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Hudson v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation

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

September 9, 2019

HILTON HUDSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHEAST ILLINOIS REGIONAL COMMUTER RAILROAD CORPORATION, UNKNOWN METRA POLICE, and JOHN AND MARY DOES 1-3, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GARY FEINERMAN JUDGE.

         In this pro se suit against Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (“Metra”) and unnamed Metra police officers, Hilton Hudson alleges that he was arrested, searched, and detained in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 and Illinois law. Doc. 9. Earlier in the litigation, the court dismissed Hudson's §§ 1985 and 1986 claims and state law intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Docs. 52-53 (reported at 2018 WL 1762439 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 12, 2018)). The court also dismissed for want of prosecution Hudson's claims against a security officer named Vasko. Doc. 114. Now before the court is Metra's motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims. Doc. 90. The motion is granted.

         Background

         Consistent with Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), Metra filed a statement of undisputed facts along with its summary judgment motion. Doc. 92. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) required Hudson to respond to Metra's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B) (requiring a “concise response to the movant's statement that shall contain … a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement, including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon”). Despite having been served with a Local Rule 56.2 Notice, Doc. 93, which explained in detail the requirements of Local Rule 56.1, Hudson did not file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response.

         Hudson's failure to file a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response 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.”). Hudson'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.”).

         Here, the problem is not that Hudson failed to strictly comply with Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B), but that he did not comply at all. Accordingly, the court accepts as true the facts set forth in Metra's 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).

         Hudson did file a document titled “Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment, ” Doc. 98, which the court deems to be a Local Rule 56.1(b)(2) memorandum of law, and a document titled “Statements, ” Doc. 99, which the court deems to be a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement of additional facts. The court disregards the paragraphs of the Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement that Hudson does not support with specific citations to record evidence. See Friend v. Valley View Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. 365U, 789 F.3d 707, 710-11 (7th Cir. 2015) (“[T]he district court did not abuse its discretion in disregarding the facts contained in [the non-movant's] statement of additional facts that were not supported by proper citations to the record.”); Bryant v. Bd. of Educ., Dist. 228, 347 Fed.Appx. 250, 253 (7th Cir. 2009) (“The district court was entitled to disregard those assertions in [the non-movant's] proposed statement of facts that violated Local Rule 56.1 by not being properly supported … .”). Hudson supports ¶¶ 2, 3, and 6 of his Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement with citations to record evidence, but he cannot use the factual assertions in those paragraphs to contradict any factual assertions in Metra's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement.

         As noted, Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) required Hudson to file “a response to each numbered paragraph in [Metra's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3)] 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). Hudson's submission of a Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statement does not and cannot properly controvert “each numbered paragraph” of Metra's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement because it does not sync up with the factual assertions in Metra's statement. This court need not and will not attempt to map the factual assertions in Hudson's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) statements onto the factual assertions in Metra's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement to determine whether Hudson has adduced a genuine dispute of material fact as to any of Metra's assertions; that is the purpose of a properly composed Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response. See 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 requirements.”); 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.”). Accordingly, the court accepts as true the properly supported facts asserted in Metra's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement. See Curtis, 807 F.3d at 218 (“When a responding party's statement fails to dispute the facts set forth in the moving party's statement in the manner dictated by the rule, those facts are deemed admitted for purposes of the motion.”); Parra v. Neal, 614 F.3d 635, 636 (7th Cir. 2010) (“accept[ing] defendants' statement of material facts as true” where the plaintiffs “did not bother to respond to [defendants'] statement of material facts”); Olivet Baptist Church, 2016 WL 772787, at *1-2 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 29, 2016) (similar), aff'd, 672 Fed.Appx. 607 (7th Cir. 2017).

         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. [The movant] must still demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Keeton, 667 F.3d at 884 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court accordingly recites the facts as favorably to Hudson as the record and Local Rule 56.1 permit, and then will determine whether Metra is entitled to judgment on those facts. See Johnson v. Advocate Health & Hosps. Corp., 892 F.3d 887, 893 (7th Cir. 2018). At this juncture, the court must assume the truth of those facts, but does not vouch for them. See Gates v. Bd. of Educ. of Chi., 916 F.3d 631, 633 (7th Cir. 2019).

         On the evening of August 15, 2015, Hudson attempted to board a Metra train departing from the LaSalle Street Station. Doc. 92 at ¶ 8. Metra prohibited alcoholic beverages and glass containers that day due to the Chicago Air and Water Show. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. The policy was enforced by the Metra Police Department together with security officers provided by Security Personnel, Inc. (“SPI”), id. at ¶¶ 11-12, who are afforded the jurisdictional and law enforcement powers of state police officers, id. at ¶ 13. Both Sergeant Babusch of the Metra Police Department and SPI Officer Vasko were working at the LaSalle Street Station that evening to enforce Metra's alcohol restrictions. Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.

         When Hudson attempted to board a train, he possessed four cans of beer that he refused to discard. Id. at ¶¶ 19-20. Having overheard a loud exchange between Vasko and Hudson, id. at ¶ 21, Babusch approached the two and learned of Hudson's refusal to discard his beer, id. at ¶ 22. Babusch, who was trained to detect intoxication, concluded that Hudson was intoxicated based on his odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and unsteady gait. Id. at ¶¶ 24-25.

         Vasko arrested Hudson after he refused to leave the train station despite being ordered to do so. Id. at ¶ 28. Vasko searched Hudson's person and, accompanied by Babusch, escorted him to a temporary holding area. Id. at ¶¶ 29-32. Hudson was issued a citation for violating 610 ILCS 90/1 (Railroad Intoxicating Liquor Act), id. at ¶ 33, and was released at 12:45 a.m. on August 16, several hours after he was arrested, id. at ¶ 24. Hudson was the only person arrested at the LaSalle Street Station that evening. Doc. 99 at p. 1, ¶ 2.

         At least as of August 2013, Metra was aware of “deficiencies” related to its “mission, leadership, policies and procedures, staffing, investigations and internal affairs.” Id. at p. 1, ΒΆΒΆ 3, 6. According to a comprehensive outside assessment, the ...


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