June 2015 Legal Trends Spotlights Settlements With Archdiocese for Sexual Abuse Claims and Multi-Plaintiff Employment Case With Uline, Inc.
In this issue of Legal Trends, we focus our discussion on the settlement of five sexual abuse cases with the Archdiocese of Chicago and the settlement of a four plaintiff sexual harassment lawsuit against Uline, Inc.
Personal Injury Law
Hollander Law Offices Settles Five Sexual Abuse Claims For Over $3,500,000.
The Hollander Law Offices settled a claim of alleged sexual abuse on behalf of a man in his late 20’s against the Archdiocese of Chicago for $1,250,000. The man claims that he was sexually abused by Father Daniel McCormack. The settlement took place shortly before the trial which was scheduled for May 26.
Daniel J. McCormack was ordained as a priest by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1994 and was considered a rising star within the Church. He was initially assigned to St. Ailbe’s parish on Chicago’s west side. It was there that the priest encountered Hollander’s client, known only in court filings as John Doe, to protect his identity. The priest befriended Doe, who claimed that he was subsequently sexually assaulted during the fourth and fifth grades while he was a student at the school.
Doe claims to have suppressed the memories of abuse during his childhood until he heard the story break about the Jerry Sandusky scandal in 2011. At that time, Doe began to remember the incidents of abuse. He filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County in 2012.
The man claims that the abuse completely affected his life. The victim has been facing daily challenges according to his attorney, Eugene Hollander. Hollander said that “every aspect of my client’s life has been affected. My client’s childhood was taken away.” The victim is still in therapy to cope with the issues regarding the abuse, and constantly relives what happened to him. Hollander said that “while it has been a difficult journey, my client refused to suffer in silence.” Hollander said that his client is hopeful that with the proceeds of the settlement he can begin to put his life back together.
Unlike most of the sexual abuse claims involving McCormack, this man’s claim was unique, said Hollander, because it occurred at McCormack’s first pastoral assignment. McCormack was assigned to St. Ailbe’s from 1994-1997. McCormack subsequently pled guilty to five charges of criminal sexual abuse, but not involving his client. McCormack remains at a mental health facility downstate where the state has begun involuntary commitment proceedings against him.
The settlement occurred the day before the hearing at which Hollander was seeking to compel McCormack’s appearance at trial as well as an evidentiary hearing to pursue a punitive damage claim.
Hollander had earlier settled four other McCormack cases for victims who claimed that they were sexually abused while at St. Agatha’s parish, one of McCormack’s later assignments. Those claims were resolved for a combined $2,300,000.
The Hollander Law Offices still has a pending lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago for a claim of sexual abuse involving Dan McCormack. No trial date has yet been scheduled for that case.
Four Former Employees Settle Sex Harassment Case Against Uline, Inc. for confidential sum.
In the November, 2013 issue of Legal Trends, we reported a new case filing against Uline, Inc., a large distributor of office and industrial products. Our clients, Allen Fuesting, Jonathan Savage, Joshua Gehrig and Laurie Garza, were employed as warehouse employees.
In March, 2015, the parties settled their claims for a confidential sum. The evidence gathered during the discovery process revealed a work atmosphere that was less than ideal.
Scott Zinghsheim was the Warehouse Manager of the company’s plant in Waukegan. Fuesting testified that Zingsheim repeatedly engaged in sexually offensive behavior with him. Savage testified that Zingsheim and the Warehouse Department Manager, Jim Small, engaged in untoward behavior with him. Garza was also a target of Zingsheim’s harassment. On several occasions, according to her testimony, he would come up behind her and lift up her shirt, claiming that it was a “uniform inspection.” Garza also testified that Zingsheim made frequent lewd remarks in her presence. Gehrig testified that Zingsheim backhanded him in the groin while he was operating a piece of machinery, and repeated this behavior several times.
Fuesting testified that he previously complained to Brad Harper, the Illinois Branch Manager, and even the company’s Chief Executive Officer, but that nothing changed. In March, 2012, Fuesting and Savage sent written complaints to the company’s Human Resources department. Human Resources initiated an investigation. Following their investigation, the company gave written warnings to Zingsheim and Small.
Evidence in the case revealed that the Human Resources Director sent the company President an e-mail, stating that, “We need to determine next steps with Al (Fuesting), otherwise I anticipate the complaints will continue…I would recommend we put a severance package together.” The company then terminated Fuesting’s and Savage’s employment.
Once the Hollander Law Offices filed suit, Garza appeared in a story covered by CBS-2 Chicago. Following the airing of the story, the company fired her as well. The case resolved shortly after the Human Resources Director was deposed.
Former General Manager Files Age Discrimination Lawsuit Against Rosebud Restaurants, Inc.
Daniel Miller grew up with the owner of the Rosebud Restaurant chain, Alex Dana. Miller thought that he had little to worry about, having worked as the General Manager for The Rosebud restaurant on Taylor Street for more than two decades. Miller’s world came crashing down upon him in October 2013, when at age 71, he was discharged from his job. The company replaced him with a 25 year old individual whom Miller trained.
Miller claims that Dana told him that he would always be taken care of, and that he would manage a restaurant in Florida that he was thinking of opening. That never happened, and Miller has not worked since his termination. On June 15, 2015, Miller filed suit against the chain alleging age discrimination. He seeks backpay and future wages in addition to his attorney’s fees.
Rosebud Restaurants is no stranger to employment litigation. In September, 2006, the Hollander Law Offices obtained a $380,000 jury verdict in a pregnancy discrimination case against the chain, Buffone v. Rosebud Restaurants, Inc. After the Court awarded attorney’s fees, the case settled for a confidential sum before an appeal was heard.
In 2010, the Hollander Law Offices settled another lawsuit which it brought against the company for pregnancy discrimination.
The client, Jill McDonnell, was an Assistant Manager at the company’s Ballo restaurant. McDonnell claimed that Alex Dana told her “don’t go getting pregnant because that’s the fastest way to lose your job.” Once she became pregnant, the company terminated her employment. The case later settled for a confidential sum.