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Conrod v. Smith

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

December 27, 2016



          J.P. Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.

         1. INTRODUCTION

         On November 9, 2016, the defendant Milwaukee County (the “County”) filed a motion for summary judgment. (Docket #17). The plaintiff Davius Conrod (“Conrod”) responded to the motion, and also offered his own cross motion for summary judgment, on December 12, 2016. (Docket #25 and #26). The County offered its reply on December 22, 2016. (Docket #28). For the reasons explained below, the Court must grant the County's motion and deny Conrod's, and put Conrod on notice that it is considering granting summary judgment sua sponte as to defendants Robert R. Smith (“Smith”) and Amy Stolowski (“Stolowski”).


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides the mechanism for seeking summary judgment. Rule 56 states that the “court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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); see Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir. 2016). A “genuine” dispute of material fact is created 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 (1986). The Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the non-movant. Bridge v. New Holland Logansport, Inc., 815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir. 2016). In assessing the parties' proposed facts, the Court must not weigh the evidence or determine witness credibility; the Seventh Circuit instructs that “we leave those tasks to factfinders.” Berry v. Chicago Transit Authority, 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

         3. FACTS

         3.1 Conrod's Failure to Dispute Any Facts

         Conrod has been informed of the requirements of the Federal and Local Rules regarding summary judgment at least twice; by attachments to the Court's trial scheduling order, and by the defendants' own summary judgment motion. (Docket #16 and #17). He has chosen to ignore those rules by failing to even attempt a dispute of any of the County's proffered facts. Instead, he merely offers statements in his responsive brief and a collection of exhibits, none of which are connected to any statement of facts or response thereto. These infirmities cannot be overlooked.

         Though the Court is required to liberally construe a pro se plaintiff's filings, it cannot act as his lawyer; the Court cannot and will not delve through Conrod's submissions in this case to craft a response to the County's statements of fact on his behalf. Indeed:

A district court is not required to “wade through improper denials and legal argument in search of a genuinely disputed fact.” Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). And a mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material. Edward E. Gillen Co. v. City of Lake Forest, 3 F.3d 192, 196 (7th Cir. 1993). In short, “[j]udges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs.” United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991). Smith's summary-judgment materials were woefully deficient in either responding adequately to the defendants' statement or in setting forth additional facts with appropriate citations to the record. As such, Smith's purportedly good intentions aside, the district court did not abuse its discretion in deeming admitted and only considering the defendants' statement of material facts.

Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). This Court would offer a similar analogy: it is not an archaeologist, made to sift through Conrod's filings hoping to piece together clues to the evidence behind his legal positions.

         Like Smith, no matter Conrod's intentions, his utter failure to comply with the rules of procedure means that the Court has no choice but to deem the County's facts undisputed for purposes of deciding the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). The Court will still consider his legal brief, to the extent it could be of any value in light of the undisputed facts.

         3.2 Relevant Facts

         The facts relevant to the Court's instant determination are brief. Conrod is a former inmate in the County's Jail (the “Jail”).[1] On December 17, 2012, Milwaukee municipal judge Philip Chavez issued four warrants for Conrod's arrest based on probable cause that he committed the offenses alleged therein. (Docket #21-1). Conrod was arrested on December 19, 2012. The warrants would have been provided to Jail personnel upon Conrod's arrival there; they were in fact kept in his Jail file. On December 18, 2012, Stolowski, a Milwaukee police officer, swore to and signed a CR-215 form (the “Probable Cause Statement”) recounting the basis for Conrod's arrest, including references to the warrants. (Docket #21-2). The Probable Cause Statement identified Smith as the arresting officer. Id. On December 19, 2012, the Probable Cause Statement was signed by Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Maria S. Dorsey (‚ÄúCommissioner ...

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