The City of Chicago is finally looking to settle, six years after the police enabled an attack that left Christina Eilman permanently mentally and physically disabled. Most Chicagoans are probably familiar with Eilman’s case by now. She caused a disturbance at Midway airport in 2006 after suffering a bipolar breakdown. Officers arrested her and eventually released her in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. She was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and then fell from a seventh-story window, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Why might the officers be at fault? Though it seems many officers determined her to be a run-of-the-mill malcontent, others thought that she might need mental health care. Her stepfather warned the department that she was bipolar over the phone. They apparently thought it was a prank. Her mother also warned them. Her statements were never passed on.
Back in late April, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling that not only denied the city’s claims of immunity, but also stated, “They might as well have released her into the lions’ den at the Brookfield Zoo.”
In addition to the phone calls, several officers stated in depositions that they saw signs of mental illness. A supervisor ordered the officers to take her to a hospital, but they instead released her into the crime-ridden neighborhood because no vehicles were available, reports the Tribune.
The city signaled their willingness to settle the case by filing a motion to request a federal magistrate judge to mediate settlement talks. Eilman’s attorneys responded with a request for a private mediator, as the chosen judge is booked through the end of the year and the delays are affecting the uninsured Eilman’s ability to receive proper healthcare.
The victim’s parents, who are caring for her, are seeking nearly $100 million for her injuries and the cost of her future care, which is amplified by her normal life expectancy. Though she is expected to live a long time, she is permanently mentally and physically disabled and needs around-the-clock care.
To put the delays into perspective, while the lawsuit has been pending, Eilman’s kidnapper has been arrested, prosecuted, and released from prison after serving a six year sentence, reports the Tribune. Should the city’s motion be granted, the magistrate judge is not available until after the New Year. Also, there is no guarantee of a settlement, so it could delay the resolution of the case even further. Then again, the legal fees and time delay of a trial might make the settlement process worth the risk.