Milwaukee Archdiocese Close to Settling Abuse Cases

In an effort to resolve a bankruptcy proceeding, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has agreed to pay $21 million to more than 300 victims of clergy sexual abuse.  The deal still requires approval of the Court. The Milwaukee Archdiocese is one of 12 diocese that has filed for bankruptcy protection to priest sexual abuse cases.  The Church said it has also earmarked $500,000 for a therapy fund.  It is estimated that the payout will be $44,000 per victim.

Federal Court Allows Negligence Claim of Unborn Fetus to Proceed Against Mother’s Employer

Sidney Mejia was employed by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago as the Office Manager/Billing Coordinator.  In September, 2012, she informed her supervisor that she was 12 weeks pregnant with her first child.  She also disclosed that she was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy.  Mejia claimed that after disclosing that she was pregnant, she was demoted to the position of Program Assistant.  She also claimed that her employer required her to perform manual labor tasks including moving heavy cabinets, moving heavy paper shredding bins and scrubbing the carpets in the office.  On January 23, 2013, Mejia suffered an anxiety attack, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital to avoid premature labor.  On January 28, Mejia went into premature labor.  Mejia was then terminated on February 15, 2013.  She claims that her son suffers from developmental delays because of the premature birth.  She filed suit in federal court, and among other claims, asserted a negligence claim on behalf of her son against the employer for causing the premature birth.  Catholic Charities sought to dismiss the claim, arguing that it was a novel theory.  District Court Judge Robert Dow denied the Defendant's Motion, and allowed the son's claim to proceed, affirming the right of an unborn child to have a personal injury claim against the party who caused it.  The case will now proceed into the discovery phase.

Supreme Court Rules Against Abercrombie & Fitch In Religious Failure to Hire Claim

Recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in an employment discrimination lawsuit.  Abercrombie has a "look policy" which governs what its employees can wear - specifically, the employer barred its employees from wearing hats.  Samantha Elauf is a practicing Muslim.  In accordance with her faith, she wears a headscarf.  Elauf applied for a job and Heather Cooke, the store's assistant manager, found she was qualified.  Cooke, however, thought that the headscarf would violate the look policy.  She conferred with Randall Johnson, the district manager.  Johnson told Cooke not to hire her as it would violate the look policy, and Cooke followed the instruction.  The EEOC filed suit, alleging that the retailer discriminated against her on the basis of religion.  While the district court found in her favor, the appeals court reversed, reasoning that an employer could not be held liable for failure to accomodate unless the applicant or employee provides the employer with actual need for a religious accomodation.  The United States Supreme Court reversed, reasoning that the plaintiff need only show that the need for a religious accomodation was a motivating factor in the employment decision.  While this was a case decided on fairly narrow facts, it was a very big victory for employees, who in the future, need not specifically voice their request for an accomodation.

Appellate Court Clarifies Whistleblower Act

In a recent decision, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that where a defendant did not act within the scope of his or her employment, there can be no liability under the state whistleblower act.  In August, 2006, Sara Meegan was hired to teach English at George Washington High School in Chicago.  Two years later, in February, 2008, the principal, Florence Gonzalez, told Meegan that the school was going to terminate her employment due to a decrease in enrollment.  In April, 2008, Meegan attended a meeting called by the Chicago Teachers Union.  At the meeting, Meegan stated that the gang activity at the school was caused by "disgruntled teachers instigating the students to violence."  In August, 2008, Carlos Munoz, the principal of Amundsen High School, interviewed Meegan for a job.  Munoz extended a job offer to Meegan, but later rescinded it after Gonzalez described her as "dishonest, habitually tardy, [and] often absent."  Munoz also claimed that Meegan failed to complete her work.  Meegan filed a lawsuit asserting various claims and sought attorneys fees for Gonzalez' alleged defamatory statements at the union meeting.  Though Meegan was successful at trial, the appellate court held since Gonzalez was not acting as Meegan's employer, she could not be held liable under the Whistleblower Act.

Eugene Hollander Interviewed by Karen Conti on WGN Radio about sexual abuse cases

[uber_audio id="3" accent_color="#6b3100" second_color="#8a8a8a" playlist="0" ui="light" width="250px"]Numerous claims involving alleged sexual abuse have been featured in the headlines lately, including those involving former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, and Bill Cosby. Eugene K. Hollander,  has handled numerous sexual abuse cases against the Archdiocese of Chicago, including a recent settlement of $1.25 million involving former priest, Daniel McCormack.  On the evening of July 5, 2015, he discussed the issues of the day with fellow attorney Joseph Klest on Karen Conti’s radio program on WGN radio.    

The Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus Settles Sexual Abuse Claim for $950,000

Chicago – June 29th, 2015 – The Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus has paid $950,000 to settle a lawsuit with a Chicago man who alleges he was sexually abused by Father Donald O’Shaughnessy while he attended Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois. Eugene K. Hollander of The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander represents the victim and it isn’t his first case against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus. Hollander settled another claim against them for $750,000 in 2013 on behalf of another man, Bill Reidy, who claimed that he was also sexually abused by O’Shaughnessy while he attended Loyola Academy. Eugene Hollander says: “I’m relieved that we have been able to get some justice for this victim and hopefully he can now start to move forward with his life. I believe there are probably other victims out there and hopefully this recent news will encourage them to come forward so they can seek justice, too.”   O'Shaughnessy was a Jesuit priest for over 70 years, serving in Chicago, Illinois, Cincinnati, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, Milford, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Oakland, California, and Clarkston, Michigan. O’Shaughnessy died at the age of 89 in July 2013.

How to Recognize Police Misconduct

Law enforcement officials are supposed to be pillars of the community. They have been trained to watch over citizens and protect them from those who would do them harm. Because of their incredible amount of power and influence, the police are ostensibly held to very high standards regarding misconduct. When a law enforcement professional fails to follow the letter of the law and act in accordance with his or her position, there must be repercussions. Recognizing police misconduct is part of how society holds law enforcement accountable. You cannot assume that an officer’s actions are legal simply because he or she is an officer. Citizens should know how to identify police misconduct and the process used to hold officers accountable. When the Police Do Not Obey the Law The United States Constitution, and legislation like the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related laws are intended to protect the nation’s citizens from government abuses. Section 1983 is the main civil rights law plaintiffs rely on in cases of police misconduct. The statute prevents officers and other state officials from taking away an individual’s constitutional rights. Any police officer who arrests an individual by using excessive force or without the evidence necessary to make an arrest may be brought to justice under this statute. Recognizing Misconduct Police misconduct can be difficult to identify. Sometimes the violations are egregious, but many police misconduct incidents ride a fine line between what is legal and what is not. Any time a law enforcement official uses excessive force or treats an individual noticeably different from others, it could be grounds for a case of misconduct. Other indicators of misconduct commonly involve strip searches or sexual assault. An officer should never make you feel dehumanized. The arresting process is intended to secure suspects for further evaluation, not to pass judgment or provide sentencing. Coercion and racial profiling are other forms of police misconduct that personal injury attorneys come across on a regular basis. If you feel that you or your loved one has been treated unfairly, contact an attorney for a free consultation. A personal injury attorney like the experienced lawyers at The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander can help you determine whether or not an action is legal and how to proceed if it is not. Read this article on How to Report Police Misconduct. Interacting with Law Enforcement in a Police Encounter It is imperative that all citizens know what police may or may not do. When stopped or questioned by police you have the right to: Remain silent. If you wish to exercise this right, say so out loud. Tell the officers that you will not consent to speak until you have consulted an attorney. Refuse consent to search. If not under arrest, you always have the right to leave. If arrested, you have the right to an attorney. Contact one right away. Acting out in the presence of law enforcement officials is never advisable. It is your responsibility to remain calm and to be polite. It is important that you do not interfere with or obstruct the police in any way.  Sometimes the police will disregard your rights or step beyond their bounds. Here are a few things to remember when dealing with police misconduct: Remain civil Write everything down Consult an attorney Even if you are not sure whether an officer’s behavior is legal, it is imperative to keep a record of everything that happened to the best of your knowledge. An attorney will use the information to supplement an independent investigation and build a case fighting for your rights. For more information about police misconduct in the Chicago and surrounding areas, please contact our dedicated personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander today.

How To Report Police Misconduct or Brutality in Illinois

During the last year, and for much of the last half century, police brutality has been a topic of debate in the United States. People want their public servants held to a high standard of conduct, without unnecessarily limiting the ability of law enforcement professionals to perform their protective roles. When police officers fail to follow protocols and maintain a high standard of ethics, they are abusing the power invested in them. Often, victims of police brutality are left fearful of the justice system and feel there is no outlet for recourse. Police misconduct can have devastating effects. It rips apart lives, families, and communities in ways that affect entire cities, like New York, Ferguson, and Chicago. Police Discrimination Statistics in Chicago 33% of Chicago’s population is African-American, but the arrest rate of black youth in the city is disproportionately high. In 2011, 77% of the Chicago Police Department’s youth arrests were of African-Americans and in 2012 that figure rose to 79%. The Chicago Police Department’s use of stun guns also came under fire in the report. 92% of the Chicago Police Department’s use of stun guns from 2009 to 2011 involved black and Latino targets. Stun gun manufacturers and law enforcement agencies claim that their implementation and use will reduce police involvement in shootings. However, as the Chicago Reporter observed, black residents are 10 times more likely than their white neighbors to be shot by a police officer. Most chilling of all, the report details that it is rare for Chicago police officers to be held accountable for misconduct. Of 10,149 excessive force, illegal search, racial abuse and false arrest complaints filed against Chicago police officers between 2002 and 2004, only 124 were sustained. A University of Chicago Law School report published in 2007 stated that brutality complaints filed against police in Chicago are 94% less likely to be sustained than anywhere else in the US. Only 0.48% of brutality complaints are sustained, compared to 8% nationally. How to Hold the Police Accountable  Many organizations of disparate affiliations and creeds are advocating for greater scrutiny of police departments. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has established the National Police Misconduct Project to raise awareness throughout the country. Anyone who wants to raise awareness of a case may do so through their project, but should know that anything described to them is fair game for publication. State, county, local, and municipal police departments have published complaint procedures. The Illinois State Police have a complaint process published online. However, it is very difficult to have a complaint successfully and thoroughly addressed through these processes. Obtaining expert legal counsel is one of the best ways to gain an equal footing with the police department. An attorney who is familiar with local police statutes and state laws will be able to help you take meaningful and timely action against misconduct.  Police misconduct and brutality can have devastating effects. Personal injury and wrongful death claims may arise from police brutality. Citizens are entitled to protection from abuse by those entrusted to protect and serve them. There are a few things to remember when dealing with police misconduct: Write everything down Consult with an attorney File a police misconduct report. The timing of a misconduct report is often strategic in light of pending criminal and civil cases. An attorney can help you with this process. It is important to follow these steps in order. Maintaining good records, whether written, audio, or video, can bolster claims made in civil and criminal courts. Filing a misconduct report can only occur after civil or criminal proceedings have been finished. Get in contact with Eugene K. Hollander Law immediately if a police officer has victimized you or a loved one.

Most Dangerous Intersections in Chicago

Chicago has always been a busy city. As with most metropolitan areas, cars dart around the streets and alleys of the city trying to move quickly from one area to another. Distracted habits at intersections make some of our city’s crossings incredibly dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians. While Chicago is generally considered a prime example of excellent city planning, there are some strange crossroads that present hazards to people traveling in the city. Near the end of 2014, the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago released a list of the most dangerous intersections in the city. They looked at both metro and suburban areas to determine the 10 most dangerous intersections in each space. A six-way intersection where Milwaukee, North, and Damen Avenues meet on the North Side tops the list for the most dangerous place for pedestrians in the entire city. In suburban areas, the convergence of N. McCormick Boulevard and W. Touhy Avenue is the most dangerous crossing. The report also includes pedestrian data that may shock those who routinely travel throughout the city on foot. It highlights the fact that 84% of accidents in Illinois happen in the metro Chicago area. 78% of pedestrian accidents happen in a 125-foot radius of intersections. The report does not indicate whether the increased danger at intersections is due to distracted driving, pedestrian negligence, or other factors, but does project a need for increased caution for motorists and pedestrians moving through the areas. According to the Chicago Tribune, an Alliance campaign director has cited simple fixes, like better crosswalk signals, as possible solutions for the intersection danger. As a result of the study, an effort called Safe Crossings launched with the goal of increasing intersection danger awareness and improving the pedestrian experience throughout the city. Other metro intersections listed in the study include: N. Cicero Avenue and W. Chicago Avenue N. Halsted Street, N. Lincoln Avenue, and W. Fullerton Avenue S. Cottage Grove Avenue and E. 79th Street N. Dearborn Street and W. Ontario Street S. Ashland Avenue and W. 63rd Street Safety Tips for Avoiding an Accident  Some accidents are more avoidable than others, but using caution and common sense can prevent the majority of car accidents and make intersections in Chicago a safer place for drivers and pedestrians. Follow these tips to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a pedestrian accident: Do not cross the street while looking down at a cell phone or at your shoes. Keep your attention on the street, and look both ways even if you see the crossing light change. Do not jaywalk. Even in places where it is socially acceptable, it is still illegal and presents an additional hazard to drivers. Help elderly individuals cross the roadway. They are more likely than others to be hit in a crosswalk accident. By walking with someone, an elderly person’s overall profile is increased, making him or her more easily visible to drivers. Older individuals may also need assistance in the event of a fall in the intersection. Try to make contact with drivers. It is the only way to know for sure that you have been recognized by the driver while crossing the street. How EKH Law Can Help In the event that you are involved in a pedestrian accident at any intersection in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, contact a Chicago personal injury attorney. At Eugene K. Hollander Law Offices, we understand how pedestrian accidents affect victims. The accidents are often severe and can have life-altering impacts. Please contact our team today if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a motor vehicle. Whether the vehicle was a privately owned car, taxi, bus, train, or any other vehicle, we are ready to help you through a difficult time and receive the compensation you deserve.

Where Liability Lies in Tailgating Accidents

Tailgating is a time-honored tradition among sports enthusiasts in the United States. However, participants in this recreational activity are at risk of injury or even death. Various parties are held liable when these accidents occur. Many organizations hold tailgating parties, and the law stipulates liability for accidents depending on the circumstances. Some tailgating hosts are trying to protect themselves by creating and enforcing regulations, or barring tailgating altogether. Those who have negligence or wrongful death claims should understand how liability is determined by consulting with an expert. Who May Be Liable for Injuries While Tailgating?  Parties may be liable for various reasons, even though they are all essentially doing the same thing. Stadiums, universities, social clubs, and individuals are all different in the eyes of the law. Negligence, recklessness, assault, and many other tort theories govern how courts determine liability. When tailgating outside of a stadium, injuries can be attributed to a feature of the tailgating area, such as the parking lot. Under the legal theory of premises liability, the owners of stadiums and parking lots may be liable for damages when accidents occur. These parties are also required to have adequate security in place to prevent injuries caused by tailgaters assaulting one another. Universities are legally responsible for injuries that happen during pre-game tailgating. Schools are held to a higher standard than stadiums because of their relationship with the student body. This means they can face higher damages when held responsible for student injuries while on campus. Social clubs like fraternities and sororities may be held responsible for injuries that are caused by accidents at events they sponsor. Social host liability laws, while they may not place liability on hosts for serving minors, do make them liable for injuries incurred by intoxicated individuals. In cases where the club itself cannot be sued, injured parties may be able to sue each member personally. Individuals can also be liable if they caused injuries or failed to prevent them. Whether it is assault and battery after picking a fight with someone while intoxicated or negligence by hitting a tailgater with your car, individuals can be held accountable for their actions while tailgating. How Have Organizations Responded? Stadium and team owners have begun placing limits on tailgating due to tragic accidents that resulted in hefty damages rewards or large settlements. Some Chicago Stadiums do not allow tailgating, but Soldier Field and US Cellular Field allow tailgating under specified conditions. Soldier Field may suspend tailgating indefinitely so Chicago Bears fans, weary of lawsuits caused by irresponsible behavior, have established informal rules of conduct. Higher education institutions around the US have begun to regulate tailgating to limit their liability. Northwestern University has established a permitting system for tailgating and is trying to strike a balance between upholding a cherished tradition for alumni and students and the university’s legal liability for accidents and injuries. Schools in Illinois have varying rules, so check with the college or university prior to making tailgating plans. What to Do if Injured While Tailgating Organizations and sports fans alike are interested in limiting liability in tailgating accidents. When involved in any sort of accident while tailgating it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Maintain all medical records and comply with any and all physicians’ recommendations, particularly tests or other procedures. If you believe you may be due compensation for your injuries sustained while tailgating, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer that can assist you in presenting a strong case.