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Case Notes: September 2017

CASE NOTES

Summaries of recent legal matters in and around Chicago

BARGOER RECOVERS FOR INJURIES FROM ALTERCATION WITH BOUNCERS

Jesus Perez v. Cubby Bear Chicago LLC

Cook County Case No. 15 L 9076

The 33-year old male Plaintiff was at a bar near Wrigley Field with a group of friends when bar personnel ejected one of the group. Plaintiff and his other friends became embroiled in a fracas with the bar security employees. He sustained a broken arm and a broken hand, leading to almost $85,00 in medical costs and $45,00 in lost wages. Plaintiff claimed the bar employees used excessive force in escorting him from the premises.

The Defense claimed the bar security personnel used ordinary care as they were escorting out Plaintiff's disruptive companion when Plaintiff and the rest of his group started a large fight. During the fight, Plaintiff allegedly punched a bar employee and a window. At trial, the Defense faced a serious issue when the Court issued a missing evidence jury instruction because the Defense failed to produce surveillance video of the incident despite having a policy to review and preserve surveillance videotapes.

Plaintiff was awarded $204,500 which included all of his medical costs and lost wages, and $75,000 for pain and suffering.

NO RECOVERY FOR ASSAULTED NURSE

Cheryl Lavergne v. Star Detective & Security Agency Inc., et al.

Cook County Case No. 15 L 1234

The 55-year old female Plaintiff was working as a nurse one morning when she was approached by a homeless man. The man had been brought to the hospital earlier, for alcohol intoxication, and had been allowed to spend the night in the ER waiting room pursuant to a hospital policy regarding intoxicated homeless persons. When he awoke, the man asked a security guard about his bag. The guard directed the man to Plaintiff who, the guard said, had been there overnight. The man quickly became agitated with Plaintiff, who went to ask the guard to remove the man. As she went to do so, the man struck her in the face. Plaintiff sustained head trauma, spinal injuries and PTSD, leading to approximately $150,000 in medical costs and $650,000 in lost wages.

Plaintiff contended that the Defendant security guard and his employer failed to protect and assist her, failed to timely intervene and failed to control and restrain Plaintiff's assailant.

The Defense simply argued that the man who attacked Plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of her injuries. This strategy proved successful; the jury returned a full not guilty verdict.

ANOTHER BARGOER RECOVERS FOLLOWING ALTERCATION WITH BAR SECURITY

Michael Griffin v. Chase Western Inc., Prairie Dog Limited Partnership d/b/a Mullen's Bar & Grill

Cook County Case No. 14 L 9737

This 34-year old male Plaintiff was at another bar near Wrigley Field when he was ejected by one of the bar's security personnel. In the process, he was knocked unconscious and sustained a fractured wrist and head lacerations.

Plaintiff contended that Defendants negligently hired and trained the security guard who allegedly grabbed Plaintiff and forcibly ejected him for no reason.

The Defense contended that Plaintiff was drunk and belligerent and refused to leave. It further claimed that Plaintiff threw elbows while being escorted out and used a racial slur with the security guard.

This matter went to trial in 2016, with a verdict rendered for $46,122 that was reduced, by 49% for contributory negligence, to $23,522. However, a new trial was granted because the jury had awarded nothing for pain and suffering which was a proven element of damages. This time around, Plaintiff fared much better. He received a verdict of $275,000 which was only reduced by 15%, to $233,750.

TEACHER LOSES DEFAMATION SUIT BASED ON ALLEGED ACCUSATIONS OF ABUSE

Leah Czuhajewski v. Sarah Abedelal, et al.

Cook County Case No. 14 L 10615

The 24-year old female Plaintiff was once a special education teacher at a Chicago public elementary school. She was involved in an incident with a student with autism, wherein she physically restrained or otherwise interacted with the student. Plaintiff thereafter resigned in lieu of undergoing disciplinary proceedings. She did find another full-time job, after four months of unemployment, but allegedly remains barred from working for Chicago Public Schools.

Plaintiff claimed that Defendants - the school principal (and Plaintiff's supervisor), an assistant in Plaintiff's classroom, and a school bus monitor - all defamed her by making false statements to the Department of Children & Family Services and to another student's mother, that Plaintiff had abused a student. Plaintiff denied abusing the student, arguing that she used appropriate teaching methods as part of a comprehensive behavioral intervention plan to handle the student's outbursts. Plaintiff claimed her reputation, career and emotional well-being were damaged.

The Defense denied they had defamed Plaintiff because their statements were substantially true, Plaintiff was not authorized by the student's individualized education plan to perform any physical restraint, and the subject conduct was more than just momentary physical intervention.

The jury returned a not guilty verdict as to all Defendants.

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