Chicago will end up paying $16 million to settle a lawsuit filed by about 900 participants a 2003 anti-war march when attorneys’ fees and a deal in a related lawsuit are added in.
The city’s Finance Committee on Monday approved paying the $6.2 million initially agreed to in the settlement, plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees of nearly $5 million that have accumulated over nine years of litigation and $1.14 million to settle a related lawsuit filed by 16 plaintiffs who didn’t join the class-action case.
The city’s legal costs were $3.8 million, making the total price tag $16 million.
City corporation counsel Steve Patton says Chicago was “unlikely to prevail” in the class action case after U.S. District Court Appellate Judge Richard Posner last year called the city’s policies for handling demonstrations “idiotic.”
Some 10,000 demonstrators flooded the plaza near the city’s federal courthouse in March 2003, shortly after the Iraq war began. The protesters marched to Lake Shore Drive, blocking traffic.
More than 500 people were detained, and about 300 were charged with crimes. All the charges were later dropped.
After the settlement was reached in February, city officials said they learned valuable lessons from the case. They point out that with recent demonstrations, police were careful to not make arrests unless they were absolutely necessary.
“The city chose to defend the indefensible for nine years, and they paid millions of dollars to an outside law firm to do so. So under the law, we are entitled to our legal fees,” said Joey Mogul, an attorney for the largest group of plaintiffs.
Mogul said had the city acknowledged its mistake years earlier, it would have saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
Payouts from the settlement will range from $500 for people detained by police but not arrested to $15,000 for people who were arrested, held for more than two days and prosecuted.
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