On January 20, 2011, firm associate Martha-Victoria Díaz and partner Hugh C. O’Donnell won a Not Liable jury verdict on behalf of the City of Chicago and a police officer in a Section 1983 civil rights case in federal court. The trial took place before the Northern District of Illinois Chief Judge William Holderman.
The Plaintiff Beverly Thurman alleged that the Defendants violated her right to be free from an un-Constitutional seizure of her property. A mailman called the city’s non-emergency number to report a loose pit bull dog which he knew to be aggressive and intimidating. A Chicago police officer responded and observed the dog on a front lawn. He exited his vehicle in an attempt to check with the residents of the house to see if they were the owners and would restrain their dog. While walking toward the door, the dog charged bearing teeth and barking. The police officer used his service revolver to put the dog down. The Plaintiff alleged the shooting was unjustified and a violation of her Constitutional rights. The Plaintiff also alleged a count for conversion under Illinois state common law. The jury returned their verdict in favor of the Defendants in less than two hours.
The verdict represents the first trial the firm has undertaken for the City of Chicago Civil Rights Litigation Division under a new policy to take police Section 1983 cases to trial rather than routinely settling the cases. The case received notice in the country’s paper of record The New York Times. Click on the following link to read the New York Times article.