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Village of Dolton denied new trial as record $33.5M verdict upheld


The south suburban Village of Dolton will pay two victims of a high-speed police chase $33.5 million after a Cook County judge rejected an attempt to overturn a record personal injury verdict that remains one of the highest for police misconduct in Illinois history.

Last August, a jury awarded the record amount to relatives of John Kyles and Duane Dunlap. On October 9, 2016, they were passengers in a car driven by a third man, who sped off when police in Dolton tried to pull over the vehicle for running through a stop sign at the intersection of Greenwood Road and Sibley Boulevard in Dolton.

During the mile-long chase, police vehicles sped faster than 80 miles per hour and drove through multiple stop signs before the car crashed near Zion Covenant Church, in the 14200 block of Greenwood Road, according to news reports.

One attorney said the victim’s car crashed into a large garbage container, then struck a guardrail before hitting a parked vehicle, and that Kyles, 22, and Dunlap suffered the brunt of the impact.

Duane Dunlap
Duane Dunlap

Attorneys for the men said Kyles died at the scene and Dunlap suffered brain injuries that will require “permanent residential care.”

A Cook County jury awarded Kyles’ family $10 million, and Dunlap’s family $23 million on August 3, 2022.  However, the jury did not find Sgt. Lacey guilty of “willful and wanton” misconduct after he and fellow officer Ryan Perez had been accused of causing the accident that killed John Kyles and injured Duane Dunlap.

The verdict has placed Dolton in a dilemma, as it had only about $10.5 million dollars of insurance. Attorneys for the victims said interest costs in last August’s verdict are accruing against Dolton at a rate of $2 million a year.

“For years in conferences before the trial, we warned the Village of their insurance shortfall,” said Jon Loevy, lead attorney for the victims’ families. “However, the Village’s former administration rejected every attempt at a settlement within their insurance policy’s limit. This is a problem of their own making.”

Besides Loevy, attorneys for the families are Locke Bowman and Quinn Rallins of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law and independent practitioner Attorney Daniel Stohr.

Dolton’s attorneys tried to appeal the verdict, but on March 31 a Cook County judge denied their request for a new trial.

The original lawsuit alleges Sgt. Lewis Lacey, one of the officers involved in the chase, had been involved in six previous chases that resulted in injuries, including one that occurred on the same stretch of Greenwood Road where Kyles died.

The lawsuit also alleges Ryan Perez, another officer involved in the chase, was a 22-year-old probationary officer who had been involved in four high-speed chases during just 11 months on the job.

It also stated Dolton records showed Lacey had filed a workman’s compensation claim against the village over injuries suffered in a wreck, and had totaled multiple police vehicles.

Overall, Dolton police have been involved in 50 chases from 2011 to 2016, half of which caused injuries, property damage or fatalities, according to the lawsuit.

This story was updated on May 10, 2023.


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