Illinois Appellate Court Affirms $3.5 Million Wrongful Death Verdict for Failure to Communicate Violence Where Student was Shot and Killed

Tyrone Lawson, 17, was the son of the plaintiff, Pamela Wright-Young, when he  was fatally shot outside a high school basketball game.  As the administrator of her son’s estate, his mother brought this wrongful death and survival action lawsuit against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board) and the Chief of Police and Student Services for Chicago State University. The university’s Jones Convocation Center was the venue in which the basketball game was held.

Throughout the pendency of this case, the trial court rejected various statutory immunities asserted by the Board. The case was tried and a jury concluded that the Board was liable, but the Chief of Police of Chicago State University was not. The jury signed a general verdict in favor of Wright-Young for damages in the amount of $3.5 million. The Board appealed.

The Illinois Appellate Court concluded that the trial court erroneously rejected the Board’s claim of absolute immunity with respect to most of the theories of liability presented at trial, as those theories all related to the Board’s choosing not to provide adequate police protection services.

Absolute immunity did not apply to Wright-Young’s theory that the Board failed to communicate prior acts of violence at Board-sponsored sporting events to Chicago State University, which was directly responsible for the parking lot where Tyrone was killed. Because that remaining claim (failure to communicate prior acts of violence) is not defeated by any of the Board’s other immunity arguments the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the jury’s general verdict for $3.5 million.

Wright-Young v. Chicago State University, 2019 IL App (1st) 181073, Sept. 27, 2019.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling wrongful death lawsuits, Illinois jury trials, nursing home abuse cases, premises liability cases and product liability lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Rosemont, Long Grove, Mundelein, Glenview, Northfield, Wheeling, Worth, Blue Island, South Holland, Maywood, Melrose Park, Harwood Heights, Chicago (Back of the Yards, Little Italy, Greek Town, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Rogers Park, North Lawndale, Garfield Park, Washington Park, Jefferson Park, Albany Park, Pilsen), Palos Heights, Barrington, Alsip and Midlothian, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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