Cook County jury returns $33.5 million verdict against the Village of Dolton in police chase case, one of the biggest police misconduct verdicts in Illinois history
By Mike Nolan
A Chicago law firm said it has secured a $33.5 million verdict on behalf of a man who died following a 2016 police chase in Dolton and a second man who was left severely injured.
At a news conference Thursday, attorneys with the firm Loevy & Loevy said the chase stemmed from a traffic violation after the car John Kyles and Duane Dunlap were in skidded through a stop sign.
Kyles died while Dunlap was left with “severe, catastrophic and permanent injuries,” according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed in November 2019.
The law firm said the jury award was reached Wednesday evening, and attorneys said they believe it is one of the largest police misconduct jury awards in state history.
According to the complaint, the chase occurred Oct. 9, 2016, and began at the intersection of Greenwood Road and Sibley Boulevard in Dolton and continued for about a mile, ending near Zion Covenant Church, in the 14200 block of Greenwood.
Attorneys said the chase put others in danger and that the “necessity of immediate apprehension did not Kyles outweigh the level of inherent danger” the chase created.
The chase was unjustified, attorney Jon Loevy said at the news conference.
“Police are supposed to ask themselves ‘Is it worth it?’ ” he said.
Aja Seats, the administrator of her brother John Kyles’ estate, said the verdict helps her and her family.
“I miss John so much,” Seats said. “No amount of money can bring him back.”
Loevy said the break-down of the award provides $10 million for Kyles’ family and $23 million for Dunlap.
Locke Bowman, another attorney with Loevy & Loevy, said the car had failed to stop at a stop sign and that the chase exceeded speeds of 80 mph.
He said the vehicle being pursued was forced into a dead-end alley, and the driver lost control.
Bowman said the jury verdict “signaled loud and clear that what happened was wrong.”
The original complaint against the village of Dolton and officers involved in the chase had sought unspecified damages.
Loevy said Dunlap was thrown from the vehicle and suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for a time following the crash.
He said the man, now 30, will require residential care for the rest of his life.
There were five people in the car that was being pursued by two Dolton police vehicles, Bowman told the Daily Southtown following the news conference.
He said the car crashed into a large garbage container, then struck a guardrail before hitting a parked vehicle, and that Kyles, 22, and Dunlap bore the brunt of the impact.
This article was initially published in the Chicago Tribune.