Wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the state Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) by the families of two deceased girls, accusing the agency of ignoring indications that the children had been placed in abusive households with other relatives.
One lawsuit was filed July 11 in Cook County Circuit Court by the mother and the maternal grandfather of Gizzell Ford, who was eight years old when she died in July 2013. Prosecutors said Ford had been tortured in a West Side home that was strewn with garbage. The other wrongful death suit was filed April 30 in federal court by the paternal grandfather of Gina Presley, who died at the age of three in her aunt’s Oak Forest home.
Investigations by the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ found an increasing number of children dying while being monitored or investigated by DCFS.
The lawsuit by James Fountas, Gina’s paternal grandfather, claims that her maternal grandfather contacted the Oak Forest Police Department and DCFS multiple times to warn them that Gina was being abused by the live-in boyfriend of her legal guardian. Despite the warnings, the lawsuit claims DCFS took no meaningful steps to protect Gina. Authorities concluded that Gina died of blunt force trauma due to child abuse.
In Gizzell’s case, the lawsuit over her death claims that DCFS had access to signs that the girl was being physically abused, but did not protect her.
The mother of a child who was struck and killed by a city bus on Memorial Day has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority.
The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by La’Tasha Upshaw. Her daughter was 19 months old when she died.
The lawsuit alleges that the driver was careless. The No. 6 Jackson Park Express bus hit the girl as she crossed South Shore Drive on May 26.
According to authorities, the girl had run into the street when the bus driver saw her. The driver attempted to swerve to avoid hitting the child but was not able to do so in time.
At a vigil held for the girl the day after the accident, Upshaw told reporters that she had left her daughter with neighbors while she retrieved the child’s bicycle.
Witnesses said that the girl was pinned under the bus. According to the medical examiner, she was pronounced dead at University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.
The lawsuit alleges that the driver failed to maintain proper speed and did not properly swerve to avoid hitting the child. The lawsuit seeks at least $50,000 in damages, including reimbursement for medical and funeral expenses.
A $10.9 million settlement was reached in a wrongful death lawsuit over the death of an Illinois state trooper. The trooper was struck and killed by a truck driver who allegedly fell asleep while driving.
Elizabeth Sauter, Trooper James Sauter’s widow, filed the lawsuit against the truck driver and the companies he was working for at the time of the March 2013 accident.
The driver was also criminally charged in Cook County for violating federal hours-of-service regulations. According to prosecutors, he dozed off on the Tri-State Tollway on March 28, striking the trooper after working a 12-hour shift.
Records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show that the driver and United Van Lines were fined $2,500 and $5,500, respectively, for violating a federal regulation prohibiting a driver from being on duty over 14 hours without taking 10 hours of rest time.
Judge Kathy M. Flanagan of Cook County Circuit Court approved the settlement after the parties reached an agreement in pre-trial mediation.
According to allegations in the lawsuit, Sauter’s squad car was parked on the left shoulder of Interstate 294. The truck driver was driving a semitrailer in the left lane when he fell asleep. The semi veered off the road, crashing into Sauter’s vehicle, the lawsuit alleged. According to court records, the truck driver worked from 6:31 a.m. to 6:32 p.m. that day loading the truck, then drove from 7:14 p.m. to 7:34 p.m., and again from 8:49 p.m. until the time of the crash at 11:03 p.m.
The wife of a Villa Park man who died after being attacked by a swan has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man’s employer and against the condo complex where he was working when he died.
According to the lawsuit, Anthony Hensley had responsibility over two swans in the Bay Colony condo complex in Des Plaines. The condo complex used the swans to keep geese away. Hensley was employed by Knox Swan and Dog, the company that provided the swans to the complex.
Two years ago, one of the swans knocked Hensley out of his kayak. Hensley, wearing boots and heavy clothing, attempted to swim for shore but drowned. Witnesses said the swan continued to swim toward the man after he fell out of the kayak. He was pronounced dead at Lutheran General Hospital. Hensley was 37 and the father of two children.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the death was found to be an accidental drowning after an autopsy. Officials said that Hensley may have gotten too close to the swans’ nesting area, sparking the attack. According to Hensley’s father, he was a strong swimmer.
In the lawsuit, Hensley’s wife claims that the condo complex and his employer should have known that swans are territorial and are prone to attack humans.
The mother of a deceased 14-month-old girl has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The child died after she was hidden from authorities during a monitoring visit at a day care center.
In August 2013, Family & Friends Home Day Care, located in West Garfield Park, was caring for the child when representatives of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) arrived for a monitoring visit. According to the lawsuit, there were more children present than regulations permitted, so the child was placed in a bedroom outside the facility to hide her from the DCFS authorities. While she was in the bedroom, she sustained injuries that led to her death.
According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, an autopsy conducted at the time of Carter’s death was inconclusive, and no determination has yet been made about the cause and manner of the child’s death.
The lawsuit claims that the facility and its owner were negligent in failing to place a care provider in the room where Carter was hidden, in failing to put her on proper sleeping equipment and in failing to monitor her breathing while she slept.
According to a DCFS spokeswoman, the owner of the facility was “indicated for neglect” and surrendered her day care license shortly after the incident.
A Cook County Circuit Court judge has dismissed two discovery petitions filed in her court over the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The Rule 224 discovery petitions were filed prior to expected wrongful death lawsuits against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines. Boeing, based in Chicago, built the missing 777. A Chicago law firm filed the petition on behalf of Januari Siregar, an attorney who claims to be the uncle of Firman Siregar, one of the passengers on the plane, and the legal representative for the family.
However, Judge Kathy Flanagan stated that the filing was improper and warned that the court would impose sanctions on the firm if it made a similar filing again. A Supreme Court Rule 224 petition, the judge said, is to be used only to ascertain the identity of a defendant. When at least one potential defendant can be identified, then a lawsuit should be filed (rather than a pre-lawsuit petition).
Even if it had been properly filed, the lawsuit would have faced questions about the plaintiff’s status. According to the Wall Street Journal, a confirmed spokesman for the family of Firman Siregar said that Januari Siregar is a “distant relative” of the man listed as a passenger on the missing plane and is not authorized to represent the family. The Chicago Tribune reported that a spokesman for Firman Siregar’s father stated that the Chicago law firm did not have authorization from him to take legal action.
Also according to the Tribune, the law firm first issued a press release stating that Januari Siregar was Firman Siregar’s father, then issued a corrected press release stating that he was his uncle.
Cook County prosecutors have charged a Park Forest police officer with felony reckless conduct after the death of a 95-year-old resident of a senior citizen home.
The charges were filed against Officer Craig Taylor. Taylor shot five beanbag rounds at the elderly man with a shotgun after the man allegedly wielded a knife. The senior citizen, John Wrana, began bleeding internally and died the next day.
Police were called to the senior citizen home in Park Forest after Wrana allegedly threatened other residents and struck a medical technician with his cane. The technician was attempting to transport Wrana to a hospital where a psychiatric evaluation was to be conducted. When police were called, Wrana allegedly threatened to stab officers with a knife.
Taylor’s attorney stated that the officer was acting on behalf of his superiors and was not making unilateral decisions about how to handle the standoff.
An attorney for Sharon Mangerson (Wrana’s stepdaughter) said that the family was glad that Taylor had been arrested and that he should have been charged with the more serious crime of involuntary manslaughter. The lawyer stated that the family would “likely” file a wrongful death lawsuit but would wait for the outcome of the criminal case.
In court, a prosecutor said that the officers made the decision to attempt a violent extrication within seven minutes of arriving at the senior citizen home, and that other viable options to resolve the situation were ignored.
The bankruptcy trustee for Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd said that a recent reorganization plan — filed by families of people who died when one of the company’s trains derailed and exploded — is “not a serious plan.”
Robert J. Keach, the trustee, said that the plan, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bangor, Maine on January 29, “will go nowhere” and is “facially non-confirmable,” according to Bloomberg News.
A group of wrongful-death claimants submitted the plan, which would allocate 75 percent of $25 million in insurance to the families of people who died in the July accident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Claimants seeking compensation for property damaged in the derailment and subsequent fire would receive the other 25 percent.
Keach said that the plan relies on the assumption that insurance proceeds, a Canadian asset, could be transferred to the United States. An attorney for the official victims’ committee said that proceeds from the Canadian insurance policy would not be turned over to a U.S. court without an agreement between both countries’ courts.
Keach also said the plan would be a bad deal for the majority of claimants. He said the plan was proposed by a “splinter group” not participating in the official victims’ committee, and that it was a tactical move related to their resistance to Keach’s plan to move the wrongful death lawsuits from Illinois to Maine.
After a whistleblower investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency ordered two railroad companies to pay back wages to five injured, suspended workers.
OSHA found that Union Pacific Railroad Co. and Grand Trunk Western Railway Co. violated federal law by disciplining and/or suspending the five employees after reports of workplace illnesses or injuries. The companies disciplined the workers and suspended them for between one and 60 days with no pay after they reported illnesses or injuries.
An OSHA spokesperson said that companies may not retaliate against workers for reporting a workplace injury, and that this type of retaliation was far too prevalent in the railroad industry.
The companies were ordered to pay the employees compensatory and punitive damages, back wages plus interest and attorney’s fees. In addition, the disciplinary information must be removed from the workers’ personnel files, and the companies must post information about whistleblowers’ rights in the workplace.
Grand Trunk Western was ordered to pay four workers, including three conductors and a carpenter, a total of $85,580. Union Pacific was ordered to pay one worker $11,289.68 along with interest and attorney’s fees.
OSHA is responsible for enforcement of the whistleblower provisions of 22 separate statutes that protect workers who report specific violations of the law in certain industries. Workers who believe they have been victims of retaliation may request an OSHA investigation.
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a Caseyville nursing home over the death of a resident who developed gangrene and had her leg amputated.
Stephanie Strickland filed the lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court as the special administrator of Carolyn Strickland’s estate. The defendant is Caseyville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Inc.
The lawsuit claims that while Carolyn Strickland was a resident of the nursing home, she received negligent care and developed osteomyelitis, ulcers and gangrene, which necessitated the amputation of her leg. The lawsuit also claims that she developed a post-surgical wound infection and sepsis, which contributed to her death.
The lawsuit claims that the nursing home was negligent in caring for Strickland. Stephanie Strickland, her daughter, is seeking over $50,000 in damages. She is currently represented by attorney Staci M. Yandle. However, Yandle currently has a pending nomination to serve as a federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois in Benton.
Nursing home neglect and abuse may be more prevalent than was previously thought. A recent study revealed that more than 30 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. have been cited for abuse. It is estimated that 2.1 million older Americans are the victims of abuse in nursing homes each year. Other evidence suggests that more than 90 percent of nursing homes fail to deliver needed care to residents.