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Brian P. Gainer: Representative Cases

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  • Secured a defense verdict in favor of the City of Chicago in a highly charged atmosphere and in a trial followed by local and national media. The trial involved charges of wrongful death against the City and a Chicago police officer in respect to an officer involved shooting that occurred in December of 2015.  There were also claims that one of the plaintiffs was falsely arrested after the shooting.  The decedent’s estate sought damages between $12-$25 million.  After a three-week trial, the jury was asked to answer a special interrogatory during its deliberations.  In response to the special interrogatory, the jury found that the officer’s use of deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily injury.  Based upon that finding, the court entered judgment in favor of the defense.
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of a municipality in Northern Illinois and two of its police officers.  In this federal court dispute, plaintiff alleged that the officers used excessive force in arresting her, resulting in injuries, including a broken arm. Plaintiff testified she was dragged out of a car and thrown to the ground face first. The arrest was captured on video by a squad car camera. Plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $240,000 against the officers for making the arrest. At the close of discovery, Johnson & Bell moved for summary judgment based upon Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1986). The motion asserted that the officers were justified in using necessary force to make an arrest under state and federal law, and that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. The court granted summary judgment for Johnson & Bell’s clients, finding that the motion established that the officers were justified in using force on an actively resisting suspect and the officers did not violate the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. The court accepted our argument that plaintiff was bound by the events captured on the squad car camera and could not use her deposition testimony to concoct disputed issues of fact that contradicted the video evidence.
  • Obtained a defense verdict in favor of municipal clients, who faced multiple charges, along with a demand for significant monetary damages. In this case, the police officers responded to a traffic accident where they encountered the plaintiff, who had been involved in the accident. Plaintiff became combative on scene, to the point where several nearby civilians had to assist the police officers in holding the plaintiff down so that he could be handcuffed. Plaintiff alleged that the officers kicked, punched, tasered and pepper sprayed him without justification, causing him significant and permanent injuries. The officers maintained that the only force applied was a taser, which was reasonable under the circumstances. Plaintiff claimed the officers used excessive force, violated his First Amendment rights, and maliciously prosecuted him. The plaintiff demanded significant monetary damages for his physical injuries as well as for time spent in custody. After one hour of deliberations, the jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the officers and the municipality on all counts.
  • Secured a defense verdict in a wrongful death case seeking $15 million in damages against a Chicago police officer. The plaintiff alleged that a Chicago police officer shot and killed the decedent without legal justification. Moreover, the plaintiff charged that the gun recovered by the police at the scene was “planted” to justify the shooting. After a two-week trial, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $15 million. The jury deliberated for eight hours before returning a defense verdict. Obtained a not guilty verdict in a recent Chicago municipal liability case tried in federal court.
  • Successfully defended two Chicago police officers against claims of excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecution. The officers in this incident heard gunshots in an area of the City’s south side, and then observed a large crowd and fight between a man and woman near the area of the shots. The plaintiff claimed that he was approached by one defendant officer, punched in the face without provocation, arrested for no reason, and then tasered by the second defendant officer while handcuffed and compliant. The defendant officers denied these allegations and claimed that the plaintiff approached them, grabbed one of the officers by the shoulder and would not let go, even after being told the defendant was a police officer and that he should immediately let go and leave the area. Eventually the police officer being held by the plaintiff punched the plaintiff to free himself from the plaintiff’s grip, and the second officer deployed his Taser ineffectively in an attempt to get the plaintiff under control and under arrest. Ultimately, the plaintiff was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery to a Police Officer and Resisting Arrest. The plaintiff was acquitted in criminal court, and he filed this civil action against the defendant officers. The case was tried in the Northern District of Illinois over a five-day period. After two hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict that was completely in the defendants’ favor.
  • Obtained a not liable verdict from a federal court jury in a police misconduct case against the City of Chicago. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant police officers stopped their car for no reason, used excessive force while beating and tazering him repeatedly, and then maliciously prosecuted him for crimes he did not commit. The defendants denied the plaintiff’s allegations, and explained that they stopped the plaintiff for a traffic violation, and then used necessary force to get him into custody while he was fighting with them over the arrest. The case was tried in the Northern District of Illinois before Judge Joan H. Lefkow, and the jury returned a verdict completely in favor of the defendants after an hour of deliberations.
  • Part of trial team that received a not guilty verdict for their clients, two Chicago Police Officers. The plaintiff alleged false arrest and unlawful search, and claimed emotional distress and mental anguish as a result of the arrest and for time spent in Cook County jail. The on-duty officers overheard a conversation about the sale of narcotics coming from an apartment and charged the plaintiff with possession of a controlled substance. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants did not recover drugs from her and lied so that they could send her to prison. The charges against the plaintiff were later dismissed. The defendants maintained that they had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff because they observed her with narcotics in her possession. The jury returned its not guilty verdict in just over an hour.
  • Received a favorable outcome for three police officer defendants and the City of Chicago. The plaintiff claimed that the police officers falsely arrested her, conspired to violate her civil rights, failed to intervene to prevent her rights from being violated, and maliciously prosecuted her. All of the plaintiff’s allegations arose from an incident that occurred on Nov. 3, 2007, when she was arrested during a Chicago Police Department narcotics-suppression mission at the Ida B. Wells housing projects on Chicago’s South Side. The plaintiff was charged with possession with intent to deliver a large amount of crack cocaine, and was jailed for 18 months following her arrest. She was found not guilty at her criminal trial, and then sued the arresting officers, their supervisor and the City. Each of the individual officers testified that they had probable cause to arrest and prosecute the plaintiff, and the federal jury sided with the officers.
  • Part of trial team that received a not guilty verdict for their client after a two day, federal trial before Judge Amy St. Eve. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants, Chicago police officers, used excessive force and failed to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force when he was being taken into custody for an armed robbery. The plaintiff claimed injuries included a broken wrist and slashes and scars to his back. The plaintiff asked for compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense in just over one hour of deliberations.