Roberts v. Advocate Health Care

Decision Date07 August 2015
Docket NumberCase No. 14 C 442
Citation119 F.Supp.3d 852
Parties Sharon Roberts, Plaintiff, v. Advocate Health Care, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois

Ryan F. Stephan, Andrew C. Ficzko, James B. Zouras, Teresa M. Becvar, Stephan Zouras, LLP, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.

Michael J. Gray, Efrat R. Schulman, Jones Day, Chicago, IL, for Defendant.


Joan B. Gottschall, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Sharon Roberts is a former employee of Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center who worked as a registered nurse team lead in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab from September 2009 to March 2013.1 She contends that Advocate violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL") by failing to pay her for all of the overtime work that she performed. Advocate seeks summary judgment on both claims. For the following reasons, Advocate's motion is granted in part and denied without prejudice in part.

A. Local Rule 56.1

Advocate filed a reply in support of its Local Rule 56.1 statement. (Dkt. 38.)

"This is a procedurally improper attempt to have the last word in a manner that is not contemplated by the local rules." Killis v. Cabela's Retail II, Inc., No. 13 C 6532, 2015 WL 128098, at *1 (N.D.Ill. Jan. 8, 2015) (collecting cases). Thus, the court will not consider Advocate's reply in support of its statement of facts.

With respect to Robert's response to Advocate's statement of facts, the court has broad discretion when enforcing the local rules governing summary judgment motions. See, e.g., Petty v. City of Chicago, 754 F.3d 416, 420 (7th Cir.2014). First, some of Roberts' so-called denials fail to demonstrate that the factual assertions at issue are disputed. For example, Roberts takes issue with ¶ 16 of Advocate's statement of facts, which provides:

When an employee is not on shift or on-call, she is not expected to respond to any page, whether cardiac emergency or otherwise. (Magurany Dep. 50:21–51:5, 85:9–22, 159:16–24.) Ms. Magurany [Roberts' supervisor] instructed [Roberts] that "It's my expectation that if you're not on-call, turn your pager off. You do not need to look at or answer e-mails. Nothing is that urgent. The only urgent thing in the cath lab is the cardiac alert. So that we give to people that are on-call." (Ex. B/Magurany Dep. 159:16–24.)

Roberts asserts that the quoted deposition testimony does not support the first sentence, but it appears to do so, and Roberts does not cite to any evidence that supports her denial. Merely saying that a fact is disputed does not transform it into a disputed issue of fact sufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment. See Hurst v. Mauger, No. 11 C 8400, 2013 WL 1686842, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Apr. 16, 2013). This problem appears repeatedly in Roberts' response to Advocate's facts as numerous facts are purportedly disputed although the evidence cited by both Advocate and Roberts supports Advocate's statement of fact. The court will disregard all denials of facts by Roberts that are fairly supported by the cited evidence.

Advocate is also guilty of improper denials as in its response to Roberts' statement of additional facts, it repeatedly states that facts are "disputed in part, but immaterial." Some of Advocate's responses explain why Advocate believes that the cited testimony is inaccurate and include citations to the record. However, it is not always clear why Advocate believes that certain portions of Roberts' facts are unsupported by the record. For example, in response to ¶ 9 of Roberts' statement of additional facts, Advocate asserts that it is "[d]isputed but immaterial that Ms. Magurany was responsible for making the final approval of work schedules for members of her team as unsupported by the cited testimony." The cited testimony provides "Q: Was it one of your duties and responsibilities as manager of cardio to review and make the final approval or work schedules for members of your team" A: Yes." (Magurany Dep. at 91:21–92-1.)

Advocate's practice of marking the vast majority of facts as "disputed" in whole or in part when they are not disputed is at odds with the local rules governing summary judgment, which are supposed to streamline proceedings, not provide a platform to disagree reflexively with the position of the opposing party. As with Roberts' improper denials, the court will disregard denials by Advocate where the facts at issue are fairly supported by the cited evidence.

Turning back to Roberts' responses to Advocate's facts, she include numerous types of unresponsive denials. For example, in ¶ 26 of Advocate's statement of facts, Advocate asserts that Roberts "worked a total of 331.74 hours of overtime work over the [statutory] period." Roberts denies this fact and states that "she worked, on average, approximately 8 to 12 hours of unpaid overtime hours each workweek during her employment with Advocate." The court understands that Roberts' position is that she was not paid for all of the overtime hours that she worked. But her overtime hours are not limited to the claimed additional 8 to 12 hours. She has not denied that she also worked 331.74 overtime hours as posited by Advocate and as shown by the evidence cited by Advocate. She also does not cite to any record evidence that demonstrates that a dispute exists. See Loc. R. 56.1(b)(3)(B)-(C). The court will disregard this type of unresponsive denial. See id.

Next, numerous responses to Advocate's facts state that Roberts "admit[s] that according to the data produced by Defendant," Advocate's statement of fact is true. See, e.g., Roberts' response to ¶ 47 of Advocate's statement of facts. To the extent that this is an attempt to contest the fact asserted by Advocate, it is unavailing. Advocate's corresponding facts are deemed admitted. See Patterson v. Burge, No. 03 C 4433, 2010 WL 3894438, at *3 (N.D.Ill. Sept. 27, 2010). Similarly, to the extent that Roberts ends a response to one of Advocates' statements of fact with the phrase "[d]eny the rest" without providing a citation to the record, Advocates' fact is deemed admitted. See Loc. R. 56.1(b)(3(C); see also Cardoso v. Cellco P'ship, No. 13 C 2696, 2014 WL 6705282, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Nov. 26, 2014).

Finally, Roberts attempts to challenge statements she made during her deposition by generally citing multi-page documents without providing pinpoint citations. For example,¶ 70 of Advocate's facts quotes Roberts' deposition testimony about the disputed overtime: "I can't break it down, but I do know it was about 8 to 12 per week." In her response to ¶ 70, Roberts states (again) that she estimates that she worked approximately 8 to 12 hours of uncompensated overtime per pay period and in support, cites to thirty instances where she made this claim in some fashion during her deposition. She also cites to Magurany's deposition testimony that Magurany understood that she was seeking 8–12 hours of overtime per week. None of this refutes Advocate's statement of fact in ¶ 70 that Roberts herself could not break down her claimed overtime past her estimate of 8 to 12 hours per week.

Roberts' response, however, continues. Roberts asserts that "[d]ocumentation of emails, pages and text messages support her claims that there is time that she worked for Defendant but was not properly compensated." She then cites to multiple group exhibits; specifically, "Exhibit D/Emails Outside Plaintiff's Scheduled Shift; Exhibit E/Time Records Corresponding to Emails Outside of Plaintiff's Scheduled Shift; Exhibit F/Emails Issued Over the Lunch Timeframe; Exhibit G/Pages Outside of Plaintiff's Scheduled Shift; Exhibit H/Time Records Corresponding to Pages Outside of Plaintiff's Scheduled Shift; Exhibit I/Pages Issued Over the Lunch Timeframe[ ]." None of these exhibits refute Roberts' own statement under oath that she could not "break ... down" when she worked overtime without compensation. At best, they could only support her claim that she worked unpaid overtime. Roberts thus cannot disclaim her prior sworn statement that she could not break down her alleged unpaid overtime work.2

With these rulings in mind, the court turns to the parties' Rule 56.1 submissions.

B. Facts
1. Roberts' Position as a Nurse and Clinical Team Lead

In September 2009, Roberts began working for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center as a registered nurse and clinical team lead in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab ("Cath Lab"). Advocate terminated Roberts' employment in March 2013.3 At the relevant time, Kathleen Magurany (manager of cardiac services) was Roberts' direct supervisor and Karen Kittle (director of nursing and clinical operations) was Magurany's direct supervisor.

During Roberts's tenure with Advocate, Magurany supervised approximately 45 to 50 other employees, including nurses and radiologic technologists (staff who perform diagnostic imaging examinations) in multiple departments. Magurany reviewed employee time cards a "couple times a week." (Magurany Dep. at 90: 3–4.) She was responsible for making final decisions regarding employee time cards and clock adjustment forms for members of her team. She approved 100% of her team's clocking adjustment forms because she trusted them to report time, including missed or interrupted lunches, accurately.

Staff at Advocate's Cath Lab perform cardiac interventions and diagnostic procedures. Some of the work performed at the Cath Lab, such as addressing heart attacks, is time-sensitive. As a clinical team lead in the Cath Lab, Roberts performed clinical duties and was responsible for the unit's day-to-day operations. In this role, she ensured that the Cath Lab had enough nurses on each shift, scheduled the daily employee lunches, and facilitated time record corrections for other employees by adding hours in Advocate's time and attendance system if an employee failed to use the time clock properly.

Advocate issued a pager for Roberts' use when she was on shift at...

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