Category Archives: Personal injury

Boy Scout Victim Files Sexual Abuse Claim After Reviewing Secret Files

An Illinois man recently filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against his former Boy Scout troopmaster and the Boy Scouts of America alleging that he was sexually abused by Thomas Hacker in 1985 when he was 10 years old.  The plaintiff went online and reviewed the once secret "perversion files" after the Boy Scouts of America were ordered to release the files in an unrelated case from Oregon.  The plaintiff claimed that he "compartmentalized" the memories of abuse, making him unable to file suit until now.  Without such an allegation, a court would likely find that the plaintiff's claim was untimely due to the statute of limitations.  The plaintiff is now married with a family.  The former scoutmaster, Hacker, is serving a 100 year prison sentence for sexual molestation.  The former troopmaster told a psychiatrist that he had sexually abused more than 100 boys.  A state agency concluded that he had sexually molested 34 victims in Illinois.  While it is expected that this litigation may take time to resolve, other claims involving Hacker settled for substantial sums of money.

Local Boy Scout Victim Describes Fear Pain and Shame

This blog recently detailed the release of secret files maintained by the Boy Scouts of America, which were also known as the "perversion files."  The files contained information regarding the sexual abuse perpetrated by scout leaders upon young scouts.  A recently lawsuit by a former scout in DuPage County against the Boy Scouts claims that he was sexually molested, causing him to quit the troop.  The man, now 43, claims that he was repeatedly sexually assaulted.  The man filed suit in 2011, claiming that the organization was negligent in supervising the scoutmaster.  The man in the DuPage County case claims that he repressed the memories of the abuse until 2010.  Recent case law from the Illinois Supreme Court would bar the claim due to the statute of limitations unless the man could demonstrate that the Boy Scouts acted fraudulently, for instance in hiding the scoutmaster's background, or if he repressed or suppressed the memories of sexual molestation.  The scoutmaster identified in the lawsuit, Gary L. Monroe, was prosecuted in a similar sexual abuse case, for which he is serving prison time in Wisconsin.  In 1989, Monroe was required to register as a sex offender in Illinois.  We expect that many more local claims will be filed against the Boy Scouts of America.

Boy Scout Files Demonstrate 39 Alleged Cases of Sexual Abuse in Chicago Area

We previously reported on this blog that the Los Angeles Times obtained the "perversion files" which the Boy Scouts of America maintained regarding alleged sexual abuse perpetrated by scoutmasters upon young scouts.  The files were released pursuant to an order of the Oregon Supreme Court from a 2010 lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts alleging sexual abuse.  A more localized analysis of those files demonstrates that in the Chicago area, there were 39 such cases of alleged sexual molestation.  Local files show that after scouting officials were notified of potential sexual abuse claims, they let the accused volunteers leave.  In one case involving a Cicero victim, the volunteer scoutmaster was allowed to "resign," and the Boy Scouts did not contact the police.  The files also show that in instances where the scoutmaster was accused of sexual abuse, the Boy Scouts let the leader continue to volunteer.  In one case, a scout leader was accused by seven boys of sexual abuse.  The organization concluded that the boys may have provoked the scoutmaster's actions, but nonetheless, temporarily banned the leader from volunteering.  A number of years later, however, the Boy Scouts let the scoutmaster back in 1981 in the Spring Grove area.  In 1984, he was accused of having sexual contact with a boy.  The volunteer was accused in another case of sexual abuse and was convicted.  He has since died.

Boy Scout Files Show History of Sexual Abuse

The Los Angeles Times obtained 3,100 files regarding evidence of sexual abuse perpetrated by scoutmasters while they were affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.  The files were provided by a Seattle attorney who has repeatedly sued the Boy Scouts for sexual molestation.  The files were opened from 1947 and 2005, and had documentation concerning biographical data, legal records, letters and scouts' accounts of alleged sexual abuse.  It was also learned that the Boy Scouts destroyed an unknown number of files over the years.  The case files demonstrated that the instances of alleged sexual abuse arose where the scoutmaster was left alone with boys - this is a practice that the Boy Scouts have long discouraged and officially prohibited since 1987.  A significant number of the cases arose outside of official scouting activities.  In more than 50 situations, Scoutmasters abused more than 10 boys before they were expelled.  According to certain sources, the Boy Scouts were advised in the 1990s to look for patterns of sexual abuse, but the recommendation was ignored.  We expect that due to the release of these files, more claims alleging sexual molestation will be filed against the Boy Scouts.

Illinois Supreme Court Voids Judgment Against Railroad

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $3.9 million personal injury judgment against several railroad companies last week, holding that they cannot be held liable for injuries that the plaintiff sustained after he attempted to jump onto a moving train.  In the opinion, the high court reasoned that a moving train represents an "obvious danger" that children understand that could harm them.  The supreme court overturned the appellate court's decision to affirm the jury verdict in the case.  The case arose when, in 2003, 12 year old Dominic Choate tried to impress his friends by jumping onto a moving train.  When he fell, a train wheel severed part of his foot.  Later, a surgeon was required to amputate his leg below the knee.  A Cook County jury awarded him $6.9 million in damages, but reduced the award 40% due to the boy's comparative negligence.  The court noted that Choate ignored fences and warning signs near the tracks.  This will likely mean the end of that litigation.

Files Released in Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Case

While churches across the United States have been rocked with sexual molestation scandals, it appears that the Boy Scouts of America may be the next organization to battle many claims of sexual abuse.  Recently, a jury in Oregon awarded a victim $20 million due to sexual molestation from a scout master.  During the course of that litigation, the Oregon Supreme Court required that the Boy Scouts of America release files used as evidence in the case.  The Los Angeles Times reviewed more than 1,200 files between 1970 through 1991 - they found more than 125 claims where victims were abused after the Boy Scouts were alerted with allegations of sexual molestation by a scoutmaster.  The review indicated that the sexual offenders falsified data allowing them to join troops or jumped from troop to troop.  One scoutmaster was expelled in 1970 for sexually molesting a boy.  He was convicted of the crime, but was later able to join two other troops in Illinois.  We anticipate that there will be many lawsuits in Illinois and other states against the Boy Scouts of America for sexual abuse.

Injured Worker Settles Case for $3.3 Million

A worker who lost his hand settled his workplace injury lawsuit for $3.3 million.  Trial had just commenced in Winnebago County when the settlement occurred.  The injured party, James Susan, was taking a measurement near a conveyor chain when his glove got caught. Because of this, he lost his hand.  Susan filed suit against the general contractor and others.  The general contractor contended that Susan violated his employer's safety policies.

Skokie Considers Stricter Animal Law

The Village of Skokie is considering enacting a stricter municipal law regarding vicious animals after a loose pit bull attacked three other dogs, killing them.  The dogs were attacked in Morton Grove and Skokie.  A representative from the Village of Skokie said that if the proposal passes, fines against offending homeowners would jump from $200 to $500.  The representative stated that the ordinance is not targeted against pit bulls.  Regardless of the outcome of the new municipal ordinance, under Illinois state law, a dog owner can be held strictly liable if their animal attacks a person.  This is a much easier standard for an injured party compared to ordinary negligence law.

Dog Bites Proving Costly for Insurance Companies

Insurance companies costs associated with dog bites has hit a record high.  Payouts on claims for dog bite injuries jumped 12% over last year.  In 2011, dog bite injuries cost the insurance companies $478.9 million.  In 2010, the cost was $412.6 million.  State Farm Insurance Companies alone paid out $109 million on about 3,800 dog bite claims nationwide last year.  California had the most claims of any state.  Illinois had the second most amount of claims and claims paid out.  Children ages 5 to 9 and senior citizens pose the highest risk groups. An analysis of homeowners' insurance data showed that the average payout of a claim either by way of settlement or trial resulted in a payout of $29,396 in 2011, compared to $26,166 for the prior year.  Dog bite attacks account for one third of all liability payouts under homeowners' policies.  Under Illinois law, homeowners can be held strictly liable if their dog bites someone, as long as the victim did not provoke the animal.  This is a much stronger legal theory for plaintiffs compared to ordinary negligence claims.  Anecdotally, our experience has been that pit bulls are the one breed more than others that inflict this kind of damage.

Illinois Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case of Blogging Juror

As the world continues to move into the blagoshpere, attorneys continue to face unique issues.  One involved the case of the blogging juror.  In 2009, a Cook County jury returned a $4.75 million verdict in a wrongful death involving a Metra train which struck and killed Scott Eskew.  His widow sued the common carrier and BNSF Railway Co. alleging negligence.  Post-trial, the Defendants contended that a juror committed misconduct by blogging about the case during the trial.  The Defendants asked the trial judge to conduct an investigation, but the court declined the request.  The Defendants then appealed, but in October, 2011, the reviewing court upheld the verdict.  The appellate court held that nothing in the juror's blog demonstrated that the jury was influenced by outside influences.  The Defendants then filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court, but the high court refused to take the case.  Jurors are now instructed not to write about their jury service on the Internet as long as they are involved in the case.