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Joseph Power, Jr.: Jury awards four $33.4M after shooting

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, by Jordyn Reiland, Law Bulletin staff writer


Patent attorney, two other die; security firm found at fault

A Cook County jury has awarded more than $33 million to four individuals who were shot in a downtown Chicago office building, three fatally, by a man who believed one of them stole his idea for a portable toilet.

Ruth Zak Leib and the respective estates of Michael R. Malec McKenna, Allen J. Hoover and Paul Goodson sued AlliedBarton Security Services LLC and its employees Sidney Chambers and Robert Brown, alleging disgruntled client Joseph Jackson never should have been allowed access to the office tower at 500 W. Madison, St. on Dec. 8,2006.

They also alleged AlliedBarton’s failure to have proper training and duress codes, which would have allowed the officers to alert one another of a dangerous person, was a proximate cause of those he injured or killed.

In 2002, Jackon hired patent attorney McKenna to look into getting a patent for his idea for a portable toilet to be used by truck drivers.  McKenna found out that numerous patents for substantially similar products already existed and informed Jackson that the product was not patentable.

Jackson believed that McKenna stole his idea and became obsessed with getting revenge against the lawyer who he felt had wronged him, according to McKenna’s attorney, Joseph A. Power, Jr., of Power, Rogers & Smith, LLP.

In early December 2006, armed with a revolver, hammer, hunting knife, chain and padlock, Jackson entered the Citigroup Center Building, as the skyscraper was then known.  The 42-story building contains offices, shopping and, on its lower floors, the Ogilvie Transportation Center. 

Evidence at trial showed AlliedBarton Security Supervisor Sidney Chambers saw Jackson loitering around the building over the course of a few hours that day.

Plaintiffs attorneys argued that despite her witnessing Jackson’s “suspicious” presence in the building, she did not take any action.

At around 8 p.m. Chambers and fellow AlliedBarton security officer Brown saw the building’s receptionist deny Jackson access to the upper-level tenant floors.

Jackson was told to leave and did but then returned almost immediately to the third-floor lobby area.  He then approached Brown, who was standing by himself.  He told Brown he had a gun and wanted to be taken upstairs.

Chambers approached the two men and asked Jackson if there was a problem.  Brown said everything was fine.

At trial, Chambers testified he found this highly suspicious, based on how close Jackson was standing to Brown and on Jackson’s previous actions in the building.

Despite these concerns, Chambers did not stop Brown and Jackson or further inquire where they were going when they headed toward the office tower elevators.

Once Jackson reached the 38th floor he shot and killed McKenna, Hoover and Goodson and shot and injured Leib before being killed by Chicago police SWAT officers.

Prior to trial, Cook County Circuit Judge Kathy M. Flanagan entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding the security company owed no duty to protect the plaintiffs and that their conduct could not, as a matter of law, be considered a proximate cause of the injuries and deaths.

In the 1st District Appellate Court decision issued in June 2015, the appellate panel found that the contract between the building manager and the security company specified that the security services provided were for the “protection of life” for the building’s tenants.  The summary judgment was reversed and the case was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.  The case is McKenna v. AlliedBarton Security Services, LLC 2015 IL App (1st) 133414.

The verdict was reached on Tuesday after a five-week trial.  On the defendants’ claim for contribution against Jackson’s estate, jurors found AlliedBarton 40 percent responsible and Jackson 60 percent responsible. 

Jurors did not find Brown legally responsible. 

Suits filed on behalf of Hoover, Goodson and Leib were consolidated with McKenna’s case. 

Jurors awarded $14.6 million to McKenna’s estate; $11 million to Hoover’s; $2.8 million to Goodson’s estate; and $5.05 million to Leib.

McKenna’s case is Suzanne E. Malec McKenna v. Allied Barton Security Services, LLC, et al. 15 L 12124.

“After a long road in overcoming summary judgement, justice finally prevailed for the families of these innocent victims,” Joseph Power said.

The estate of Allen Hoover was represented by Larry R. Rogers, Jr. of Power, Rogers & Smith, LLP.  The case is Louise E. Hoover v. AlliedBarton Security Services, LLC, et al. 16-L-159.

The estate of Paul Goodson was represented by Daniel M. Kotin of Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, LLC.  The case it Teiji Abe, et al. v. AlliedBarton Security Services, LLC, et al. 16-L-161.

Kotin said the verdict reflected the losses suffered and the security company’s failure to protect its tenants.

“The truth is Joe Jackson was a danger and that was a specific danger the company was hired to protect against and they failed,” he said.

Leib was represented by James I. Power of Power, Rogers & Smith, LLP.

Power said in failing to appropriately train the security officers, the company failed to live up to their contractual obligations. 

The case is Ruth Zak Leib v. AlliedBarton Security Services, LLC, 16-L-160.

The defendants were represented by John W. Patton Jr., Paul D. Motz and Kathryn R. Vaughn of Patton & Ryan, LLC.

“We are pleased the jury returned a defense verdict for the target defendant who we represented at trial,” Patton said.


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