Local Rule (“LR”) 56.1(a)(3). The
nonmovant must then file “a response to each numbered
paragraph in the moving party's statement.” LR
56.1(b)(3)(B). Additionally, the nonmovant must present a
separate “statement, consisting of short numbered
paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial
of summary judgment, ” to which the movant must also
respond. SeeLR 56.1(b)(3)(C). “When a
responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts
set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner
dictated by [Local Rule 56.1], those facts are deemed
admitted for purposes of the [summary judgment]
motion.” Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559
F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009); accordLR
Menard filed a statement of facts pursuant to Local Rule
56.1(a)(3), and Thompson filed a statement of additional
facts pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C). Each party,
however, failed to file a response to the other party's
statement of facts in the manner set forth under the local
rule. This defeats the purpose of the rule, which is
“designed to facilitate the resolution of Rule 56
motions by calling for evidentiary statements and responses
to such statements . . . highlighting the existence or
nonexistence of factual disputes.” Prudential Ins.
Co. of Am. v. Lehman, No. 99 C 4304, 2001 WL 138922, at
*1 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 16, 2001). Nevertheless, because the facts
in this case are not particularly complex, the Court has
reviewed the parties' filings to determine the points of
genuine material dispute and will proceed to the merits of
Menard's summary judgment motion. See Id.
(proceeding to merits of summary judgment motion even though
both sides failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1); see
also U.S. E.E.O.C. v. Cont'l Airlines, Inc., No. 04
C 3055, 2006 WL 14510, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 3, 2006)
(“We have broad discretion to mandate strict compliance
with Rule 56.1, but, since both parties made errors, we will
simply admonish them to [ ] conform their pleadings to the
rule in the future, and we will do our best to work with what
we have been given.”) (internal quotation marks and
following facts are not in material dispute except where
otherwise noted. Thompson is a citizen of Illinois.
Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 2, ECF No. 14. Menard
is a Wisconsin corporation with its primary place of business
in Wisconsin. See id. Menard owns and operates a retail
hardware store at 2001 S. Perryville Road in Rockford,
Illinois. See Id. ¶¶ 3-4. Approximately
200 feet of sidewalk line the perimeter of the store.
Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 3, ECF No. 17. This
sidewalk connects the store's main entryway to the far
north side of the store's parking lot. Id.
1, 2014, Thompson visited the Menards store in Rockford to
purchase lumber. Id. ¶ 4. After paying for her
lumber and picking up her receipt, Thompson exited the store
through the main entryway. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. She
proceeded to walk along the sidewalk lining the edge of the
store, heading toward her car in the parking lot.
Id. ¶ 6. After walking approximately 100 feet,
she tripped over an uneven portion of the sidewalk. See
Id. ¶ 7; Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) ¶¶ 6-7.
As a result of her fall, she sustained “a complex wrist
fracture and deep facial lacerations.” Pl.'s LR
56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 7. Prior to this accident, no
person had fallen on or been injured by the portion of the
sidewalk where Thompson fell. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt.
returned to the store eleven days after the accident, on June
12, 2014, to photograph and inspect the portion of the
sidewalk where she had tripped. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C)
Stmt. ¶ 18. She measured a one-inch gap between two
adjacent sidewalk slabs in the location where she fell.
Id. Over two years later, in July 2016, Menard took
its own photographs and measurements of the same deviation
between the two sidewalk slabs. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3)
Stmt. ¶ 8. At this time, Menard, too, measured the gap
to be approximately one inch. Id. According to Roy
Hanna, one of the store's managers at the time of
Thompson's fall, no repairs or changes to the sidewalk or
surrounding area had been made in the interim. See
Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶¶ 20, 50.
gave conflicting testimony as to the amount of pedestrian
traffic that is typical for the sidewalk where Thompson fell.
On the one hand, he testified that the sidewalk is not a
“high traffic area.” Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3)
Stmt. ¶ 10 (citing Hanna Dep. at 21, 44-45). On the
other hand, he also testified that he saw customers using
this sidewalk “frequently, ” either to go between
the main entryway to their cars in the parking lot or to go
from the main entryway to a “garden area” on the
north side of the store. Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt.
¶¶ 37-38 (citing Hanna Dep. at 20-21).
Hanna testified that Menard had policies and procedures for
inspection of the premises. Id. ¶ 25. Hanna was
not trained on these policies, but the store's assistant
managers were. Id. ¶ 28. Hanna testified that
he believed that inspections of the exterior of the premises
were conducted once each month to identify dangerous
conditions on the property. Id. ¶¶ 29-31.
court shall grant summary judgment 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); see alsoShell v.
Smith, 789 F.3d 715, 717 (7th Cir. 2015). To survive
summary judgment, the nonmoving party must “do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), and
instead must “establish some genuine issue for trial
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in her
favor.” Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674
F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir. 2012). In reviewing a motion for
summary judgment, the Court gives the nonmoving party
“the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and
reasonable inferences that could be drawn from it.”