Judge Reduces Jury Verdict Against Chicago Police from $7.9 Million to $1.9 Million

 In a 17-page Order dated January 26, 2009, United States District Court Judge Ruben Castillo reduced a jury verdict against the City of Chicago and three Chicago police officers from $7.9 million to $1.9 million. The plaintiff in the case, Rachelle Jackson, had sued three Chicago police officers and the City of Chicago claiming she was falsely arrested and detained for attempting to disarm a Chicago police officer. Ms. Jackson was arrested on November 19, 2002 for attempting to disarm Chicago police officer Kelly Brogan after Brogan's squad car was involved in a serious automobile accident. Ms. Jackson admitted to pulling Officer Brogan out of the squad car and placing her in a "full nelson" hold but claimed she was trying to rescue Officer Brogan, not disarm her. Ms. Jackson spent ten months in jail before her criminal charges were ultimately dismissed at trial. Ms. Jackson then filed a civil suit against the Chicago police officers involved in her arrest. Following a nine-day jury trial, the jury awarded Ms. Jackson $7.9 million on her various claims. In granting the defendants' motion for a remittitur, Judge Castillo agreed that the jury's damage award was "monstrously excessive," not rationally related to the evidence presented, and out of range with awards in similar cases. Judge Castillo noted that "[t]here was no evidence that Plaintiff requires professional treatment for mental or emotional distress (other than her alcohol treatment), nor was there any evidence of lost wages, medical expenses, or other out-of-pocket losses. Based on the evidence an award of $7.9 million in compensatory damages was grossly excessive." Judge Castillo reduced plaintiff's compensatory damages to $1.9 million. This is only the second time in fifteen years that Judge Castillo has modified a jury verdict. Defendants were represented at trial by attorneys Andrew Hale, Avi Kamionski and Ebone Liggins of the law firm of Andrew M. Hale & Associates, LLC.

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.