Murderer serving life in jail for killing seven people wins $500,000 in lawsuit after guard punched him in self defense
What would you define as cruel and unusual punishment of an inmate? Attorney Jennifer Bonjean doesn’t know the meaning of “civil rights” yet she used it as a tool in her most recent win.: Her client: murders 7, goes to prison and then sues the prison guard who punched him: back in: self defense?????
A former handyman serving life in prison for the 1993 murder of seven people at a suburban Chicago restaurant has been awarded nearly a half-million dollars in a civil lawsuit in which he alleged a jail guard punched him in the face.
Victims’ relatives Sunday criticized jurors’ decision for James Degorski, who, with an accomplice, shot and stabbed two restaurant owners and five workers at Brown’s Chicken and Pasta during a botched robbery. Their bodies were found in a walk-in cooler and freezer.
Degorski, now 41, accused a Cook County Jail guard of punching him and breaking his cheekbone and eye socket in 2002 – just after Degorski’s arrest in what had been one of the most notorious, unsolved murder cases in Illinois history.
‘If broken bones are worth a half-million, then how much are seven lives worth? This just doesn’t feel right,’ said Ann Ehlenfeldt, a sister of Richard Ehlenfeldt, one of the owners who was killed.
But Degorski’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, hailed the jury’s decision, which came Friday after a three-day trial.
‘I think it’s a beautiful day for civil rights when a jury can put aside emotions and say we are all entitled to our civil rights,’ she said. ‘It’s about protecting the constitutional rights of the least among us.’
Winters said he thought U.S. District Judge Robert Dow, who presided over the civil trial, was wrong to rule jurors could not be told any details of the restaurant killings.
‘We were only allowed to say he (Degorski) was convicted of murder. … It wasn’t explained to them how vicious this guy was,’ Winters said about jurors in the civil case. Officer Wilson knew who this guy was,’ Winters said. ‘So when he was attacked, he was going to respond in kind. We believe this was a case of self-defense.’
The jury said Degorski should get $225,000 in compensatory damages, which is the amount Cook County must pay, attorneys said; $226,000 in punitive damages would have to be paid by Wilson.
What really gets me is that this murderer, Degorski, gets to ruin one more mans life after he took 7 away. The prison guard, Wilson, will not be able to afford to pay off the $226,000 in punitive damages. He will be financially ruined and the day he defended himself against Degorski will haunt him the rest of his life. Attorney Jennifer Bonjean’s family should be real proud of their daughter because sometimes, #winning is more important than being human.