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Cartwright v. Silver Cross Hospital

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

April 30, 2018



          John Robert Blakey, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Fred Cartwright sued his former employers Silver Cross Hospital and Crothall Health Care, Inc., for age discrimination, race discrimination, unlawful retaliation, sex or gender discrimination, and a hostile work environment. [55]. He brings his claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. Id. This opinion addresses Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment on Plaintiff's sex and gender discrimination claims, and related hostile work environment claim. [92]. For the reasons explained below, this Court grants Defendants' motion.

         I. Background

         The following facts come from Defendants' Local Rule 56.1 statement of undisputed material facts [95]. Plaintiff failed to submit a statement of additional material facts, nor did he provide any response to Defendants' statement of facts. See [113]. This Court has broad discretion to enforce the local rules governing summary judgment motions. See, e.g., Benuzzi v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 647 F.3d 652, 655 (7th Cir. 2011). When the non-moving party fails to respond to the moving party's statement of facts, courts deem the statement of facts admitted. See L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). Although this Court takes into account Plaintiff's pro se status, even pro se litigants “must follow the rules of civil procedure.” Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993)). Accordingly, this Court deems Defendants' statements of fact admitted and relies upon their version of events “to the extent that it is supported by evidence in the record.” Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880 (7th Cir. 2012); see also Sherrill v. Potter, No. 06-c-4120, 2008 WL 4086980, at *1-2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 25, 2008) (deeming the defendant's statement of facts admitted where pro se plaintiff “did not even attempt to respond”), aff'd, 329 Fed.Appx. 672, 676 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Plaintiff began working for Silver Cross Hospital (SCH) in November 2008. [95] ¶ 11. At that time, he worked as a technician in SCH's Environmental Services Department (EVS), reporting to Cynthia Crosby and performing general housekeeping and janitorial tasks. See id. ¶¶ 11-12, 14; [94] at 2. Crosby reported to Josh Perryman, a manager, who reported to Dan Thomas, the director of EVS, who ultimately answered to Geoff Tryon, an SCH vice president responsible for overseeing EVS. [95] ¶ 13. Perryman and Thomas were employees of Crothall Health Care, Inc., which provided management services for EVS during Plaintiff's tenure there. Id. ¶¶ 3, 13.

         In May 2010, Plaintiff transferred from EVS to the Sterile Processing Department (SPD), where his job required him to decontaminate and prepare supplies related to surgeries. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. In that role, Plaintiff reported to James Tyrell, and the Department was supervised by Mary Bakken, an executive vice president with SCH. Id. ¶¶ 17. Two women worked with Plaintiff at the SPD: Debbie Olha and Christine Talerico. See id. ¶¶ 18-19. According to Defendants, Olha and Talerico were neither managers, supervisors, nor “leads.” See id. Defendants acknowledge, however, that because of their level of experience Olha helped train other SPD employees and Talerico provided “some oversight over SPD procedures.” Id. Plaintiff argues-without evidentiary support-that Talerico served as the SPD's “Director Manager, ” while Olha was Plaintiff's “shift supervisor.” [113] at 2-3. Plaintiff's specific allegations of sex or gender discrimination all relate to Olha's conduct. See [55] ¶¶ 11, 19.

         In July 2011, Plaintiff received a written warning from Tyrell after he “put a sterilized tray incorrectly back into the sterilizer.” [95] ¶ 20. Plaintiff signed a written acknowledgement of the warning, taking full responsibility for the error. See id. On August 8, 2011, Plaintiff transferred back to EVS. Id. ¶ 21. Upon his return to EVS, Plaintiff reported to the same chain of command in place during his first stint there (namely, Crosby, Perryman, Thomas, and Tryon). See id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff remained at EVS for the rest of his tenure with SCH. See id. ¶¶ 22, 25-27.

         From January 2014 to April 2014, Plaintiff took a medical leave of absence. See Id. ¶¶ 23-25. In mid-April, SCH's worker's compensation administrator notified Plaintiff that SCH had received a return-to-work authorization from Plaintiff's doctor. Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff did not return to work despite numerous follow-up letters, and SCH terminated him effective June 6, 2014. Id. ¶¶ 25-27.

         On February 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed a discrimination charge against SCH with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for race, sex, and age discrimination, and wrongful retaliation. Id. ¶ 4; [95-2] at 20. Plaintiff filed a discrimination charge against Crothall Health Care with the EEOC in June 2014 for race, sex, and age discrimination, and wrongful retaliation. [95] ¶ 5; [95-3] at 5. Plaintiff received his Right-to-Sue Letter from the EEOC in May 2015. [95] ¶ 6.

         Plaintiff initiated this suit in August 2015. [1]. He amended his complaint in October 2016. [55]. This Court recruited counsel to assist Plaintiff in June 2016, [51], and again in December 2016, upon granting first recruited counsel's motion to withdraw, [65]. Defendants moved for partial summary judgment in November 2017. [92]. While that motion was pending, Plaintiff's new counsel moved to withdraw due to substantial disagreements over litigation strategy, and this Court granted the motion. See [111]. At that time, this Court asked Plaintiff in open court whether he was prepared to respond to the pending motion for partial summary judgment, and Plaintiff answered that he was. Plaintiff timely filed his response, see [113], and Defendants filed their reply in March 2018, [114].

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper where there is “no dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “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). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See CTL ex rel. Trebatoski v. Ashland Sch. Dist., 743 F.3d 524, 528 (7th Cir. 2014). The non-moving party has the burden of identifying the evidence creating an issue of fact. Harney v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008). To satisfy that burden, the non-moving party must do more than create “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find” for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. The moving party is entitled to summary judgment where the non-moving party fails to establish an “essential element” of the case for which that party has the burden of proof. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323.

         III. ...

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