Cook County Jury Finds In Favor of Police Detective and City in Police Shooting Lawsuit

            On Thursday, September 4, 2008 a Cook County jury found in favor of Chicago Police Detective Luke Daly and the City of Chicago in a lawsuit stemming from a 2004 police shooting.

On October 27, 2004, plaintiff David Wilson was arrested on the north side of Chicago by the police and was brought to the Area 3 police station pursuant to an arrest warrant for two rapes.  Detective Daly was not one of the officers who arrested Wilson, but was the primary detective investigating the rape cases.  The arresting officers searched plaintiff upon arrest and placed him in an interview room on a bench handcuffed to a ring on the wall.   

 

The next day, Detective Daly went to Area 3 to receive a Department commendation and to have photographs taken with his family.  At this time, he was informed that Wilson was in custody, and he proceed to interview him about the rapes.  Wilson initially denied the rapes, but after being presented with evidence to the contrary, including DNA evidence, he requested something to eat and a cigarette.  Detective Daly went to the lock up, made Wilson a sandwich, went back to the interview room and gave Wilson the sandwich and a cigarette.  Detective Daly uncuffed Wilson from the ring on the wall so he could use his hands to eat and smoke, leaving one handcuff attached to Wilson’s wrist and the other loose.      

 

Detective Daly then left the interview room to get the rape victims and arrange for a lineup.  A short time later, Detective Daly heard Wilson yell out from the interview room requesting another cigarette.  When Detective Daly opened the door to the interview room to give him a cigarette, Wilson attacked him with the dangling handcuff and a screwdriver.  Wilson apparently found the screwdriver after moving one of the tiles in the false ceiling in the interview room.  There was evidence presented at the trial that maintenance and installation work had recently been done in the interview room.  After being attacked, Detective Daly then shot Wilson three times, paralyzing him from the waist down.  

 

Wilson subsequently sued Detective Daly and the City of Chicago on the basis that the shooting was wilful and wanton.  He alleged that he never threatened Detective Daly and that Daly performed street justice and attempted to execute him; or alternatively, he alleged that, even if he had attacked Detective Daly, it was because Daly failed to follow proper procedures, putting Wilson in a position where he was able to attack Daly. The City argued that Daly was justified in shooting since Wilson was trying to kill him.

 

At the close of the eighty-day trial, Wilson asked the jury to award $28.5 million in damages.  Jurors deliberated for five hours before finding in favor of Detective Daly and the City.  

 

Scott Jebson and David Selmer of the Corporation Counsel's Officer represented the defendant at trial. 

 

Steve Muslin and Craig Sanberg of Muslin & Sanberg represented the Plaintiff

Judge Hibbler Rules No Constitutional Violation in Loevy's Car Accident Case

"On May 19, 2004, 8 year old Gregory Jones and 11 sufficent year old Dantondra Mitchell were struck by an unmarked police car.  Both children were gravely injured and Jones died the next day.  The plaintiffs - parents of the children - allege the officers' reckless driving deprived the victims of their substantive due process rights.  In response, the officers moved for summary judgment and assert vehicular accidents cannot support a finding of constitutional liability. " Judge Hibbler, citing US Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit cases, agreed.  

 
The Court explained:
"The threshold question of any substantive due process challenge is whether the behavior of a state actor 'is so egregious, so outrageous that it may fairly be said to shock the contemporary conscience.'"
 
"Ultimately the [Supreme Court] held the police officers' conduct did not deprive the plaintiff of substantive due process: 'high speed chases with no intent to harm...do not give rise to liability under the Fourteenth Amendment" ...As there was no time for reflection or deliberation it cannot be said the officer's conduct was deliberately indifferent.
 
The Court also discussed the relevant Seventh Case on point, Hill v. Schobe:
In Hill, the officer - who was not chasing a suspect or responding to an emergency call - was driving over the speed limit, and failed to turn on his lights or sirens even though it was after midnight.  Subsequently, the officer ran a red light and struck and killed Robert Hill.  The Seventh Circuit held, "the officer must have knowledge of the danger so the court can "infer he intended to inflict the injury" - He must have known it "was imminent but consciously and culpably refused to prevent it." The key word is accident - "if the vehicular collision was accidental - there is no constitutional liability. "
 
As such, summary judgment was granted in favor of defendants.  
 
Jon Loevy, Arthur Loevy, Douglas Shreffler, Amanda Antholt, Michael Kanovitz, Samantha Liskow, Loevy & Loevy for plaintiffs 
 
Liza Franklin, Steve Borkan, Stellato & Schwatrz, George John Yamin, Jr., Jordan Marsh, Scott Jebson, City of Chicago , for Defendants.

Jones v. City of Chicago 04 C 3742

 

 

 

Judge Kendall Rejects Plaintiff's "Class of One" Equal Protection Claim

Plaintiff was arrested on February 18, 2005 and charged with unlawful use of a weapon... According to plaintiff, "Holden, he was frightened when a male police officer pulled up behind him in a police car while he was urinating in an alley and yelled a racial epithet at him. He ran, scaled two gates, ran through a gangway and jumped onto Pulaski Avenue where he surrendered to two male police officers who arrived in a second marked police car.  Plaintiff further claims, "[o]ne of the two arresting officers grabbed Holden's leg and “snapped it in half,” making an audible noise, while Holden was lying on the sidewalk. The officer then threw him into the open door of the police car, slammed the car door against his head several times and punched his injured leg and eye.  Plaintiff claims that the officers "decided to falsely accuse him of a robbery."  The Officers deny any force and claim they "apprehended Holden and transported him to the police station."
 
At issue on Summary Judgment was "Holden's claim that he was treated differently than other individuals who have had interaction with police officers. However, at his deposition, he could not identify another person treated differently. Holden, however, suggests that some of the actions taken against him and statements made by the officers to him establish differential treatment.
 
Specifically, "Holden argues that he suffered discrimination as a “class of one” in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. He asserts that he was discriminated against because the officers abused him, did not send the allegedly recovered weapon for fingerprinting, and did not file a tactical report even though Department regulations require that weapons be fingerprinted and officers file tactical reports when they use force."
 
The Court rejected this claim and ruled: 
"To succeed on a "class of one" equal protection claim, the plaintiff must prove that: 1) he was intentionally treated differently from other individuals similarly situated; and 2) there was no rational basis for the difference in treatment or the cause of the differential treatment was “totally illegitimate animus” by the defendant." 
 
The Defense argued "that this case is ill-suited to Equal Protection analysis and that in any case, Holden has failed to adequately demonstrate that similarly situated individuals were treated differently. Generally, whether individuals are similarly situated is a question of fact for the jury, but courts may grant summary judgment when no reasonable jury could find that this requirement has been met.  To meet the similarly situated requirement, plaintiffs must prove “that they were treated differently than someone who is prima facie identical in all relevant respects.”
 
The Court held that "[s]pecific evidence of similarly situated individuals is necessary in class of one claims because individuals must be compared on a very detailed level to determine if they are in fact prima facie identical."  As such, the Court granted defendants' partial motion for summary judgment.  
 
Abbas Badruddin Merchant, Amanda Sunshine Yarusso, Blake Wolfe Horwitz, Horwitz, Richardson & Baker LLC, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.
 
Christopher A. Wallace, Liza Marie Franklin, Thomas Howard Freitag, George John Yamin, Jr., Thomas Jon Aumann, City of Chicago , for Defendant.

Holden v. A. Carey 2008 WL 4006753 N.D.Ill.,2008 (Kendall, J).

 

Seventh Circuit Affirms Kunz v. City

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 Today the Seventh Circuit  affirmed the district court’s judgment in its entirety in Kunz v. City.

"On March 22, 1999, Jeremy Kunz spent the afternoon and evening in a bar watching March Madness and consuming a few Guinnesses....Kunz left [to run an] errand—which turned out to be the delivery of some drugs—he grazed a parked car and kept driving. His actions prompted a 911 call from a witness; Officer DeFelice and his partner responded. Despite the flashing lights on the police car, Kunz kept driving, with the police in pursuit. [the car he was driving was reported stolen]. When Kunz finally stopped the car, he got out and tried to flee on foot...[and toss his drugs]."  

"As he was being handcuffed, multiple police officers kicked Kunz, eventually causing a sharp pain later diagnosed as a broken rib. The police then dragged the injured and restrained Kunz to their squad car and took him back to the station, where they placed him in a room on a stool, still cuffed and facing DeFelice. DeFelice repeatedly punched Kunz in the face hard enough to make him pass out several times. "

Kunz plead guilty, severed his time, and then brought a lawsuit.

Kunz prevailed, winning jury verdicts against Officer DeFelice for $10,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 (later reduced to $90,000) in punitive damages, as well as a verdict against the City for another $15,000 in compensatory damages. 

The parties cross-appealed. 

The Court affirmed keeping out a retail theft conviction and affirmed the exclusion of James O'Donell, the toxicologist.   Judge Zagel excluded O'Donell because his testing was not based on a sound methodology.  Moreover, the Seventh Circuit held noted that  "O’Donnell was a 
singularly unimpressive witness. His credentials were weak, at best: his degree is called a Pharm.D.; he earned it after one year of classes, only one of which was in pharmacology. Despite the title, his Pharm.D. is not actually in pharmacology, and O’Donnell admitted elsewhere to advertising falsely that it was.

The Seventh Circuit also affirmed the exclusion of witnesses as Zagel barred their testimony  as a discovery sanction under FED. R. CIV. P. 37.  DeFelice claimed that named were in the police reports, "but with nothing to signal that they had anything useful to add. The district court found that it would place an excessive burden on the plaintiff to require him to sift through every single name turned over in discovery."

On the cross-appeal, Kunz challenged the granting of summary judgment on his unlawful detention and malicious prosecution.  Specifically, Kunz challenged the district court's denial of his theory that "the coercive force DeFelice used proximately caused his extended detention and ensuing damages...under the Fourth or Fifth Amendment.  However, Kunz did not develop his fifth amendment his "novel legal theory" at the district court level and therefore it was waived. 
 
Joseph Roddy represented Officer DeFelice, Jon Loevy represented Kunz.
 

Verdict for Defense!!!

On July 31, 2008, federal jury returned verdict in favor of Chicago Police: The case is Willie Luckett v. Police Officers CONLAN and PALIDER. 07 C 3300. Plaintiff claimed that on June 28, 2005, the SOS Defendants falsely arrested him and caused him to be subjected to a malicious prosecution. Plaintiff also claimed that the SOS Defendants conspired with other non-named SOS Defendants to falsely arrest and maliciously prosecute him by raiding a apartment he was in for drugs, and arresting him for drugs that were not his. Plaintiff claimed SOS defendants then created false reports to coverup their raid. Plaintiff claimed severe emotional injuries as a result. In actuality, Defendant Officers arrested Plaintiff on June 28, 2005 in the alley behind the address of 4930 S. Laflin in Chicago, for possession of a controlled substance, after recieving info from a anonymous citizen about drug sales. Officers then approached for field interview and observed in plain view plaintiff discard suspect narcotics. This case was tried before Judge Delow. Jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants on all counts. Defendants were represented by Tom Freitag, Tom Aumann, and Arlene Martin - Corporation Counsel's Office Plaintiff was represented by Ed Fox & Associates

Seventh Circuit reverses, in part, district court in Montano v. City of Chicago et. al., 06-2148

Here are the basic facts from this 1997 lawsuit:"Plaintiffs alleged flagrant mistreatment by Chicago police officers during and after the celebration of Mexican Independence Day in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood on September 14, 1997. The five plaintiffs were forcibly arrested and jailed following an altercation between officers and several celebrants on the corner of 25th and Whipple. The plaintiffs describe the incident as a violent police-initiated beating followed by illegal arrests and strip searches at the station house; the City and the officers deny any wrongdoing." Judge Der-Yeghiayan dismissed this case at trial as a sanction, when he found some of the plaintiffs committed perjury at trial. "The plaintiffs argue that the extreme sanction of dismissal was unwarranted in this case because the instances of perjury cited by the district court were merely ambiguities or innocent discrepancies in certain aspects of their testimony. They also argue the sanction unjustly punished Yesenia Mendez and David Mendez, neither of whom were accused of perjury in the officers' motion for sanctions." The Seventh Circuit held "the district court's order and the relevant portions of the record, does not support that the plaintiffs gave "false testimony concerning a material matter with the willful intent to provide false testimony, rather than as a result of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory." "By dismissing the case with prejudice, however, the district judge took the credibility question from the jury--and he did so on the basis of a paper record from a trial that was impermissibly cut short" The Seventh Circuit also reversed, in part, the granting of defendants motion for directed verdict - but upheld the granting of summary judgment by the City and certain named defendants. David Cerda represents the plaintiffs and Jim Sotos represents the defendants

Judge rules Mayor Daley is not a proper Section 1983 Defendant in lawsuit filed by Second Amendment Foundation, Inc., and Illinois State Rifle Association

In McDonald v. City of Chicago, 08 C 3645 - 2008 WL 2741216, filed by the Second Amendment Foundation, Inc., and Illinois State Rifle Association - Judge Shadur explains why he sua sponte dismissed Mayor Daley as defendant: "It is of course true that Mayor Daley is a "person" for Section 1983 purposes-the failure of a putative defendant to fit into that concept typically impacts only on the state and its agencies ( Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989)). But any notion that "naming mayors and cities both as defendants in civil rights actions is accepted practice" (Response at 1) is not itself a predicate for targeting Mayor Daley here-that general notion is basically at odds with the teaching of Monell v. Dep't of Social Services of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691 (1978) and its almost innumerable progeny, which ground Section 1983 liability solely on a defendant's direct involvement, rather than on respondeat superior principles. Despite such pejorative characterizations in connection with Chicago-style politics as "King Daley" (a label more often attached to the first Mayor Richard Daley than to the present incumbent), the legal control of Chicago's government is not essentially vested in its Mayor. When the Illinois Municipal Code was revamped and codified in 1961, the one provision of the Revised Cities and Villages Act of 1941 that was not repealed was its Article 21 dealing with the City of Chicago, which was retained and is now found at 65 ILCS 20/0.01 et seq. Nothing in that statute appears to place the matters that are the subject of plaintiffs' Complaint within Mayor Daley's purview. Hence whatever may be the case as to the mayors of cities elsewhere in the United States, or of Illinois cities other than Chicago, to this Court's knowledge the matters that form the gravamen of the present Complaint are not powers vested in Mayor Daley. It should be remembered that Section 1983 liability is generally imposed only on municipal "decisionmakers" (see, e.g., this Court's opinion in Limes-Miller v. City of Chicago, 773 F.Supp. 1130, 1136 (N.D.Ill.1991)). And so far as this Court is aware, the situation here is not of the type that brings into play the variant on that doctrine described in Auriemma v. Rice, 987 F.2d 397, 399 (7th Cir.1992)."

Jury Rejects Wrongful Death Suit Brought By The Family Of Chicago Blues Drummer Fred Grady

A federal court jury yesterday swiftly rejected a wrongful death lawsuit that had been filed by the family of Chicago Blues drummer Fred Grady. After a week long trial, the jury returned its verdict in little over an hour in favor of the City of Chicago and Chicago police officers. Judge Ruben Castillo was the presiding judge in the suit that was heard in the Northern District of Illinois. Grady was involved in a traffic accident on April 8, 2003. He was later arrested and charged with trespassing when he attempted to gain access to his vehicle which had been towed to a private lot. Grady was taken to the police lock-up at 10:30 p.m. He was found dead in his cell at approximately 1:30 a.m. An autopsy conducted by Dr. Eupil Choi of the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office revealed that Grady died of coronary heart disease and the cause of death was natural. At trial, attorneys for Grady's estate contended that Grady died as the result of a police beating in his cell. The jury rejected that claim and found in favor of the City and officers. The defendants were represented by Liza Franklin from the  City of Chicago's Corporation Counsel's office. The plaintiffs were represented by Berve Power. Plaintiffs had asked the jury to award them over $40 million dollars in damages.

Judge Holderman Denies Madison Hobley and Leroy Orange's Motion To Enforce Settlement Agreement

Judge James F. Holderman has denied plaintiffs' consolidated motion to enforce settlement and for sanctions brought by plaintiffs Madison Hobley and Leroy Orange. Plaintiffs had alleged that as of November 3, 2006, attorneys representing the City of Chicago entered into an oral settlement agreement with plaintiffs' counsel but refused to honor the settlement. Judge Holderman stated that "the court finds that there was no final settlement agreement because the proposed agreement was never approved by the Chicago City Council, a contingency all parties' counsel agree was extant and unfulfilled." Plaintiff had contended that the parties had agreed to settle three lawsuits (Madison Hobley, Leroy Orange, and Stanley Howard) for $14.8 million. The court also denied the plaintiffs' motion for sanctions.

Judge Lefkow Grants Motion To Unseal Documents In Diane Bond Case

In a memorandum opinion and order dated July 2, 2007, Northern District of Illinois Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow has granted a motion seeking to strike the confidential designation of documents produced during discovery by the the City of Chicago in a suit brought by Diane Bond. The motion was brought by Jamie Kalven, a self-described writer and journalist. In granting the motion, Judge Lefkow stated: "Court related documents, even those not part of the judicial record, are presumed to be accessible to the public. The documents at issue in this case involve allegations of police misconduct, including the harassment and abuse of public housing residents, a particularly vulnerable group of citizens, and thus touch upon matters of grave public concern. The privacy interests of the defendant officers are diminished because of their status as public officials, and those interests that remain are served by the redaction of certain information from the requested documents. Balancing these interests, good cause no longer exists for shielding the requested materials from public inspection." (Mem. Op. at p. 8).

Jose Lopez Civil Rights Lawsuit Is Dismissed Due To Statute Of Limitations

Judge Der-Yeghiayan has dismissed the civil rights lawsuit filed by plaintiff Jose Lopez, stating: "Plaintiff has filed a cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff has alleged that he was 'arrested and charged' sometime in 2002. (Compl. Par. 7). Plaintiff also alleged that '[a]fter serving several years in jail . . . Plaintiff was tried on the false charges in 2005, whereupon Plaintiff was acquitted of murder.' (Compl. Par. 9). Plaintiff filed the instant action in the Northern District of Illinois on November 15, 2006. Thus, pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Wallace v. Kato, 127 S.Ct. 1091 (2007), the instant action is time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations and we dismiss the instant action." Plaintiff Jose Lopez  was represented by Jon Loevy and Jon Rosenblatt from Loevy & Loevy. The defendants, the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Officers Robert Gliwa, James K. Sanchez, Adrian Garcia, Michael Pietryla and Thomas Flaherty, were represented by Andrew Hale and Eileen Rosen of Rock Fusco, LLC.

Jefferson Tap Beating Case Assigned To Judge Leinenweber

The lawsuit brought by four men who were beaten by off-duty Chicago police officers at the Jefferson Tap and Grille, 323 N. Jefferson Street, in Chicago, has been assigned to the Honorable Harry D. Leinenweber. The plaintiffs are Barry Gilfand, Aaron Gilfand, Adam Mastrucci and Scott Lowrance. The defendants are Sgt. Jeffery Planey, Officer Gregory Barnes, Officer Demetrios Kereakes, Officer Vincent Matthews, Officer Matias Padilla, Officer Paul Powers, Sgt. Dale Kingsley, Officer Kenneth Carlyon, Officer Frederick Collins, Officer Christopher Lindahl, Officer Nicole Mayoski, Officer Ana Pina, Probationary Officer Donald Lupo, Probationary Officer Gregory Morabito, Probationary Officer Sarah Zarcone, and the City of Chicago. Plaintiffs allege that "While finishing a game of billiards, plaintiffs were attacked, without provocation, by six Chicago Police Officers: Sgt. Jeffery Planey, Officer Gregory Barnes, Officer Demetrios Kereakes, Officer Vincent Matthews, Officer Matias Padilla and Officer Paul Powers, who were also patrons of the establishment." The suit alleges that "after assaulting officer Sgt. Planey spoke with the responding officers, instead of the responding officers conducting even a cursory investigation, they all immediately left the scene without intervening." The suit further alleges that "As a result of the attack, plaintiffs all sustained severe physical injuries including, but not limited to: broken ribs, broken and bruised facial bones, injured vertebrae and spinal discs, injured shoulder and neck, injured elbow, serious damage to the hips, bruises, contusions and scrapes. Some of the injuries are likely to be permanent."

City Of Chicago Files Response To Michael Evans' Appeal

The City of Chicago and ten former Chicago police officers have filed their response to Michael Evans' Seventh Circuit appeal. In August 2006, a federal court jury found in favor of the City of Chicago and the police officer defendants, rejecting Evans' claim that he had been framed for the rape and murder of Lisa Cabassa back in 1976. Evans spent 27 years in prison before being released in 2003 when DNA found on a rectal swab did not match Evans. An eyewitness, Judith Januszewski, testified that she saw Evans and his friend Paul Terry abducting Lisa Cabassa on the evening she disappeared. In their appellate brief, the defendants argued that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing testimony by police officers who fully complied with discovery. The defendants also argued that Evans' failure to ask the district court for additional time to conduct discovery waived any claim of prejudice. For example, the defendants' brief states "Tellingly, the primary relief Evans seeks is a remand to 'provide Plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to take fact and expert discovery. Evans never sought this relief from the district court, although the officers suggested it. Evans wanted to go to trial as quickly as possible. Evans apparently now regrets this strategy, but his gamesmanship should not be rewarded with relief he never sought below. Indeed, because Evans never asked the district court for more time for discovery, this argument is waived." (Defendants' brief at p. 38). Defendants are represented on appeal by Benna Ruth  Solomon (Deputy Corporation Counsel), Myriam Zreczny Kasper (Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel), and Jane Elinor Notz (Assistant Corporation Counsel). Evans is represented on appeal by Jon Loevy, of Loevy & Loevy, who was also Evans' lead trial counsel. At trial, the defendants were represented by Andrew Hale, Eileen Rosen and John Rock from Rock Fusco, LLC.

City of Chicago to Pay $8 Million to Larry Ollins and Omar Saunders

The Chicago Tribune has reported that the City of Chicago has reached an agreement to pay $8 million to Larry Ollins and Omar Saunders, two of the men who were convicted of the 1986 rape and murder of medical student Lori Roscetti. Ollins and Saunders were released from prison in 2001. Duane Roach and Eddie Harris pleaded guilty to Roscetti's rape and murder in 2004 and were each sentenced to 75 years in prison. In December 2006, the City of Chicago approved a $900,000 settlement to Marcellius Bradford, who had also been charged with Roscetti's rape and murder. And Calvin Ollins, Larry Ollins' cousin, settled with the City in 2003 for $1.5 million.

City Of Chicago Settles 1998 Police Shooting Case

The City of Chicago has agreed to pay Anton Brown, Tiffany Crawford, Michael Johnson and Joe Rice the collective sum of $1.75 million stemming from a police shooting that took place on June 14, 1998 after the Chicago Bulls had won the NBA championship. The plaintiffs claimed they were shot while driving away from the police. The police officers contended they fired at plaintiffs' car as it headed towards them. The plaintiffs were represented by attorney David Cerda. The defendants were represented by James Sotos.

Madison Hobley, Stanley Howard and Leroy Orange Claim City of Chicago Refusing to Honor Settlement

Attorneys for Madison Hobley, Stanley Howard and Leroy Orange claim in recently filed court papers that the City of Chicago is refusing to honor a collective $14.8 million settlement. The City of Chicago denies that such a settlement was reached and has stated that all settlement talks have been confidential. Hobley, Howard and Orange claim in their federal court lawsuits that they were tortured by former Chicago detective Jon Burge.  A Special Prosecutor report released last July, however, stated that Special Prosecutors did not believe Orange had been tortured and were skeptical of Hobley and Howard's claims.

Jose Lopez Files Suit Against City Of Chicago And Five Chicago Police Officers

Jose Lopez has filed a federal court lawsuit against the City of Chicago and five Chicago Police Officers. Lopez alleges that the defendants violated his rights by framing him for a murder they knew he did not commit. Lopez spent two years in jail awaiting his murder trial. He was subsequently acquitted. Lopez is represented by Jon Loevy at Loevy & Loevy. The City of Chicago and the five Chicago Police Officers are represented by Andrew Hale and Eileen Rosen at Rock Fusco, LLC. The case is pending before the Honorable Samuel Der-Yeghiayan in the Northern District of Illinois.

City Of Chicago Settles With Estate Of Cornelius Ware For $5.25 Million

Last Friday, a federal court jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, the estate of Cornelius Ware, and against the City of Chicago, in the liability phase of plaintiff's civil rights trial. The damages phase was scheduled to commence this week. However, over the weekend, the City of Chicago settled with the plaintiff's estate, agreeing to pay $5.25 million in damages. During the week long trial, plaintiff's attorney Jon Loevy argued that the Chicago Police shot Cornelius Ware when his hands were above his head in a gesture of surrender. The City countered that Ware pointed a gun at the Police Officers, which lead to the shooting. A gun was recovered from Ware's vehicle. Loevy argued that the Police Officers planted the gun, noting that there was no blood on the gun and that there were no fingerprints suitable for comparison obtained from the gun. The nine-person jury heard closing arguments last Friday, and reached their verdict late Friday afternoon. Judge Joan Lefkow presided over the trial.

City Of Chicago Not Sanctioned In Rule 30(b)(6) Dispute

Magistrate Michael Mason has denied plaintiff Oscar Walden's motion for sanctions against the City of Chicago stemming over the City's inability to produce a Rule 30(b)(6) deponent.  Walden was arrested and prosecuted for rape back in 1952 (that's right 1952), which resulted in his conviction by a jury. He served 14 years in prison and in 2003 received an innocence pardon from then-Governor George Ryan. In 2004, Walden filed suit alleging he was falsely arrested for rape, coercively interrogated and subjected to highly suggestive identification procedures. Walden also alleged the Chicago Police Department were acting according to the policies and practices of the City and CPD at the time and that those policies and practices proximately caused his conviction and imprisonment. Walden's attorneys served the City with a Rule 30(b)(6) notice of deposition asking the City to produce a knowledgeable witness to testify as to these alleged polices and practices. The City advised Walden's attorneys that due to the 55-year passage of time and the fact that virtually all of the CPD records created prior to 1960 had been discarded, the City was unable to produce someone competent to testify. Walden's attorneys sought sanctions in the form of a jury instruction that the alleged policies and practices alleged did, indeed, exist at the time, or an order barring the City from challenging Walden's proof of these alleged policies and practices. Magistrate Mason denied Walden's motion for sanctions, stating "The long and short of it is, the City cannot designate a 30(b)(6) witness because it does not have a knowledgeable employee, nor is there any information reasonably available to the City from which it could create a knowledgeable 30(b)(6) witness." Walden is represented by John Stainthorp at the People's Law Office. The City of Chicago is represented by Penelope George and Stephen Baker at the City of Chicago Law Department.

Cornelius Ware v. City of Chicago, et al. - Jury Selection On February 5, 2007

Jury selection commences on Monday, February 5, 2007 in the case of Cornelius Ware vs. City of Chicago, et al. Ware was shot and killed by Chicago police on August 18, 2003 after a high-speed chase and after Ware pointed a revolver at the police. The Honorable Joan H. Lefkow is presiding over the trial in the Northern District of Illinois. The estate of Cornelius Ware is represented by Jon Loevy. The City of Chicago is represented by Joseph Polick and Margaret Carey.

Thompson v. City of Chicago - Seventh Circuit Affirms Motion In Limine Rulings

On December 5, 2000, James Thompson died after he struggled with police officers who were trying to handcuff him. The Cook County Medical Examiner ruled Thompson's death a homicide, concluding that Thompson died at least in part from a "choke hold." Thompson's mother and wife filed suit in the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago and eleven Chicago Police Officers. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated Thompson's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by using excessive force. Prior to trial, the defendants filed several motions in limine including motions seeking to bar the plaintiffs from introducing: (1) the opinion testimony of officers from the CPD's Office of Professional Standards concerning their investigation into Thompson's death and (2) the CPD's General Orders, practices and policies (or the Officers failure to act in accordance with those Orders, practices and policies). The District Court judge, the Honorable Amy J. St. Eve, granted the motions and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs appealed, claiming the District Court erred in granting the motions in limine. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that "[i]n this case, the text of the CPD's General Orders pertaining to the use of force would not have been of any consequence whatsoever and would have failed to advance the inquiry into whether Officer Hespe violated Thompson's Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force in apprehending him." The court stated that "[w]hether Officer Hespe's conduct conformed with the internal CPD General Orders concerning the use of force on an assailant was irrelevant to the jury's determination of whether his actions on December 5, 2000 were 'objectively reasonable' under the Fourth Amendment." Finally, the court affirmed the District Court's exclusion of expert testimony concerning excessive force, stating "whatever insight Inspector Lukas and Sgt. Campbell might have had into whether or why Officer Hespe used excessive force would have been of little value except as to possibly causing confusion and bore a substantial risk of prejudice." The opinion was authored by Judge Coffey and joined by Judges Evans and Williams.

False Arrest Claims - Statute of Limitations

The United States Supreme Court recently held oral argument in Wallace v. City of Chicago, a case which arose out of the arrest of Andre Wallace on charges of murder. After being released from custody in 2002, Wallace filed suit against the City of Chicago and two detectives, alleging, among other things, a false arrest claim. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the false arrest claim, finding the claim to be time-barred. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding the statute of limitations had begun to run on the false arrest claim at the time of arrest. Wallace filed a petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, challenging the Seventh Circuit's determination that his false arrest claim was time-barred and noting that other federal appeals courts have held that the statute of limitations does not begin to run on a false arrest claim until the underlying charges are dismissed. The United States Supreme Court granted Wallace's petition and oral argument was held on November 6, 2006. A decision on this important issue is expected by the Spring of 2007.