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Scott v. UAW Solidarity House

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

October 31, 2017

DAVID A. SCOTT, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
UAW SOLIDARITY HOUSE b/k/a INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE and AGRRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT WORKERS OF AMERICA, UAW, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Plaintiff David A. Scott, Jr., filed the instant lawsuit pro se, alleging that his union representatives: (1) engaged in sexual discrimination by advocating for female union members over him; (2) violated the Americans with Disability Act (the “ADA”) by allowing his employer to ignore his physical work restrictions; (3) retaliated against him when he complained by not pursuing his grievances; and (4) failed to fairly represent him after his termination.[1] Scott originally named his union, along with several individual defendants in this action. The Court previously dismissed the individuals in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2) [DE 44], leaving only UAW Solidarity House (the “Union”) as the defendant.[2]

         Scott brought a parallel action in this District against his employer, Lear Corporation, and the Court consolidated these cases for discovery purposes only.[3] [DE 26] Discovery has now closed and the Union moved for summary judgment. [DE 96] The Union also moved to strike Scott's response to its summary judgment motion based on numerous deficiencies. [DE 104] For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant both the Union's Motion to Strike and its Motion for Summary Judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Defendant's Motion to Strike

         Scott's response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment can be divided into two parts: a six page brief that reads more like an affidavit;[4] and over 200 pages of documents - mostly phone bill records - labeled as “exhibits.” Defendant moved to strike Scott's response [DE 105], and Scott filed nothing in opposition.

         The response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment, as a whole, does not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For example, Scott has failed to authenticate or identify the documents attached to his brief, despite the requirement that “[w]hen evidence is offered through exhibits on a summary judgment motion, those exhibits ‘must be identified by affidavit or otherwise be admissible.'” Sissom v. Purdue Univ., No. 4:04-CV-72, 2006 WL 897572, at *4 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 31, 2006), aff'd, 207 F. App'x 715 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Powers v. Dole, 782 F.2d 689, 696 (7th Cir. 1986)). But even if Scott had properly authenticated his exhibits, he fails to provide any citations in his brief that would otherwise guide the Court to the specific documents he believes demonstrate the existence of material issues of fact. While Scott's narrative references letters and phone call records in passing, he makes only a single catch-all link to the documents he attached:

Plaintiff will include EXHIBITS A, B, C, D & 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 to show how the defendant UAW was involved with helping Lear carry out all of their bad acts and not trying or attempting to represent plaintiff fairly by allowing Lear and the UAW to violate the plaintiffs [sic] CBA contract rights.

         [DE 103 at 5] Scott therefore has failed to support his factual positions in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1), and the Court need not sift through these several hundred pages of documents, pluck out the ones that Scott might be referring to in his brief, and then reconstruct his response by stitching them to various points in his narrative. Diadenko v. Folino, 741 F.3d 751, 757 (7th Cir. 2013) (“[A] district court is not required to scour the record looking for factual disputes or to scour the party's various submissions to piece together appropriate arguments. A court need not make the lawyer's case.”).

         True, Scott's pro se status generally requires the Court to afford his pleadings a more liberal construction. Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 687 (7th Cir. 2006). “However, it is also well established that pro se litigants are not excused from compliance with procedural rules.” Pearle Vision, Inc. v. Romm, 541 F.3d 751, 758 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113, 113 S.Ct. 1980, 124 L.Ed.2d 21 (1993) (noting that the Supreme Court has “never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse mistakes by those who proceed without counsel”)). A lawsuit “is not a game of hunt the peanut.” Greer v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, Ill., 267 F.3d 723, 727 (7th Cir. 2001). Employment discrimination claims and labor disputes in particular are extremely fact-intensive in nature, and the Court is not “obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes ….” Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921-22 (7th Cir. 1993); see also Greer, 267 F.3d at 727 (noting that district court would have been within its right to grant summary judgment against pro se plaintiff in employment discrimination case where plaintiff's response did not cite evidence in support and contained self-serving legal conclusions).

         Here, Defendant notified Scott about its motion for summary judgment, as required by L.R. 56-1(f). [DE 97] Defendant's notice not only included copies of the federal and local rules governing summary judgment, but also provided Scott with a straightforward warning that failure to follow these rules may result in him losing this case. Id. Scott did not heed this advice and filed a noncompliant response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment, containing the various deficiencies as discussed above. Although Scott is a pro se litigant, “‘strict adherence to the procedural requirements … is the best guarantee of evenhanded administration of the law.”' McNeil, 113 S.Ct. at 1984; (quoting Mohasco Corp. v. Silver, 100 S.Ct. 2486, 2497 (1989)). Thus, the Court will grant Defendant's motion to strike Scott's response in its entirety, including the documents attached thereto. Rosemary B. on Behalf of Michael B. v. Bd. of Educ. of Cmty. High Sch. Dist. No. 155, 52 F.3d 156, 158-59 (7th Cir. 1995) (affirming district court's decision to strike plaintiff's response that included no references to supporting evidence and attached unauthenticated documents); see also Sissom, 2006 WL 897572, at **4-6 (striking plaintiff's response to motion for summary judgment that was unsupported by authenticated evidence and contained no citations or “any sort of guide by which to navigate the maze of evidentiary submissions”) (internal citations omitted).

         II. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

         On summary judgment, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that 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 “material” fact is one identified by the substantive law as affecting the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A “genuine issue” exists with respect to any material fact when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. Where a factual record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial, and summary judgment should be granted. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citing Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Servs. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in that party's favor. Jackson v. Kotter, 541 F.3d 688, 697 (7th Cir. 2008); King v. Preferred Tech. Grp., 166 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 1999).

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Because of the deficiencies in Scott's response, the Court resolves the present motion for summary judgment on the facts properly before it, meaning almost entirely those supplied by the Union. The following undisputed facts will be accepted as true:

         Lear operates a plant in Hammond, Indiana, that manufactures seats for Ford vehicles. Lear employed Scott at the Hammond facility from October 2010 to April 23, 2013, and initially hired him to work on the production line as an assembler. The Union represents over 700 employees at the Hammond plant, and a collective bargaining agreement outlined and governed the terms and conditions of employment, including a grievance process, for bargaining unit employees from September 12, 2009, through August 4, 2014 (the “CBA”). Scott was a member of the Union while employed at the facility.

         Scott claims he experienced an assortment of problems at Lear between December 2010 and December 2011. However, he sought assistance from the Union with regard to only a few of those issues, such as vacation day credits, unpaid wages, worker's compensation claims, and sexual harassment. Union officials indeed responded in the affirmative to Scott's requests for help. On December 20, 2011, Scott began a leave of absence for issues he had with his feet.

         Because he felt the Union was inadequately prosecuting grievances he never asked to be filed, Scott wrote to former International Union President Bob King in January 2012. On January 26, 2012, Scott filed a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) unfair labor practice charge against Local 2335, alleging that the Union breached its duty of fair representation by failing to process his grievances for discriminatory, arbitrary, and capricious reasons. On March 13, 2012, the NLRB regional office dismissed Scott's charge due to insufficient evidence. Scott appealed that dismissal, but the national office denied his challenge because its investigation revealed that the Union indeed looked into and resolved his complaints.

         Scott returned to work at the Hammond facility on August 29, 2012. The following day, he hurt himself while loosening leather and affixing it to seat headrests. Subsequent to this ...


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