Civil Rights Attorneys Antonio M. Romanucci, Andrew M. Stroth and team win $4.93 million damages verdict for tragic death of Verona Gunn
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Former CPS teacher killed by CPD vehicles in a 2019 crash
CHICAGO, Ill. (March 29, 2023) — Attorneys Antonio M. Romanucci, Bhavani K. Raveendran and Bryce T. Hensley of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, Andrew M. Stroth of Action Injury Law Group, LLC and Julian Johnson of the Law Office of Julian Johnson announce the civil jury verdict of $4.93 million for the wrongful death of Verona Gunn and the personal injury claims of three occupants in her vehicle. Mrs. Gunn is survived by her children, respected West Side Pastor Dwight Gunn, Derrick Gunn and Vicki Steverson. The three other occupants of the vehicle, including Vicki Steverson, Mr. Maris Oliver and another minor family member also received awards.
Mrs. Gunn, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher and great-great-grandmother, was an innocent bystander killed on May 25, 2019, after a speeding police van ran a red light and collided with an unmarked police cruiser, which sent both vehicles in the Plaintiffs’ vehicle, causing fatal injuries to the 84-year-old and injuries to the other occupants. Both police cars failed to follow CPD protocol of proceeding through intersections or traffic signals only after determining it is reasonable and safe to proceed, and the city admitted liability in this case. Officer Patrick Brown, who was driving one of the CPD vehicles, was terminated for his role in this incident. Officer Noel Reina, who was driving the other CPD vehicle, is no longer on the force.
The verdict is one of the highest in the state of Illinois for the death of someone in their eighties. $4.75 million was allocated for the estate of Verona Gunn. The remaining balance of the award was divided among the other three people in the car with Mrs. Gunn when the collision happened, for their physical injuries and emotional suffering.
The jury trial was held in the Daley Center under Cook County Circuit Judge Janet Adams Brosnahan. The Gunn family is represented by Action Injury Law Group’s Managing Director Andrew M. Stroth, Romanucci & Blandin Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci, Partner Bhavani K. Raveendran and Senior Attorney Bryce T. Hensley, and Attorney Julian Johnson of the Law Office of Julian Johnson.
“Today, this jury honored their oath and made the City of Chicago accountable for the tragic and untimely death of Mrs. Verona Gunn. How many more innocent lives need to be taken away before the City’s leadership and our next Mayor mandate constitutional policing in Black communities,” said Action Injury Law Group Managing Director Andrew M. Stroth.
“This case is about the sanctity of every life, and we fought to convey to the jury that every life matters, regardless of age. We are pleased that the jury’s felt a person’s worth was not devalued as they age or because of any mental health or medical condition such as Alzheimer’s. Verona Gunn’s life mattered,” said Romanucci & Blandin Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci. “This verdict is in addition to another form of justice - that neither of the officers involved is with the CPD any further. One was terminated for this incident and one is no longer with the force. Verona Gunn lived her life dedicated to her family, and they were robbed of future ‘golden’ years with her because of the wrongful conduct of the CPD officers.”
Pastor Dwight Gunn, son of Verona Gunn and leader of Heritage International Christian Church in the Austin neighborhood, provided the following statement on the family’s behalf: “It has been nearly four years since our mother and grandmother’s death at the hands of failed policy and execution by members of the Chicago Police Department and The City of Chicago. During this lengthy process many in our family felt our mother’s legacy and loss of life was handled in an inconsiderate manner and showed a high level of disrespect. Today we have come to the end of this portion of our fight for accountability and justice. While the City has taken some responsibility, we hope for the next step of policy change and reform that improve policing in our community. It is our hope to honor our mother’s legacy by continuing to push for reforms that improve safe driving and eliminate accidents caused by the Chicago Police Department.”
About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC
Romanucci & Blandin is a Chicago-based national trial practice committed to fighting for victims of negligence, abuse and wrongful death. For 25 years, we have secured more than $850 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients - many for millions of dollars and others record-setting awards. Our experience ranges from mass shootings, civil rights and police misconduct to medical malpractice, sexual abuse, motor vehicle accidents or workplace injury cases involving individual or institutional negligence. Romanucci & Blandin is a valuable legal resource to individuals and groups of people who have been injured by others’ wrongdoing. Referring attorneys and clients say several factors differentiate our firm: Our record of success, depth of experience, talented and dedicated legal team, tireless preparation and strategic use of communications to fight for the rights of those whose lives have been changed forever. We are different from other personal injury firms in that our work does not stop when a verdict or settlement is secured. We are often inspired by our clients’ experiences and commit resources to create change in our communities. For more information about Romanucci & Blandin, please visit www.rblaw.net or call (312) 458-1000.
About Action Injury Law Group, LLC
Action Injury Law Group is an innovative and results-driven national civil rights law firm that represents victims of unjustified police brutality throughout the United States of America. Action is dedicated to serving the Black and Brown communities and working to effectuate police reform across the country. For more information please visit www.actioninjurylawgroup.com or call (844) 878-4529.
- Founding Partner
- Senior Attorney