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Cervantes v. Ardagh Group

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

November 14, 2017

ARDAGH GROUP, Defendant.


          Ronald A. Guzmán Judge

         Plaintiff, Juan Cervantes, brought this action against Ardagh Group (“Ardagh”) for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq., (Counts I through IV), as well as for intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) in violation of Illinois common law (Count V). For the reasons explained below, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted; defendant's motion to strike plaintiff's response to defendant's statement of undisputed facts and plaintiff's counter-statement of undisputed facts is denied as moot; plaintiff's motion to strike defendant's statement of undisputed material facts and exhibits is denied as moot; and plaintiff's motion to extend time to depose expert witnesses is denied as moot.


         On September 3, 2015, plaintiff filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) a Charge of Discrimination (“Charge”) against his employer, Ardagh. (ECF No. 32, Def.'s App., Ex. A.) In the section of the Charge form that contains boxes to check for the type of discrimination alleged, plaintiff checked the box for “Retaliation.” (Id.) He did not check any other boxes, among which were “Race” and “National Origin.” In the “particulars” section of the form, plaintiff stated: “I began my employment with [Ardagh] in or around May 1991. My current position is Forklift Driver. A family member filed EEOC Charge No. 210-1998-00397 against [Ardagh]. During my employment, I have been subjected to discipline, harassment, and I have been demoted. I believe I have been discriminated against in retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.” (Id.) After conducting an investigation, the IDHR dismissed the Charge on July 13, 2016 for lack of substantial evidence. (Def.'s App., Ex. B.)

         On December 5, 2016, plaintiff filed this action. He alleges that Ardagh violated Title VII and the IHRA by refusing to promote him, demoting him, and issuing him performance warnings, based on his race and national origin and in retaliation for having previously complained to his superiors about discrimination and harassment. Plaintiff's IIED claim is based on the same alleged conduct.


         A. The Parties' Motions to Strike

         1. Local Rule 56.1

         Local Rule 56.1 requires the party moving for summary judgment to submit “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, . . . consist[ing] 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.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(a)(3). The Rule also requires the party opposing the motion to file a concise response to each fact asserted in the movant's statement and a statement of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, both including the same specific references to supporting materials upon which the opposing party relies. L.R. 56.1(b)(3). “[T]he purpose of Rule 56.1 statements is to identify the relevant admissible evidence supporting the material facts-not to make factual or legal arguments.” LaSalvia v. City of Evanston, 806 F.Supp.2d 1043, 1046 (N.D. Ill. 2011) (citing Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 2006)).

         2. Defendant's Motion

         Defendant moves to strike plaintiff's response to defendant's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement as well as plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts. Defendant contends that plaintiff's filings are improper for a number of reasons, including because they fail to state which parts of certain statements are disputed; include impermissible legal argument; exceed the limit in the Local Rule for numbered paragraphs (which is forty for parties opposing summary judgment motions); cite to evidence that does not support the disputes; and fail to cite evidence. In response, plaintiff argues that defendant is “play[ing] games” and relying on “technicalities.” (ECF No. 54, Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Strike at 1.) The requirements of Local Rule 56.1, however, are not “technicalities”; the Court of Appeals has “repeatedly held that a district court is entitled to expect strict compliance” with the Rule. Cichon v. Exelon Generation Co., 401 F.3d 803, 809 (7th Cir. 2005); Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 924 (7th Cir. 1994).

         Along with his response, plaintiff has “supplie[d] a revised Counter-Statement of Facts, ” which he says addresses defendant's “concerns about citations to the record and legal arguments.” (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Strike at 5.) The Court construes this argument as a motion for leave to file a such a revised statement, grants the motion over defendant's objection, and construes defendant's motion to strike as being directed to the revised statement.

         The Court need not (and, for reasons of judicial economy, will not) address each of defendant's arguments; it suffices to say that most of them are well taken, even as to the revised statement, because plaintiff's fact statements are deficient in many respects. Nonetheless, the Court denies defendant's motion as moot because it did not rely on any of plaintiff's statements or denials that do not comport with Local Rule 56.1.[1] In fact, as will become clear in the Court's discussion below, it was unnecessary for the Court to rely on the vast majority of the parties' fact statements.

         3. ...

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