By: Eugene Hollander
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Cook County Jury Returns $10 Million Verdict for Murdered Woman’s Family
In late March, a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County returned a $10 million verdict in favor of the family of Melissa Dorner. Roberto Ramirez murdered Dorner on January 23, 2005 in her apartment on North Winthrop in Chicago. Ramirez lived there also. Ramirez was charged with Dorner’s murder, but he fled to Mexico. He was later extradited to the United States. In 2007, Dorner’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the apartment building’s management company and its owner, claiming that they were negligent in failing to screen tenants. The jury found Ramirez 90% at fault and the management company 10% at fault. Ramirez is likely judgment proof, meaning that Dorner’s family will only be able to recover $1 million. The evidence at trial showed that another female tenant complained about Ramirez two months before the murder – Ramirez chased her up the stairs. The management company intends to file post-trial motions with the court seeking to set aside the verdict. Those motions, however, are rarely granted. Negligence cases involving third party criminal attacks are usually difficult to win.