March 12, 2008
JOLIET – A federal judge today denied a post-trial motion filed by the attorney for Kevin and Melissa Fox seeking to change the jury verdict with regard to their claim of conspiracy to intentionally inflict emotional distress on Melissa Fox.
In December, the jury found in favor of the Will County sheriff’s deputies regarding Melissa Fox’s conspiracy claim and awarded her no monetary damages with regard to that claim.
The Foxes’ attorney, however, asked U.S. District Court Judge John W. Darrah to alter or amend the jury’s verdict to make it a favorable finding for Melissa Fox with regard to the conspiracy claim.
Judge Darrah denied the Foxes’ request to rewrite or reinterpret the jury’s clear verdict in favor of the deputies on this issue.
“Plaintiffs’ argument as to the true intent of the jury is not convincing,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “As noted by the defendants, the jury’s verdict on Melissa Fox’s conspiracy claim was clearly stated on the verdict form. The jury placed a check mark under the “For Defendant” column beside the names of each of the five defendants and set the damages for the conspiracy claim at $0. Any inferences plaintiffs might draw from the jury’s award of punitive damages cannot overcome the clear statement on the verdict form that the jury found for defendants on the conspiracy claim.”
Attorneys for the deputies have filed a post-trial motion challenging a $2.5 million jury award to Melissa Fox for punitive damages. The defense attorneys argued that Illinois law does not allow punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and therefore the $2.5 million award should be eliminated from the judgment amount.
The defense attorneys argued that given the judge's ruling today, there is no basis under Illinois law for Melissa Fox to recover any punitive damages.
A status hearing on the defense motion is scheduled for April 16.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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