United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Hegwood, Jr. alleges in this suit that Meijer, Inc. and
Berwyn police officer Casey Stefano violated 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983 and 1985 and Illinois law in connection
with his arrest and prosecution for retail theft. Doc. 3-1.
Meijer removed the case to federal court. Doc. 3. After the
court denied Defendants' motions to dismiss, Docs. 49-50
(reported at 2017 WL 5517255 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 17, 2017)), the
parties engaged in discovery. Defendants now move for summary
judgment. Docs. 192, 195. Their motions are granted.
Consistent with Local Rule 56.1(a)(3), Defendants filed a
statement of undisputed facts along with their summary
judgment motions. Doc. 190. Each asserted fact in the Local
Rule 56.1(a)(3) statement is properly supported by citation
to competent evidence of record. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B)
required Hegwood to file “a concise response to
[Defendants'] 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). Despite having been served with a Local
Rule 56.2 Notice, Doc. 191, which explained in detail the
requirements of Local Rule 56.1, Hegwood filed a noncompliant
Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response, Doc. 231.
than those paragraphs admitting Defendants' assertions,
nearly every paragraph of Hegwood's Local Rule
56.1(b)(3)(B) response does not respond to Defendants'
factual assertions, fails to cite specific record evidence to
support his denial of those assertions, cites record evidence
that does not contravene those assertions, and/or supports
his denials with inadmissible hearsay. Accordingly, the
non-compliant portions of Hegwood's Local Rule
56.1(b)(3)(B) response are disregarded. 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 nonmovant'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
nonmovant's] proposed statement of facts that violated
Local Rule 56.1 by not being properly supported …
.”). Hegwood's 23-page, 79-paragraph “Counter
Affidavit, ” Doc. 239, which he filed a month after
responding to Defendants' summary judgment motions, is
disregarded because it is tardy and, more significantly,
because it does not present facts through the vehicle of a
compliant Local Rule 56.1 statement or response. See FTC
v. Bay Area Bus. Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 634 (7th
Cir. 2005) (“We have noted before that rules like 56.1
provide the only acceptable means of disputing the other
party's facts and of presenting additional facts to the
district court.”) (alteration in original, internal
quotation marks omitted); Koszola v. Bd. of Educ. of City
of Chi., 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir. 2004) (“In
granting the Board's motion for summary judgment, the
court explained that it had considered only the facts in
the parties' Local Rule 56.1 Statements of Material
Facts, as it was entitled to do.”) (emphasis
added); Mervyn v. Nelson Westerberg, Inc., 142
F.Supp.3d 663 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (holding that facts may be
presented on summary judgment only through a compliant Local
Rule 56.1 statement or response) (collecting cases);
Thorncreek Apartments III, LLC v. Vill. of River
Forest, 970 F.Supp.2d 828, 838-39 (N.D. Ill. 2013)
failure to file a compliant 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.”). Hegwood'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.”).
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” and not properly controverted by
Hegwood's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) response. 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)]
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).
said, the court is mindful that “a nonmovant's
… 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 Hegwood
as the record and Local Rule 56.1 permit, and then will
determine whether Defendants are entitled to summary 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).
December 2, 2016, Marcus Anderson, a loss prevention agent at
the Meijer store in Berwyn, “observed Hegwood wearing a
black jacket and a New York Yankees baseball hat enter the
Meijer store and proceed to a clothing display of Chicago
Cubs T-shirts.” Doc. 190 at ¶¶ 8, 17.
Anderson further observed Hegwood remove numerous Chicago
Cubs T-shirts from the display, place the shirts under his
jacket, and leave the store without paying. Id. at
¶ 18. Anderson called the Berwyn Police Department,
reported the theft, asked that a police officer be sent to
the store, and described the suspect as an African-American
male wearing a black jacket and a Yankees hat. Id.
at ¶ 19. Anderson left the store, saw Hegwood cross the
parking lot, and began following him on foot. Id. at
¶ 21. Anderson again called the Berwyn Police Department
and advised that he saw the suspect enter a Popeye's
restaurant near the Meijer store. Id. at ¶ 22.
Stefano was dispatched to the Meijer store to respond to a
report of retail theft by an African-American male wearing a
black jacket and a Yankees hat. Id. at ¶ 20.
The dispatcher advised Stefano that the suspect entered the
Popeye's restaurant some 0.2 miles down the street from
Meijer. Id. at ¶ 23. Stefano then drove to the
Popeye's. Id. at ¶ 24.
entering the Popeye's, Stefano saw an individual matching
the description of the suspect-an African-American male
wearing a black jacket and a Yankees hat. Ibid.
“Stefano approached Hegwood and asked him to identify
himself.” Id. at ¶ 25. Anderson arrived
and identified Hegwood as the person he saw at Meijer taking
shirts without paying for them. Id. at ¶ 26.
Anderson and another officer then saw a stack of twenty-six
Chicago Cubs T-shirts with Meijer price tags and hangers at
one of the restaurant's tables. Id. at ¶
27. Stefano arrested Hegwood for retail theft, placing
handcuffs on his wrists. Id. at ¶ 29. Anderson
then told Stefano that he recognized Hegwood from a previous
retail theft at Meijer on or about August 11, 2015, which
Anderson had reported to the Berwyn police at that time.
Id. at ¶¶ 30-31. Although Hegwood
complained of chest pain when Stefano attempted to interview
him, resulting in his being taken to a hospital for medical
treatment, at no time following his arrest did he assert to
any police officer that he had suffered a throat or neck
injury from the arrest. Id. at ¶ 35.
spoke with a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney
(“ASA”) about both shoplifting incidents.
Id. at ¶¶ 36-37. The ASA approved one
charge of retail theft (class three felony) against Hegwood
for the December 2, 2016 incident and one charge of retail
theft (class four felony) for the August 11, 2015 incident.
testified before a state grand jury regarding the two
incidents, and Hegwood was indicted. Id. at ¶
39. Hegwood entered into a plea agreement under which, in
exchange for his guilty plea to an amended charge of
misdemeanor retail theft for the December 2, 2016 incident,
the charge for the August 11, 2015 incident was dismissed. As
part of his guilty plea, Hegwood stipulated that a ...