24 F.3d 918 (7th Cir. 1994), 92-3714, Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp.

Docket Nº:92-3714.
Citation:24 F.3d 918
Party Name:Sandra L. WALDRIDGE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. AMERICAN HOECHST CORP., et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:May 16, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 918

24 F.3d 918 (7th Cir. 1994)

Sandra L. WALDRIDGE, Plaintiff-Appellant,


AMERICAN HOECHST CORP., et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 92-3714.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 16, 1994

Argued Oct. 29, 1993.

Rehearing Denied July 7, 1994.

Page 919

Glenn J. Tabor, Blachly, Tabor, Boxik & Hartman, Valparaiso, IN (argued), Stephen L. Williams, Max Goodwin (argued), Mann, Chaney, Johnson, Goodwin & Williams, Terre Haute, IN, for plaintiff-appellant.

Ralph A. Cohen, Angela K. Wade, Jacqueline A. Simmons (argued), Ice, Miller, Donadio & Ryan, Mary K. Reeder (argued), Riley, Bennett & Egloff, Lee B. McTurnan, McTurnan & Turner, Donald G. Orzeske (argued), William M. Osborn, Osborn, Hiner & Lisher, Indianapolis, IN, for defendants-appellees.

Before RIPPLE, KANNE and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.


For two and a half years, Sandra Waldridge worked for Futurex Industries, a small Indiana plastics company. For the majority of her employment with Futurex, Ms. Waldridge was assigned to tasks that required her to handle plastic resins and colorants and exposed her on a daily basis to the dust and fumes from these materials. In the course of her work, Ms. Waldridge began to experience frequent headaches and nausea. By the fall of 1986, she was suffering from fatigue, soreness in her joints and muscles, and tingling in her extremities. Her symptoms worsened the following year: in January, a nerve in her face became inflamed;

Page 920

and in May, she suffered a permanent loss of visual acuity and color perception in her right eye and some peripheral vision in both eyes. In 1988, she temporarily lost the use of her right arm to increased pain and weakness, and her ophthalmologist became concerned that the vision in her right eye was worsening. On the advice of her physicians, Ms. Waldridge resigned from Futurex in June of 1988. With the exception of her eyesight, her physical condition has improved since that time, although she continues to experience a number of infirmities. An examination conducted in November 1988 revealed that Ms. Waldridge exhibited a mild neuropsychologic impairment in the left hemisphere of her brain.

Two years after leaving Futurex's employ, Ms. Waldridge filed suit against the companies that supplied plastics and colorants to Futurex, alleging that these products were the cause of her ailments. After substantial discovery took place, the defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that there was insufficient evidence of a causal link between their products and plaintiff's infirmities. 1 The district court granted the motion, holding that Ms. Waldridge had failed to identify the evidence supporting her claims in the manner required by Rule 56(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 56.1 of the Local Rules for the Southern District of Indiana. Alternatively, the court found that the expert opinion on which Ms. Waldridge relied to establish causation did not meet the requirements of Rules 401 and 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Ms. Waldridge appeals, contending that the opinion of her medical expert satisfied the pertinent evidentiary rules and supplied enough evidence on the question of causation to defeat summary judgment. Because we agree with the district court, however, that her response in opposition to the defendants' motion did not comply with the explicit requirements of Local Rule 56.1, we affirm the entry of summary judgment against Ms. Waldridge on that basis without reaching the admissibility of the expert opinion that she proffered.

We begin our analysis with a few remarks about the nature of summary judgment. It is not, as parties opposing summary judgment are fond of pointing out, a vehicle for resolving factual disputes. 10 Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary K. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil Sec. 2712, at 574 (2d ed. 1983). And because summary judgment is not a paper trial, the district court's role in deciding the motion is not to sift through the evidence, pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to believe. The court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); 10 Wright, Miller & Kane Sec. 2712, at 574-78. The parties, in turn, bear a concomitant burden to identify the evidence that will facilitate this assessment. Thus, as Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 56(e) makes clear, a party opposing summary judgment may not rely on the allegations of her pleadings. Rather:

[T]he adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against the adverse party.

(Emphasis supplied). This requirement is more than a technicality; as the now familiar trilogy of 1986 cases from the Supreme Court established, if the non-movant does not come forward with evidence that would reasonably permit the finder of fact to find in her favor on a material question, then the court must enter summary judgment against her. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L.Ed.2d...

To continue reading