William Pistorius, Partner
One of the most difficult challenges facing municipal leaders today is guarding against lawsuits and large jury verdicts which could significantly impact the taxpayer. While every effort is made to budget for those expenses, the risk in this litigious environment remains great. The first step toward protecting taxpayers is making sure that you have the right defense counsel in place - meaning one with experience in litigation and knowledge of the needs and concerns of municipal leaders.
Clausen Miller has defended municipalities against a wide range of claims, including; civil rights violations alleged against police officers and city administrators, an array of employment-related claims and a variety of contract and tort claims ranging from paramedic negligence to real estate development and annexation issues.
We have attorneys who are members and board presidents of local municipalities and in that capacity understand the needs of a municipality from both sides, as attorney and as board member. Clausen Miller attorneys have insight into how governments work.
The Grand National Bank case: Clausen Miller successfully resolved a claim against a village and its trustees by a developer alleging a variety of state contract and tort claims as well as federal due process claims. The case arose out of the village's purported refusal to issue hundreds of building permits in accordance with local ordinance and an annexation agreement. The allegations concerned conduct spanning a decade and involving two administrations.
The Amadio case: The plaintiff, a gentlemen's club owner, filed a complaint against the city asserting violations of procedural and substantive due process where the city refused to permit the transfer of a liquor license to a new location zoned for adult entertainment. The firm obtained dismissal by demonstrating that the plaintiff lacked a sufficient property interest in the proposed transfer to sustain a constitutional cause of action.
The Uwat case: Clausen Miller obtained summary judgment in favor of the village in a claim brought by a plaintiff who was severely injured as a result of a fall on an icy sidewalk. Effective resort to the Tort Immunity Act precluded the plaintiff's substantial damage claim.
Law enforcement officials find themselves a target of an increasing number of lawsuits. Although excessive force seems to garner the most media attention, a variety of other civil rights violations involving unlawful arrests, high-speed chases and employment issues within a police department are among the most popular. In all these areas, Clausen Miller has undertaken the defense of both the high-profile and more routine cases with the same aggressive approach.
All of our attorneys are experienced trial litigators. Many of the attorneys in our Municipal Defense Practice Group spent their formative years in the Cook County (Illinois) State's Attorney's Office. This experience provides this group with special insight as to how municipalities work as well as the vital and difficult role our police officers play in undertaking their daily duties.
The Smith case: Two police officers stopped to aid passengers in a vehicle on the side of an expressway, at which time a confrontation erupted with an African-American world champion wrestler. The struggle escalated and ended only when the wrestler was shot to death after he attempted to grab one of the officers' weapons. The highly publicized, emotionally charged case was resolved prior to trial.
The Doe case: A female theft arrestee alleged sexual assault by an officer during the arrest procedure. She made a $250,000 demand. A de minimis settlement shortly after the exploration of plaintiff's drug use caused her to take the Fifth Amendment twenty-four times at deposition.
The Yattoni case: A young suburbanite was arrested for armed robbery. Detectives were accused of possessing exculpatory information, neglecting to act on it, and denying the evidence existed at deposition. A summary judgment in defendant's favor was based on qualified immunity (affirmed by the Seventh Circuit).
Clausen Miller has extensive experience representing park districts in many litigation settings. More specifically, we have represented the park districts such as Glenview, Wheaton, Wilmette, Streamwood, Lemont, Park Ridge, Skokie and Oak Lawn on premises issues involving willful and wanton misconduct, open and obvious dangers, governmental immunity and discretionary acts. We have also handled a multitude of employment and labor matters for Park Districts. Like municipalities, we have Clausen Miller attorneys who have served on Park Boards and advisory panels to the Illinois General Assembly on legislation affecting Park Districts in Illinois.
The Hertz case: A female sued a park district for an injury allegedly suffered at a local ice arena. After discovery and significant interrogation of the witnesses it was learned that the injury happened at a different location. the case was not only dismissed upon motion with prejudice, but Clausen Miller was able to secure a second mortgage on the Plaintiff's home to enforce back-payment of 100% of the legal fees.
The Tomczyk Case: A minor child was severely injured at a playground and the Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant Park District was negligent for placing it in the vicinity of a swimming pool and having an unsafe surface. Clausen filed a three fold motion to dismiss asserting the absence of any duty to protect against open and obvious dangers, discretionary Immunity under the Tort Immunity Act, and the absence of proper allegations of willful and wanton misconduct. The case was dismissed with prejudice in favor of the Defendant Park District.