Chicago Settles Case for $22.5 Million After Releasing Bipolar Young Woman Into High Crime Area Where She Is Kidnapped And Raped

imagesWe have another large settlement involving the Chicago Police Department this year. The Chicago police will pay $22.5 million to compensate a mentally-ill California woman who was released by police into a high-crime area where she was kidnapped and raped before she fell from the seventh floor of a public housing apartment building. Christina Eilman, 27, survived and will be given the largest settlement in Chicago’s history (the prior record was $18 million).


Eilman was arrested and held overnight after she was found behaving strangely at Midway Airport. She was having a bipolar meltdown. She continued to display obvious signs of mental illness when the police simply released the former UCLA student into the high-crime neighborhood around the Wentworth District police station. She was wearing short shorts and a cut-off top and was near the exceptionally dangerous Robert Taylor homes project.

The fall from the building left her with a devastating brain injury and several broken bones, including a shattered pelvis. She now requires around-the-clock care .

While the city argued in court that she was viewed as competent, several officers to their credit testified under oath and said that the woman was clearly showing signs of mental illness. Other officers admitted that a supervisor ordered that she be taken to a hospital for evaluation but no car was available.

We have previously criticized Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez for extreme legal views in favor of the police. It appears that the Chicago Law Department shares the same tendency and fought hard to dismiss the case and leave the woman with nothing in damages.

The Chicago lawyers may have believed that they scored with a panel headed by conservative Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook on the Seventh Circuit. If so, they were wrong. In Paine v. Cason, 678 F.3d 500 (7th Cir. 2012), Easterbrook slammed the Chicago police and the arguments of the Cook County lawyers. The court recounted how the police ignored calls from her parents about her condition:

Eilman, 21 and in college, had been in an auto accident the previous year. She recovered physically but developed bipolar disorder, spending 37 days in a mental hospital. (Whether the accident caused the bipolar disorder or just aggravated an existing condition is not important.) Eilman failed to take prescribed psychotropic medicines and had relapses. Experts in this litigation concluded that, during May 5 to 8, 2006, Eilman was in an acute manic phase. She did not tell the police about her mental-health background, however, and was uncooperative after her arrest—sometimes refusing to answer questions, sometimes screaming, sometimes providing false or unresponsive answers. Phone calls from her mother and her stepfather told officers in Chicago that Eilman [**3] had bipolar disorder, but the officers did not believe the stepfather (they thought that the call was fake), and the officer who took the calls from Kathleen Paine, Eilman’s mother, failed to tell anyone else or record the information in Eilman’s file. While Eilman was in custody, some officers thought that she was just being difficult, some thought that she was on drugs (expert reports relate that methamphetamine could cause similar symptoms), some thought that she was no worse than the r

Easterbrook noted that anyone could see that she was in danger and speaks frankly about the dangers of a white young woman in a black neighborhood with a high crime rate (I can say that growing up in Chicago, one of my sisters was stopped while driving in one of these areas by an African-American police officer and told that the area was not safe for a white person to even drive through due to their race):

It was evening; the police station was close to the Robert Taylor Homes, a public-housing project with an exceptionally high crime rate; the police had not returned her cell phone, so she could not easily summon aid; she was lost, unable to appreciate her danger, and dressed in a manner that attracted attention (a cutoff top with a bare midriff, short shorts, and boots); and she is white and well off while the local population is predominantly black and not affluent, causing her to stand out as a person unfamiliar with the environment and thus a potential target for crime. Officer Pauline Heard saw Eilman standing, with a puzzled look, in the station-house’s parking lot. Heard pointed toward 51st Street.

The court said that the police showed no care or concern for this helpless individual:

They did not warn Eilman about the neighborhood’s dangers. They did not walk her to the nearest CTA station (parallel to driving Stevens to a phone), from which she could have reached a safer neighborhood in minutes. They did not drive her back to the airport, where she [**19] could have used her ticket to return to California. They did not put Eilman in contact with her mother, who had called the stationhouse repeatedly. Her mother could have called a car service to pick Eilman up and drive her to a hotel (or the airport), and told her to remain at the stationhouse until the car arrived. They did not even return Eilman’s cell phone, which she could have used to summon aid. They might as well have released her into the lions’ den at the Brookfield Zoo. See Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616, 618 (7th Cir. 1982), which anticipated DeShaney but added that throwing someone into a snake pit would violate the due process clause.

Also named as defendants in the action were Chicago Police Sergeant David Berglind, Police Officers Teresa Williams and Pamela Smith and Detention Aides Sharon Stokes, Cynthia Hudson and Catonia Quinn as defendants in the lawsuit filed by Eilman’s parents.

images-1The police charged a man in the rape. It appears that a crowd surrounded Eilman and she was led to a vacant apartment on the seventh floor. Several men demanded Eilman perform oral sex, but she refused and said that she would jump out the window if anyone laid a hand on her. Eventually, reputed gang member and convicted felon Marvin Powell entered the apartment and reportedly demanded that everyone else leave the apartment. He was convicted of abducting and sexually assaulting Eilman.

What is striking is how there is no indication of any disciplinary action taken against any officer for this calamity. Likewise, there is no criticism of the attorneys who fought to dismiss this case for six years. Six years of litigation that sought to deny all damages to this woman and the parents who will now have to care for her for life. That was done in the name of all Chicagoans. As a native Chicagoan, I feel nothing but shame and anger at the litigation efforts of the city.

In the meantime, a woman will require a lifetime of care and the citizens of Chicago will pay $22.5 million.

Source: Chicago Sun Times

42 thoughts on “Chicago Settles Case for $22.5 Million After Releasing Bipolar Young Woman Into High Crime Area Where She Is Kidnapped And Raped

  1. We have some ‘sick’ people in this world. I don’t know who is more ‘sick’ the loser convicted of the rape and beating or the police officers\cook county attorney\city of chicago leaders trying to protect their image or lack thereof.

  2. Sociopaths, no empathy for others and apparently no fear of the consequences of their actions and I am talking about the police. 22 million will never give this wome back her life or her parents their daughter. It is not enough to teach Chicago a lesson. The police officers involved should lose their jobs and pensions and be prosecuted if possible and spend some time in jail.

  3. How would the cops know if someone was bi-polar? Doctors cant agree on what that hyphenated word means. Bears cant agree on it. Usually it is a term employed by a doctor to describe a psychotic diagnosis but is used to take the sting off of it. In a rich suburb you get the bi polar appellation and in the inner city you get the psychotic or schizophrenia word.

    If she is suing the cops for throwing her to the wolves when they knew that she was psycotic and defenseless then she should call it that. If does not help her case for her lawyers to be labeling her “bi polar”. Bi polar is generally used to denote someone who might be depressed at one period and then later manic or very mentally active at another. In between the two they are normal. So, was she very depressed when they put her in harms way, or very active or normal. If one is bi polar then one could be in any of the three status descriptions. Maybe they let her loose into harms way when she was normal.

  4. There is still a great deal of stigma surrounding mental illness. As well as ignorance. Medications are not a panacea as I have gone into episodes while in compliance with my medications. Some police officers have referred to me as an NHI, No humans involved I’m well educated and come from a good family. I’ve been punched in the face for no good reason by cops. I could go on and on. I hate this disorder. I’m stable now but I probably will Go eat fact to it again in the future. This disorder derailed my life. Not to mention the fact that while I’m in an episode the people around me Have to endure some pretty crazy behavior coming from me– and that’s putting it euphemistically. Unfortunately, what happened to this poor young woman is not uncommon, at least with regard to the rape & the utter lack of concern of the police.

  5. Many Chicago cops look upon contacts w/ citizens to hit them up for cash. There obviously was no way to make some bribe money on this so, “f@ck her”. Releasing this woman near the Robert Taylor Homes[Those are the high rises across the Dan Ryan from Comiskey for those who just have driven through Chicago] is not just heartless, it’s souless. This is a city ruled by one party for generations. They take care of the north shore, Magnificent Mile, and to hell w/ everyone else.

  6. Bipolar or not, the police should not release anyone into a dangerous neighborhood.

    Hurt their wallet, and hopefully change will come about.

  7. A lawyer’s duty is to zealously represent his or her client. The professor should know and support that instead of condemning the Chicago attorneys who defended the case.

  8. Waldo:

    “A lawyer’s duty is to zealously represent his or her client. ”

    ******************

    There’s nothing in that rule requiring you to posture frivolous defenses, delay the process, or try to make people believe the impossible. You also have no duty to take ridiculous settlement positions in the hopes of starving out the opposition. You do have a duty to represent your client within the bounds of the undisputed facts and to avoid disputes where there are none. Defense guys forget that sometimes since reality is sometimes an inconvenient truth when your client has really screwed things up.

  9. This case made big news here in the Chicago area when it first happened and again with the news of the settlement. I am glad that the city has had to dig down very deep into its pockets to pay this settlement. Maybe the loss of the money will convince the City of Chicago and CPD that something has to change. Then again, maybe not.

  10. rafflaw, Come on!! Nothing changes in a city ruled exclusively by one party. Only the characters change. Often because many end up in Federal Prison. At least be intellectually honest.

  11. nick, The republicans live in the exurbs of Chicago. Maybe you could start a campaign to get them back into the city so there could be two parties but it might be difficult as the republican social policies don’t sell too well in cities. Maybe Joe Walsh could run for mayor. ;)

  12. “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become corrupt as in Europe, and go to eating one another as they do there.”

  13. The police have a great deal of contact with the mentally ill–they may not be able to do differential diagnosis, but they would know someone, generally speaking was psychotic and would be liable. Unfortunately, they usually are poorly trained and relieved to not have to spend time supervising teh mentally ill. Back in the day when i was a psychiatric tech, we had a lot of contact with police (bringing in people under evaluation for commitment, bringing in walk-aways who were commited or under guardianship) and the vast majority were more afraid and uncomfortable with their charges than we were, despite many of these people being quite psychotic. And, as far as I can tell, nothing much has changed.

    Police, whether they’re in Chicago or Podunk notoriously cover for each other and don’t discipline unless there’s a grudge, and prosecutors willingly go along with this. Given that Prosecutors are usually grandstanders at election time, this is the kind of case that should stand in the way of the political career that many of them (including staff attorneys) usually want.

  14. “There’s nothing in that rule requiring you to posture frivolous defenses, delay the process, or try to make people believe the impossible. You also have no duty to take ridiculous settlement positions in the hopes of starving out the opposition. You do have a duty to represent your client within the bounds of the undisputed facts and to avoid disputes where there are none. ”

    I completely agree that a lawyer’s duty to zealously represent his or her client is bounded by the ethical rules. If you’re going to insinuate that the lawyer’s violated the rules of ethics, however, I would think it’s incumbent upon you to be specific and state what particular rule was violated and the bases for that assertion. You’ve suggested some actions that would be ethical violations, such as asserting frivolous defenses, but you haven’t backed those up with any facts. Do you believe Chicago’s lawyers in fact asserted frivolous defenses? If so, what were they and why do you believe they were frivolous?

  15. Waldo:

    I have no idea if any ethical rules were violated since I have no idea as to the facts in the case. I do know that the Bar Association in Illinois isn’t the most zealous crowd in running down ethical issues from personal experience. My point was simply that even a cursory review of the manifest facts would have suggested to most decent people that a settlement was in order. It doesn’t take six years to evaluate a brain case. And it doesn’t take a great legal mind to figure out how a jury will handle these facts if you’re silly enough to let it go that far.

    What is required is some human decency in litigation. That is to look over your legal pad once in a while even as you are judiciously scribbling notes to see the real person who has trusted the system you were sworn to serve. The public has a right to expect some rough form of justice free from a for-profit pipeline designed specifically to delay that process even as its practitioners pile up fees. An attorney can be a facilitator in that system or the attorney can be a stop. The choice is yours but as you decide you should remember that your client’s interests should come in second only to your regard for yourself as a person.

    You have no obligation to sell your soul for fees. We know the name for people who do that.

    At its essence, I believe in zealous representation and human decency. They are not mutually exclusive.

  16. mespo, You’re the type of barrister I would hire. However, you must know you’re on the endangered species list?

  17. nick:

    “mespo, You’re the type of barrister I would hire. However, you must know you’re on the endangered species list?”

    ***********************************

    That’s ok They only make those lists because they want to keep those beasts around a little longer.

  18. Yasminah,

    Just proves my point even more: we have some sick people in this world. Great article. I will make sure if any of my children need help to be on the ‘next train to Georgia’. Sad story.

  19. Money does not solve anything. It is an illuton to think it does. Sex happens. God in the end will judge the inner most thoughts of the heart. It is a terrible thing to not be like Jesus is falling 8nto the hands of the living God.

  20. Money does not solve anything. It is an illuton to think it does. Sex happens. God in the end will judge the inner most thoughts of the heart. It is a terrible thing to not be like Jesus is falling into the hands of the living God.

  21. “At its essence, I believe in zealous representation and human decency. They are not mutually exclusive.”

    I agree. I just don’t agree that there’s any evidence that Chicago’s lawyers violated either.

    “My point was simply that even a cursory review of the manifest facts would have suggested to most decent people that a settlement was in order. It doesn’t take six years to evaluate a brain case. And it doesn’t take a great legal mind to figure out how a jury will handle these facts if you’re silly enough to let it go that far”

    I don’t know the history of this case, but the post says it was Easterbrook wrote the opinion. I infer from this that defendant won in the district court on whatever legal defense they were presenting. Thus, difficult for me to say the argument they were presenting, even if they did eventually lose on it, was anywhere close to frivolous and they were doing exactly what they were supposed to do in pursuing it. Also, even if you think it’s a good idea to settle a case, it takes two to settle. Without knowing the settlement negotiations, it’s impossible to say that any one party was being unreasonable, let alone violating any ethical or moral duty.

  22. From the article: “…several officers to their credit testified under oath and said that the woman was clearly showing signs of mental illness. Other officers admitted that a supervisor ordered that she be taken to a hospital for evaluation but no car was available.”

    It’s a sad day when we have to give an officer of the law credit for telling the truth under oath.

  23. Yasminah 1, January 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    nice for the white girl — not so for the black girl

    ——

    Yasminah,

    My heart breaks for her family and friends, especially her mother. (Thank you for posting the article/link.)

    Our “justice” system…

    http://www.salon.com/2011/10/26/the_two_tiered_justice_system/ (The two-tiered justice system; Continuing the discussion of elite immunity and America’s sprawling, merciless penal state for ordinary American VIDEO
    by Glenn Greenwald

    http://www.salon.com/2012/07/04/two_tiered_justice/ ( Wednesday, Jul 4, 2012 Two-tiered justice; Events surrounding the release of the paperback version of With Liberty and Justice for Some by Glenn Greenwald)

  24. “Eilman was arrested and held overnight after she was found behaving strangely at Midway Airport.”

    “Other officers admitted that a supervisor ordered that she be taken to a hospital for evaluation but no car was available.”

    Those two sentences wrap up the case for me and I’m glad the court saw it. If you arrest someone for “strange behavior”, then they should be take to a Psych Ward since the behavior needed to be bizarre enough to cause an arrest in the first place. Once having arrested her ad recognizing her “strange behavior” was continuing gave the police a duty to see she was psychiatrically evaluated.

  25. Mike S:

    A police station with no access to a car? Ridiculous on its face? It’s like a hospital with no sheets.

    I bet if Michael Jordan had come into Chicago unexpectedly they could have found a car to escort him from Midway.

  26. Jail is the last place a person with a mental crisis should go. Acting strangely is not being so absolutely violent that if the only secure facility available is jail then there is no substitute. (such as in a rural area)

    Some states have Protective Custody laws, that is where a person having an issue such as this woman had can be taken instead of jail to a treatment facility or hospital in lieu of an arrest for minor criminal violations.

    On another note, what really bothers me about much of what I have read on this blog and other media is that the price to make a change to a corrupt or broken system is often a person’s life gets destroyed in the process. Even if this woman recovered 8 figures, she suffered terribly and will ever after, whilst beauracrats and the actors that caused this entire tradgedy will just go about their lives like nothing happened, indemnified by other people’s dollars. And whatever change is often rather cursory and transient because as we all have seen, it is often only a matter of time before they forget and start horking up people’s lives again.

    It is usually the average person, who takes on the gov’t for the gov’t’s own failures that usually suffers the most, even if they do prevail in the courtroom.

  27. They could close Midway. It is between the two polarities and causes problems. All of the bi polars end up there.

  28. nick,
    I am late to respond, but my posting at 10:38am was intellectually honest and I suspect that maybe you misunderstood my criticisms of Chicago.

  29. This is just SOP for Chicago. This mayor FIGHTS to keep people from being able to CC to defend themselves from the thugs, then on top of that people have a percentage of the police that they have to fear.

    The video of a woman bartender that got beat by a cop that went viral, 2 years probation for the cop!!!

    Two men that sued, one for false arrest, and the other for having a screwdriver shoved up his butt by the cops!! Chicago paid out another $6 million for them.

    A nurse that tried to help cops in a car accident, held for 11months in jail!!!
    She sued for millions…and won.

    Do I need to go on…because I could…

    MY QUESTION is WHEN are Chicago voters going to put the Mayor OUT OF OFFICE!??

  30. Chicago is one of my favorite American cities. Yeah, it has problems, but it also addresses problems. I did not like the first Daley but the last one was good and I think Emanuel is doing a good job. Da Bears.

  31. rafflaw, You’re absoluitely correct. We must allow the upstanding and outstanding Chicago Police protect us. Yeah, we have the strictest gun laws in the nation. Yeah, we are the last state to not allow concealed carry. Yeah, we have the highest murder rate in the country w/ those strictest gun laws. But, “I’m Rahm Emanuel and I know what’s best for you..now bend over, grab your ankles, and squeel like a piggy. Oh..and before I forget, give me all your money.”

  32. Dear Professor Turley,

    News this evening that the trigger happy Adams County Sheriff’s deputy has been pulled from active duty and there’s an investigation into Ziggy’s death. http://www.9news.com/news/article/310968/339/Deputy-accused-in-dog-shooting- taken-off-patrol-

    Last year Officer Europe shot and killed a man during a traffic stop. Officer Europe was cleared after he claimed the driver was going for a gun, but the passenger in the car disputes that. It appears Officer Europe is a trigger happy cop who shoots first, then lies to cover up his actions. It would appear that Officer Europe is a liability to Adams County Sheriff’s department and a lethal danger to citizens and their pets.

    I’m tired of abuse of power and LEOs lying to cover up crimes.

    Thank you for your blog – I post as Streetwise2011.

    Yours sincerely,

    Margaret

    Park County, CO,

    970-333-2280

    purnellml@gmail.com

    _____

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