Cases & Deals

City of Chicago wins federal jury verdict in §1983 case

Client(s) City of Chicago

On October 18, 2013, after just 45 minutes of deliberations, a federal jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Jones Day client, the City of Chicago, in the trial of Portis v. City of Chicago (02-3139, N.D. Ill.). The verdict marked the end of the 11 year-old case, which began in 2002 as a putative class action against the City brought by individuals who claimed the length of their detentions following their arrests for municipal ordinance violations carrying a maximum penalty of a "fine-only" were so unreasonable as to violate their Fourth Amendment rights. For these section 1983 claims, the plaintiffs had to prove not only a constitutional violation, but also that the violation occurred due to an official policy or custom of the City, and deliberate indifference on the part of the policymaker. The district court had certified a class in 2003 of approximately 20,000 individuals, and in 2008 granted summary judgment on liability in favor of the class. In 2010, the Seventh Circuit reversed both the class certification decision and the grant of summary judgment, and remanded the matter to the district court.

The case proceeded to trial on October 11, 2013 on the individual claims of the two original named-plaintiffs in the class action, Ronald Portis and Mardric Lance. On October 18, 2013, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the City on both claims. The Jones Day trial team was led by Chicago partners Brian Murray and Morgan Hirst and included Chicago associates Mark DeMonte, Matt Singer, and Meghan Sweeney. Overall management of the case since its onset in 2002 was led by Chicago partner June Ghezzi. The plaintiffs were represented by the former Corporation Counsel of the City of Chicago, Judson Miner, and noted civil rights attorney Michael Kanovitz, of Loevy and Loevy, who led the trial team for plaintiffs.

Portis v. City of Chicago, No. 02 C 3139 (N.D. Ill. October 18, 2013)