December, 2016 Issue of Legal Trends
Legal Trends Highlights Sexual Abuse Lawsuit and Employment Discrimination Case.
In this issue of Legal Trends, we discuss two recent court filings by The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander – one involves a sexual molestation case against Orland School District 135 and the other claim is an employment discrimination case against Fieldwork Chicago.
Hollander Law Offices Files Suit Against Orland School District 135 In Sexual Abuse Case.
By outward appearances, teacher and basketball coach Cara Labus was a doting individual upon her students and players when she was assigned to Jerling Junior High School within Orland School District 135. That image was shattered in January, 2015, when Labus was indicted on four counts of sexual assault upon two former girls who were students of the school.
On October 19, 2016, the girls, known in court documents only as Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2, filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against the school district and the teacher’s ex-husband for the alleged molestation. As of the date of this newsletter, neither defendant has formally responded to the allegations.
In their suit, the girls alleged that they played on the girls’ basketball team when they attended Jerling. Once they graduated from Jerling, both girls returned to assistant coach with Labus. The girls claim that from 2008 – 2012, Labus sexually abused them multiple times, including times at her home when her then husband was present.
The girls’ claims against the district are subject to a higher standard than those against Labus’s ex-husband, Travis Powers. Under Illinois law, the girls are required to prove that the district acted in a willful and wanton manner. We believe that the evidence in the case will be that a former school superintendent warned a school official about Labus’ alleged criminal behavior, but that the district failed to properly act upon the admonition. The girls claim that they were sexually abused after this warning was made.
The claim against Powers is based upon ordinary negligence. Should the girls recover against Powers, the claims would likely be covered by the homeowners insurance that he had in place at the time.
Regardless, the girls’ damages are substantial. Labus’s alleged activity included grooming the girls, meaning that she engaged in various activities to gain their trust before she allegedly sexually assaulted them. The grooming behavior alleged to have occurred in this case included taking the girls out to dinner and giving them gifts. Research has shown that when the assailant grooms her victims, the victims suffer
far greater emotional trauma as the trust factor is broken between the perpetrator and the victim.
Prior to her indictment, Labus left the Orland Park School District and became a teacher in Joliet. As of the date of this newsletter, Labus’ criminal case is still pending. Should she plead guilty to the charges, it would aid the girls in their civil case. Regardless, there is ample incriminating evidence against Labus, including inappropriate photographs of her and the girls, as well as text messages that she exchanged with them.
Eugene K. Hollander was selected as an Illinois Super Lawyer for 2017 in the field of employment litigation, marking the thirteenth consecutive year that he has received this honor. On December 1, Eugene Hollander addressed young lawyers attending IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Solo & Small Practice Incubator program at the law school.