CHICAGO – The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, today (3/16/08) filed a hate crime lawsuit on behalf of the Jesse and Alisa Rodriguez Family against their neighbor, Joseph Marrone. The Rodriguez Family, which is of Puerto Rican descent, filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that Mr. Marrone has perpetrated a continuing pattern of civil rights violations and torts against the family since 2007, and that these violations have been based upon the Rodriguezes’ ethnicity. Both parties live on the 3600 block of North New England Ave. in Chicago.
According to the lawsuit, beginning in the fall of 2007, Mr. Marrone began to harass, intimidate and threaten the family because they are of Puerto Rican descent. Over the past 18 months, Mr. Marrone has shouted numerous racial and ethnic slurs at the entire family, threatened them with physical violence and sexual assault, and expressed an intent to force the Rodriguez Family to move out of the neighborhood. In November 2008, Mr. Marrone pled guilty to related criminal assault charges and was sentenced to probation.
The Rodriguez Family’s lawsuit further alleges that they have suffered such significant emotional injuries as a direct and proximate result of Mr. Marrone’s conduct, that they are considering moving. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for loss of civil rights and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages.
The Rodriguezes are represented in their lawsuit by Katten pro bono attorneys Alex Vesselinovitch and Jenny Leifer, and Betsy Shuman-Moore of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.
“We are pleased to partner with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee in their important work to improve the enforcement of the Illinois Hate Crime Act,” Ms. Leifer said. “Our goal is to secure compensation for the denial of the Rodriguez Family's rights and for the extreme emotional distress they have been forced to endure. We hope that by bringing this suit, justice will be served and others will be deterred from engaging in this type of racist and abusive conduct.”
For 35 years, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, through its 40-plus member law firms, staff and legal team, has provided free legal services to challenge discrimination and other civil rights violations in both the public and private sectors. For further information about the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, contact Clyde Murphy at 312-
630-9744, or visit www.clccrul.org.
Katten has a long-term commitment to helping the poor, the powerless and the disenfranchised obtain first-rate representation without charge. Attorneys and other legal professionals give their time, resources and talent to serve individuals and organizations in need, to engage in important national litigation, and to partner with local legal service providers to ensure access to the justice system.
Founded in 1974, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is a full-service law firm with more than 600 attorneys in locations across the United States and an affiliate in London. The firm’s business-savvy professionals provide clients in numerous industries with sophisticated, high-value legal services, with a focus on corporate, financial services, litigation, real estate, commercial finance, intellectual property and trusts and estates. Among our clients are a wide range of public and private companies, including nearly a third of the Fortune 100, as well as a number of government and nonprofit organizations and individuals. For additional information, visit www.kattenlaw.com.
The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights has released the following statement on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in CLCCRUL v. craigslist:
"We are pleased that the Seventh Circuit rejected the blanket immunity position of craigslist, the amici and the other circuits. While we are of course disappointed with the overall outcome of the case, we are gratified that the Court emphasized in the final paragraph of its decision that landlords and other housing providers who post discriminatory advertisements remain fully liable under the federal fair housing laws. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law will continue its efforts to identify and aggressively pursue housing providers who violate the law, whether they publish their discriminatory advertisements in newspapers or on-line."
The opinion is online here.