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Graewin v. Department of Workforce Development

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

July 24, 2018




         Plaintiff Stanley Graewin is seeking review under Title I of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 722(c)(5)(J), of a decision by defendant Department of Workforce Development denying his claim for vocational rehabilitation services. (Although plaintiff was proceeding pro se when he filed his complaint, he is now represented by counsel.) Plaintiff raises the following challenges in his appeal: (1) defendant did not make a determination with respect to his eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services within the time period required by state and federal law; (2) defendant improperly denied plaintiff services related to maintaining his family farm; and (3) defendant did not provide plaintiff an impartial due process hearing when it denied his second appeal. Before the court is defendant's motion for summary judgment with respect to all of plaintiff's claims. Dkt. #17. For the reasons explained below, I am granting defendant's motion for summary judgment and affirming the decision reached below.

         Before laying out the facts, I note that an initial matter deserves attention. Although plaintiff filed an affidavit through his attorney stating his version of events, dkt. #25, he has not filed a response to defendant's proposed findings of fact or proposed any findings of fact of his own. Instead, he states in his brief that several “material facts are disputed” and then identifies by number the facts that he disputes without explaining what he disputes or citing any admissible evidence to support his contention. The court's procedures for motions for summary judgment, which were attached to the pretrial conference order sent to the parties make clear that plaintiff must “[a]nswer each numbered fact proposed by the moving party in separate paragraphs, ” stating plaintiff's “version of the fact and refer[ring] to evidence that supports that version.” Proc. to be Followed on Mtn. For Summ. Judg., § II.D, dkt. #12 at 11, 15. The procedures also give specific warning to the parties that “[t]he court will not consider any factual propositions made in response to the moving party's proposed facts that are not supported properly and sufficiently by admissible evidence.” Id. at 16. Because plaintiff has failed to make any meaningful attempt to comply with these requirements, I have deemed defendant's proposed findings of fact admitted. Abraham v. Washington Group International, Inc., 766 F.3d 735, 737 (7th Cir. 2014) (“[T]his Circuit has routinely held that a district court may strictly enforce compliance with its local rules regarding summary judgment motions.”); Schmidt v. Eagle Waste & Recycling, Inc., 599 F.3d 626, 630-31 (7th Cir. 2010) (holding that district court did not err when it deemed defendant's proposed findings of fact admitted and refused to consider additional facts for plaintiff's failure to follow local procedures on proposed findings of fact).

         From defendants' proposed findings of fact, I find that the following facts are undisputed.


         A. State Vocational Rehabilitation Services

         Plaintiff Stanley Graewin was referred for state-provided vocational rehabilitation services on July 17, 2015. Defendant Department of Workforce Development has eleven regions in the state of Wisconsin that provide employment-related services to people with disabilities, whom defendant refers to as “consumers, ” through its Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). DVR's purpose is

To provide a comprehensive, coordinated, effective, efficient, and accountable vocational rehabilitation program which is (a) An integral part of a statewide workforce development system; and
(b) Designed to assess, plan, develop, and provide vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities, consistent with their unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice so that they may prepare for and engage in competitive integrated employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

         Voc. Rehab. Progr. Policy Man. a t 1, available at /dvr_11074_p.pdf.

         Every consumer works with a DVR counselor to establish an individualized plan for employment, which assists the consumer in preparing for, securing, retaining or regaining an employment outcome that is consistent with the strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests and informed choice of the consumer. Counselors are responsible for documenting information about consumers in their case record in a computerized software program called “The Integrated Rehabilitation Information System.” Relevant information includes an assessment, diagnosis, plan for employment, progress notes and case closure.

         At the time plaintiff applied for services, DVR staff used the “Toolkit for Existing Farms” in working with consumers whose goal was to maintain their existing farm business following disability. The “Self-Employment Business Start-up Toolkit” was used for start-up farms or for existing farmers who sought to change their farm operation. DVR uses the following steps in working with a consumer to maintain an existing farm:

1. Discuss preliminary information about expressed interest in maintaining existing farm;
2. Initial appointments with DVR staff to discuss existing farm and consumer's needs for maintaining the farm;
3. Farm assessment referral and follow-up;
4. Development of individualized plan for ...

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