There were two lawsuits filed in the last week that made headlines. Some of the commenters below the articles (yes I made the mistake of getting sucked in to reading that stuff) talked about how frivolous these cases are and this is why our society is falling apart and how the attorneys are a bunch of meany poopy heads (ok, I made that last part up).
For once I actually agree based on what I read that these cases have no merit.
The first case is tragic and involves suing the Glenview Fire and Police Departments as well as the Cook County Forest Preserve. A man was biking with his daughter and had a heart attack. 911 was called right away, but took 40 minutes to respond because they couldn’t find them on the path they were on. A passerby administered CPR, but it didn’t save him. The daughter is understandably furious that they didn’t arrive quickly as she could hear the sirens and gave explicit directions.
I don’t think it’s a case because I don’t see how she proves that had they shown up right away he would have survived. Certainly that would have increased his chances, but there’s no guarantee. If you can’t prove that then your chances of winning go down the tubes.
The second case is not as tragic although it does apparently involve racial profiling. An Evanston boy (13) who is also the son of a professor was handcuffed in his driveway when he was mistakenly believed to be a suspect in a robbery. What the police did was no doubt wrong, but it’s a mistake without great consequences. In other words, they didn’t throw him to the ground and break his arm, pepper spray him, draw a gun on him, etc.
I’m not saying there is no harm in racial profiling because there of course is. But when you go to measure the actual harm suffered by this boy, it does not appear that there is much there. It’s not as if this has put him in therapy or required other medical care. I think the family knows this because the report said they are asking for $1 plus legal fees. In other words, they want to use this as a teaching moment to try to change bad behavior. This, however, assumes that Evanston cops are making a habit of racially profiling people. I’m sure it happens, but it’s not the type of town you typically associate that with. There are bad apples everywhere, but as a former Evanston resident, I found the police to be respectful and interested in the community.
Interestingly enough, at least to me, the lawyer for the first case is a one man shop who according to his website handles many areas of law including divorce, bankruptcy, tax, employment, real estate and foreclosure. In other words it’s not the typical profile of most wrongful death law firms. The guess here is that the lawyer either doesn’t realize how hard these cases are or isn’t well versed on the law (just my opinion, I’ve never met the guy). But it wouldn’t surprise me if the family had reached out to other more experienced firms before they found this guy to take the case. And in the second lawsuit, the lawyer of record only became licensed to practice in Illinois earlier this year. To me that is telling because you typically wouldn’t hire an attorney that has only six months experience. Maybe he’s a family friend. Maybe he’s a civil rights genius. Or maybe the more experienced law firms around realize that the chances of making any money off this case are slim and it’s not worth their time.
We’ll see what happens only if these cases do end up doing something. Most of the cases that make headlines never go much farther than that. I could of course be wrong, but I really doubt it.
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