United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
Leander Brown, Plaintiff, Pro se, South Bend, IN.
For Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, Defendant: Mary Ann Cartwright, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rhoades McKee PC, Grand Rapids, MI.
OPINION AND ORDER
RUDY LOZANO, United States District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on (1) The Salvation Army's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on May 12, 2014, and (2) The Salvation Army's Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Response, filed on July 25, 2014. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and the motion to strike is DENIED as moot. Accordingly, this case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
On July 12, 2012, Plaintiff, Leander Brown (" Brown" ), filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC" ) against his former employer, The Salvation Army. In his charge, Brown alleged that he was terminated based on his race and gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC issued its Dismissal
and Notice of Rights on August 28, 2012. (DE# 1-1.)
Brown filed his complaint in federal district court on October 9, 2012, using a preprinted " Employment Discrimination Complaint." (DE# 1.) While Brown checked the box indicating his claim is being made pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), 29 U.S.C. section 621, his statement of legal claim focused solely on The Salvation Army's alleged race and gender discrimination. On July 30, 2013, the Court dismissed Brown's ADEA claim, but allowed his Title VII claim to proceed. (DE# 14.) Pursuant to the Court's Scheduling Order, any amendments to the pleadings were to be filed by November 14, 2013, and the discovery deadline was March 20, 2014. (DE# 21.)
On May 12, 2014, The Salvation Army filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of Brown's remaining Title VII claim. (DE# 41.) Because Brown is proceeding pro se, The Salvation Army provided him with a Notice to Pro Se Litigant as required by Local Rule 56-1 (DE# 40). See N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1(f) & App. C. The Notice included the text of both Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 56 and Local Rule 56-1. (DE# 40, at 2-3.)
Brown filed a response to the motion for summary judgment on July 11, 2014, several weeks after the response brief deadline had passed. Brown's responses states in its entirety:
I am asking that the courts do not dismiss my complaint in its entirety and award defendant attorney fees and its actual costs. I am the one that has been treated with injustice.
Their [ sic ] were some things that was said about me that was untrue in this matter. Even things asked at my deposition. I feel that i [ sic ] was taking [ sic ] advantage of cause i [ sic ] did not have an attorney.
(DE# 53.) The Salvation Army filed a motion to strike Brown's response on July 25, 2014, arguing that the response was untimely and failed to comply with Local Rule 56-1. (DE## 58, 59.) On July 28, 2014, Brown filed a two-sentence response to the motion to strike, indicating that he had been unaware of any deadline to file his response to the summary judgment motion. (DE# 60.)
On the same day, Brown also filed a one-page document entitled, " Suing Defamation of Character." (DE# 61.) The Salvation Army construed this document as a motion for leave to amend the complaint, and filed its response thereto on August 11, 2014. (DE# 62.) The Salvation Army asked the Court to deny what it perceived to be Brown's motion and sought sanctions against Brown pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
On August 22, 2014, Brown filed a one-paragraph document entitled, " Emotional Distress," in which he asked the Court to deny The Salvation Army's request for sanctions. (DE# 64.)
The Court will address The Salvation Army's summary judgment motion, its motion to strike Brown's response, Brown's
" Suing Defamation of Character" submission, and The Salvation Army's request for sanctions, in turn.
Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment must be granted when " there is no genuine 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 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Not every dispute between the parties makes summary judgment inappropriate; " [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id. To determine whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists, the Court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010). A party opposing a properly supported summary judgment motion may not rely on allegations in his own pleading, but rather must " marshal and present the court with the evidence [he] contends will prove [his] case." Goodman v. Nat'l Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010). " [I]nferences relying on mere speculation or conjecture will not suffice." Stephens v. Erickson, 569 F.3d 779, 786 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). If the non-moving party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which he bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is proper. See Massey v. Johnson, 457 F.3d 711, 716 (7th Cir. 2006).
In determining what facts to rely upon in ruling on the instant summary judgment motion, this Court considers the requirements of Local Rule 56-1. This Rule requires the party seeking summary judgment to include a " Statement of Material Facts" in the memorandum or appendix accompanying the summary judgment motion. N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1(a). Rule 56-1 also provides that a party opposing summary judgment must file a response brief and " any materials that the party contends raise a genuine dispute." N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1(b)(1)(B). The response brief or its appendix " must include a section labeled 'Statement of Genuine Disputes' that identifies the material facts that the party contends are genuinely disputed so as to make a trial necessary." N.D. Ind. L.R. 56-1(b)(2). Failure by the responding party to do so results in the Court accepting as true all properly supported facts presented in the moving party's statement of material ...