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Petri v. PNC Financial Services Group

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

February 15, 2018

CHRIS A. PETRI, Plaintiff,
v.
PNC FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Samuel Der-Yeghiayan United States District Court Judge.

         This matter is before the court on Defendant PNC Financial Services Group's (PNC) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the motion for summary judgment is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 2, 2014, Plaintiff Chris A. Petri (Petri) went to PNC's location in St. Charles, Illinois and inquired about the availability of a 1% interest rate for certain investment accounts. Petri allegedly met with Susan Featherstone (Featherstone), the branch Vice President, and Featherstone allegedly confirmed that such an interest rate would be available to Petri. Petri allegedly opened an account that day (7903 Account). Petri also subsequently opened accounts on July 31, 2014 (8195 Account) and on August 1, 2014 (1963 Account). Despite the fact that Petri signed documents indicating that the 1% interest rate was only for a 90-day promotional period and despite the fact that Petri was regularly sent notices indicating that fact to him, Petri claims that he believed that it would earn the 1% interest on the 7903 Account and the 1963 Account for an indefinite period of time. After 90 days, the interest rate for the 7903 Account and the 1963 Account was allegedly reduced to 0.01%. Petri allegedly contacted PNC and was informed that the 1% interest rate was only for an initial 90-day period. Petri includes in his amended complaint a fraud in the inducement claim (Count I), a claim alleging a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (Count II), a breach of oral contract claim (Count III), a breach of express contract claim (Count IV), and an unjust enrichment claim (Count V). PNC now moves for summary judgment on all claims.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Smith v. Hope School, 560 F.3d 694, 699 (7th Cir. 2009). A “genuine issue” in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when “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 (1986); Insolia v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Local Rule 56.1

         Petri denies a significant portion of PNC's statement of facts. Petri, however, has consistently failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1 in such denials. The Seventh Circuit has made clear that a district court can “require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1. . . .” Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 914 (7th Cir. 2016). If a party fails to comply with Local Rule 56.1 when responding to a statement of facts, “those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion.” Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 218-19 (7th Cir. 2015)(internal quotations omitted)(quoting Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009)). If a responding party fails to “cite to any admissible evidence to support facts presented in response” as required by Local Rule 56.1, “the facts presented” in the statement of facts are deemed to be undisputed.” Curtis, 807 F.3d at 219. Petri has disputed a significant number of facts provided in PNC's statement of material facts, but Petri has failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1 and provide citations to the record to support such denials. (RSF Par. 5-14, 18-22, 26-29, 33-34, 36-45). Such facts are therefore deemed undisputed.

         Petri's responses also fail to comply with Local Rule 56.1 because they contain evasive responses. See Jankovich v. Exelon Corp., 2003 WL 260714, at *5 (N.D. Ill. 2003)(indicating that evasive responses fail to comply with Local Rule 56.1). For example, in PNC's statement of material fact PNC asserts that on June 9, 2014, it mailed a Rate Disclosure to Petri informing him that the 1% interest rate would only last for 90 days. (SF Par. 19-20). Petri responds: “Denied to the extent that Plaintiff received the 7903 Disclosures sporadically and received fewer than Defendant claims to have sent.” (RSF Par. 19-20). Petri provides no admission or denial in regard to the specific mailed disclosure at issue, and makes additional argument that does not relate to the fact at issue. Another example is PNC's statement of fact indicating that the Account Agreement for Personal Checking, (SF Par. 18). Savings and Money Market Accounts included certain language and terms. Petri is unwilling to admit to such facts, stating: “Denied to the extent that Plaintiff never received the Account Agreement.” (RSF Par. 18). Petri neither admits nor denies that the language and terms presented are accurate and instead makes additional arguments on issues not presented by PNC.

         Petri also makes denials that are not supported with references to the record and arguments that incorrectly state the record. For example, PNC states in its statement of facts that Petri “received statements for the three Accounts from PNC in the mail but he discarded them because he did not think he had opened checking accounts.” (SF Par. 42). Petri responds: “Denied: Never was it demonstrated that Plaintiff discarded statements for the three Accounts.” (RSF Par. 42). Petri himself in fact stated at his deposition that he discarded the statements. At Petri's deposition, he was asked “Do you recall getting anything in the mails from PNC?” (Pet. Dep. 63). Petri responded “Yes. I recall receiving some notices that are general notices that said something about checking account[s], which we do not have a checking account. So we discarded it.” (Pet. Dep. 63). Therefore, the facts presented in PNC's statement of material facts in paragraphs 5-14, 18-22, 26-29, 33-34, and 36-45 are therefore deemed undisputed.

         II. Breach of Contract Claims

         PNC contends that the allegations supporting the breach of contract claims are directly contradicted by the terms of the written contracts and are barred by the parole evidence rule. Under Illinois law, it is presumed that a written contract “speak[s] the intention of the parties who signed it, and their intentions must be determined from the language used.” W.W. Vincent & Co. v. First Colony Life Ins. Co., 814 N.E.2d 960, 966 (Ill.App.Ct. 2004). In accordance with that presumption, the parole evidence rule generally bars: (1) “evidence of understandings not reflected in the contract, reached before or at the time of its execution, which would vary or modify its terms, ” and (2) “parol evidence of prior negotiations to create an ‘extrinsic ambiguity' where the parties to a contract have included an integration clause.” TAS Distrib. Co. v. Cummins Engine Co., 491 F.3d 625, 637 (7th Cir. 2007).

         In response to the instant motion, Petri concedes that in neither the Account Agreement for the 7903 Account (7903 Agreement) nor the Account Agreement for the 1963Account (1963 Agreement) guaranteed in writing that he would continue to receive 1% in perpetuity for the 7903 Account or the 1963 Account . (Resp. SJ 7-8); (RSF Par. 8). Petri claims that he never received a copy of the written contract, but he does not dispute the accuracy of the signature cards for the 7903 Agreement and 1963 Agreement (collectively referred to as “Agreements”), which PNC has included as exhibits to the instant motion. In the Agreements, Petri agreed to “be bound by the terms and conditions of PNC Bank's Account Agreement for Checking ...


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