Properly prepared motions for summary judgment require considerable Court and attorney time and client expense. Sometimes such motions are unnecessarily filed. A careful examination of the record prior to filing may reveal contested factual issues making the granting of the motion impossible.
In many cases after fact discovery has closed, it is helpful for the Court to hold an informal, off-the-record discussion in chambers with the lead attorneys of the parties to discuss whether the filing of a summary judgment motion is advisable given the state of the record. No written submissions should be made prior to the conference. The party who wishes to seek summary judgment should be prepared to point out the uncontested facts that support the relief being sought, and the opposing party should be prepared to speak to whether in fact those facts are contested. This conference should be scheduled with the Courtroom Deputy before any substantive work is done preparing the motion. No party will ever be prevented from filing a dispositive motion, but the goal of the in-chambers conference is to have a careful, informed discussion of the issues before significant time and expense have been incurred.
In some cases, the Court may determine that an in-chambers conference would not be helpful. Parties, however, should always inquire with the Court prior to filing a summary judgment motion.
Motions for Summary Judgment
Motions for summary judgment and responses must comply with Local Rules 56.1(a) and 56.1(b), as well as the procedures outlined herein. All statements of undisputed material facts and their responses shall be filed separately from the memoranda of law and shall include the line, paragraph, or page number where the supporting material may be found in the record.
The Local Rules are not mere technicalities. Failure to abide by the Local Rules may result in the Court striking briefs, disregarding statements of fact, deeming statements of fact admitted, and denying summary judgment. See Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009).
The movant shall not file more than 80 statements of undisputed material facts without prior leave of the Court. The respondent shall be limited to 40 statements of undisputed material facts without prior leave of the Court. In complex cases, the Court finds it helpful when the parties submit an agreed timeline of events in addition to the statements of undisputed material facts.
Motions to strike are strongly disfavored. Custom Vehicles, Inc. v. Forest River, Inc., 464 F.3d 725, 727 (7th Cir. 2006) (Easterbrook, J., in chambers). For example, if a party believes that the other side's brief contains inaccurate facts or that the other side's Local Rule 56.1 statement (in summary-judgment briefing) contains an unsupported assertion, then the complaining party should so argue in the response or reply brief, or in the responsive 56.1 statement. Motions to strike almost always would require the Court to decide significant issues (and, indeed, the underlying motion) on the merits and would multiply the briefs, because the other side should be allowed to respond. Id. at 727. Only on very rare occasions is a motion to strike appropriate, such as when an entire brief or 56.1 statement is defective. When it is appropriate, the motion must be made very promptly after the filing of the purportedly-offending brief or statement.
Deposition Testimony Evidence
Parties submitting deposition transcripts in support of or in opposition to summary judgment must file electronically the entire transcript for each deposition. Parties are not to submit the entire transcript with their courtesy copies, but only the excerpted pages referenced in the party's motion papers. If at all possible, deposition transcripts, whether submitted in their entirety or in excerpted form, should be submitted in the condensed transcript format where multiple deposition transcript pages are reduced to one page. All submissions to the Court should be printed on both sides of the paper and included the ECF heading.