Partner Emanuel C. Welch and Associate Meaghen A. Russell Win a Motion for Summary Judgment
CHICAGO-On August 25, 2010, just three weeks before the start of a federal civil rights trial on claims of excessive force, failure to intervene, and state law battery, Judge John W. Darrah granted a motion for summary judgment dismissing all claims against six Cicero police officers who were represented by firm partner Emanuel C. Welch and associate Meaghen A. Russell.
In the case of Jose Dimas Soriano v. The Town of Cicero et al, 06 CV 774, the plaintiff had sued the Town of Cicero and six police officers in their individual capacities after he was shot and wounded by one of the police officers after he tried to run over another police officer with his mini van on Easter Sunday, April 11, 2004. The plaintiff was subsequently convicted on several criminal charges, but he still brought a federal civil rights lawsuit for injuries he sustained from the shooting. Specifically, Soriano alleged that officers used excessive force, failed to intervene, and committed state law battery.
On behalf of the individual defendant officers, the defense argued that Soriano was collaterally estopped from arguing those claims since a criminal court jury had convicted Soriano of the crimes charged against him and that the officers had qualified immunity in their actions because their actions against Mr. Soriano were reasonable. Judge Darrah agreed with the defendants saying that "In light of these dangerous circumstances, reasonable officers would have reacted as the defendants did in this case."
Judge Darrah's grant of summary judgment avoided a two or three week trial and a potential multi-million dollar verdict had a jury found against any of the officers. Under federal law, the plaintiff would have also been allowed to ask a jury to grant punitive damages against each officer which each officer would have been personally liable for under the law.
"This was a great victory for the Town and the individual police officers." Welch said. "Decisions like this will help make a police officers job a lot easier."
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