Jury Awards $7.5 Million in Wrongful Death Suit Against Town of Cicero for Halloween Crash

A Cook County jury awarded $7.5 million in a wrongful death suit brought by the family of a Mexican immigrant killed when police officers forced him to stand behind a police car next to heavy traffic.

On Friday, Halloween night, October 31, 2003, Eduardo Godinez was stopped by Cicero police when he was involved in an altercation at the corner of 56th Court and Cermak Road in Cicero. Cicero police officers ordered Godinez to stand behind a squad car which was parked adjacent to the heavy traffic on Cermak Road. The police car did not have its emergency lights activated.

Godinez was standing behind the car with his hands on the trunk when he was hit by a drunk driver, Luis Contreras. Godinez had both legs traumatically amputated and was thrown from between the vehicles, landing on the sidewalk some 20 feet away.

"We believe, as the jury did, that the actions of the Cicero police officers rose to the level of willful and wanton conduct, the liability standard required in these cases were officers are in the process of enforcing the law," said Martin Healy, Jr. the attorney for the Godinez family.

Larry Dominick, then Deputy Chief Police and current Town President, testified that the officers involved violated applicable safety rules in not activating their emergency lights and by parking so close to heavy traffic and positioning Eduardo behind the squad car.

Eduardo Godinez moved to the Chicagoland area from Mexico in 1998. He left his wife and six children in Mexico in hopes of making a better life for them. His wife moved here in 2001. "Eduardo worked double shifts as a laborer and hoped to bring his six children to this country to live the American dream with his family. Sadly, because of the events of that night, he never got to see his children again," said Martin Healy, Jr.

Eduardo's wife, Norma, and oldest son, Luis, testified that Eduardo would call back to Mexico almost everyday and spoke to each of his children before getting off the phone.

The jury awarded $5 million to the family for the loss of Eduardo's society and $2.5 million for Eduardo's pain and suffering.

The Town of Cicero asserted that the drunk driver was solely at fault for the accident. The jury apportioned fault 45% to Cicero and 55% to the driver. Although named in the lawsuit Contreras never answered the complaint and a default judgment was entered against him.

Martin Healy, Jr., Jack Cannon and David P. Huber of Healy Scanlon Law Firm represented the Godinez family. George Spataro and K. Austin Zimmer of Del Galdo Law Group, Westchester, represented Cicero.

For Further Information Kindly Call:
Martin Healy, Jr.
Healy Scanlon Law Firm
312-324-0409