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Daniels v. Janca

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

July 2, 2019

DWAYNE DANIELS, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS JANCA and DANIEL TILJAK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GARY FEINERMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Dwayne Daniels brings this pro se suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), against Thomas Janca and Daniel Tiljak, alleging that they failed to provide him constitutionally adequate medical care for a wart on his foot while he was a pretrial detainee at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (“MCC”) in Chicago. Doc. 22. Daniels's original complaint named Janca, Officer Blisett, and the MCC as defendants. Doc. 7. At screening, the court dismissed the MCC as a defendant but allowed Daniels to proceed against Janca and Blisett. Doc. 6. Daniels then amended his complaint, replacing Blisett with Tiljak, Docs. 21-22, and the court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss, Docs. 35, 42, 58. With discovery completed, the parties cross-move for summary judgment. Docs. 81, 90. Defendants' motion is granted, and Daniels's motion is denied.

         Background

         A. Daniels's Noncompliance with Local Rule 56.1

         Consistent with Local Rule 56.1, Defendants filed a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement of undisputed facts along with their summary judgment motion. Doc. 83. Most of the relevant factual assertions in the Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement cite evidentiary material in the record and are supported by the cited material. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(a) (“The statement referred to in (3) shall consist 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.”). Defendants also served on Daniels a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, which explains what Local Rule 56.1 requires of a pro se litigant opposing summary judgment. Doc. 84.

         Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) required Daniels to file “a concise response to [Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)] statement … contain[ing] … a response to each numbered paragraph in [Defendants'] statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). Daniels did not file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement. Instead, he filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, Doc. 90, a memorandum in support of his motion, Doc. 91, an affidavit in support of his motion, Doc. 92, and “opposing affidavits, ” Docs. 93-94, in response to the declarations that Janca and Tiljak attached as exhibits to their Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement, Doc. 83-1. Defendants construed Daniels's three affidavits as Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements in support of his cross-motion and accordingly filed Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) responses, Docs. 112-114. Nearly three months after the December 17, 2018 deadline, Doc. 100, and without seeking an extension or leave to file, Daniels on March 4, 2019 filed a brief in opposition to Defendants' summary judgment motion, Doc. 115.

         Daniels's failure to file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response to Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement has consequences. The local rules provide that “[a]ll material facts set forth in the [Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)] statement … will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party.” N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). The Seventh Circuit “has consistently upheld district judges' discretion to require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1.” Flint v. City of Belvidere, 791 F.3d 764, 767 (7th Cir. 2015) (collecting cases); see also Zoretic v. Darge, 832 F.3d 639, 641 (7th Cir. 2016) (same); Stevo v. Frasor, 662 F.3d 880, 886-87 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Because of the high volume of summary judgment motions and the benefits of clear presentation of relevant evidence and law, we have repeatedly held that district judges are entitled to insist on strict compliance with local rules designed to promote the clarity of summary judgment filings.”). Daniels's pro se status does not excuse him from complying with Local Rule 56.1. See McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993) (“[W]e have never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel.”); Zoretic, 832 F.3d at 641 (“While we liberally construe the pleadings of individuals who proceed pro se, neither appellate courts nor district courts are obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes.”) (internal quotation marks omitted); Brown v. Wyndemere LLC, 608 Fed.Appx. 424, 425 (7th Cir. 2015) (“[A] district court is entitled to enforce its local rules, even against pro se litigants.”) (citing Cady v. Sheahan, 467 F.3d 1057, 1061 (7th Cir. 2006)).

         Here, the problem is not that Daniels failed to strictly comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B); rather, it is that he did not comply at all. Accordingly, the court accepts as true the facts set forth in Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement “to the extent th[ose] facts [a]re supported by admissible and docketed evidence.” Kreg Therapeutics, Inc. v. VitalGo, Inc., 919 F.3d 405, 411 (7th Cir. 2019) (internal quotation marks omitted) (“According to well-established Seventh Circuit law, [the nonmovant's] noncompliance [with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B)] meant that the district court could exercise its discretion to accept [the movant's] statements of fact as undisputed.”); see also Olivet Baptist Church v. Church Mut. Ins. Co., 672 Fed.Appx. 607, 607 (7th Cir. 2017) (“The district court treated most of the [movant's] factual submissions as unopposed, because the [nonmovant] failed to contest them in the form required by Local Rule 56.1(b). We have held that the district court is entitled to enforce that rule in precisely the way it enforced the rule in this litigation.”) (collecting cases); Curtis v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 807 F.3d 215, 218 (7th Cir. 2015) (“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(b)(3)(B)], those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion.”) (internal quotation marks omitted); Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 880, 884 (7th Cir. 2012) (similar).

         Because Daniels is pro se, the court will construe his three affidavits as Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements in support of his cross-motion for summary judgment and also as Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statements of additional facts in opposition to Defendants' summary judgment motion. See Johnson v. City of Chicago, 2016 WL 5341810, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 23, 2016). That said, because the only proper vehicle for disputing factual assertions in a Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement is a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response, the court will disregard the assertions in Daniels's affidavits to the extent they conflict with the properly supported assertions in Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement, which are deemed admitted due to his failure to file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response. See Klein v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 2019 WL 2435850, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June 11, 2019); Johnson, 2016 WL 5341810, at *2 (taking this approach in the context of cross-motions for summary judgment); Olivet Baptist Church v. Church Mut. Ins. Co., 2016 WL 772787, at *1-2 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 29, 2016) (deeming admitted the facts asserted in the defendant's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement where the plaintiff failed to file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response and instead attempted to treat its Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement as a response to the Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement), aff'd, 672 Fed.Appx. 607 (7th Cir. 2017); see also Curtis, 807 F.3d at 219 (“The purpose of Rule 56.1 is to have the litigants present to the district court a clear, concise list of material facts that are central to the summary judgment determination. It is the litigants' duty to clearly identify material facts in dispute and provide the admissible evidence that tends to prove or disprove the proffered fact. A litigant who denies a material fact is required to provide the admissible evidence that supports his denial in a clear, concise, and obvious fashion, for quick reference of the court. The district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Curtis failed to comply with Rule 56.1 requirements.”) (emphasis added); Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (“Because of the important function local rules like Rule 56.1 serve in organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts, we have consistently upheld the district court's discretion to require strict compliance with those rules.”) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         That leaves Daniels's response brief, whose tardiness alone provides sufficient reason to disregard it. See Raven v. Madison Area Tech. Coll., 443 Fed.Appx. 210, 212 (7th Cir. 2011) (“Although we liberally construe pro se filings, we do not enlarge filing deadlines for them.”) (citation omitted); Casimir v. Sunrise Fin., Inc., 299 Fed.Appx. 591, 593 (7th Cir. 2008) (“[E]ven when the litigant is pro se, district courts are justified in enforcing deadlines, particularly in the context of summary judgment and Local Rule 56.1.”) (collecting cases). Even if it were timely, Daniels's brief would do him little good. It consists largely of bare factual assertions, which are disregarded to the extent those assertions are not separately presented in his Local Rule 56.1 filings. See Shaffer v. Am. Med. Ass'n, 662 F.3d 439, 442 (7th Cir. 2011) (noting that it “is certainly within a district court's prerogative” to decline to consider “any facts that were not contained in the parties' Rule 56.1 statements”); Midwest Imps., Ltd. v. Coval, 71 F.3d 1311, 1317 (7th Cir. 1995) (holding that the predecessor to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) “provides the only acceptable means of … presenting additional facts to the district court”); Dunhill Asset Servs. III, LLC v. Tinberg, 2012 WL 3028334, at *3 (N.D. Ill. July 23, 2013) (“Under settled law, facts asserted in a brief but not presented in a Local Rule 56.1 statement are disregarded in resolving a summary judgment motion.”) (internal quotation marks omitted); N.D.Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C) (requiring “references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon” to support factual assertions on summary judgment). Daniels's legal arguments are likewise devoid of citations to legal authority, and thus are forfeited. See M.G. Skinner & Assocs. Ins. Agency, Inc. v. Norman-Spencer Agency, Inc., 845 F.3d 313, 321 (7th Cir. 2017) (“Perfunctory and undeveloped arguments are waived, as are arguments unsupported by legal authority.”)

         All that said, the court is mindful that “a nonmovant's failure to respond to a summary judgment motion, or failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1, does not … automatically result in judgment for the movant[s], ” who “must still demonstrate that [they are] entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Keeton, 667 F.3d at 884 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         B. Material Facts

         Because summary judgment will be granted to Defendants, the facts are set forth as favorably to Daniels as permitted by the record and Local Rule 56.1. See Calumet River Fleeting, Inc. v. Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, Local 150, 824 F.3d 645, 647-48 (7th Cir. 2016). On summary judgment, the court must assume the truth of those facts, but does not vouch for them. See Donley v. Stryker Sales Corp., 906 F.3d 635, 636 (7th Cir. 2018).

         Daniels at all relevant times was a pretrial detainee at the MCC. Doc. 83 at ¶ 3. Janca, a registered nurse at the MCC, was responsible for delivering prescription medications to detainees. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 4, 12-13. Tiljak, a senior correctional officer, was responsible ...


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