The City of Madison has responded to a mother's suit involving a police pursuit saying her son was actively involved in the theft of a vehicle which prompted the chase.
Sheila Brawley, mother and next friend of Rhykeem Samuels, a minor, filed the four-count lawsuit on Nov. 11 against the City and officer J.D. Harris.
According to the complaint, Brawley claims Harris saw a vehicle speeding on Oct. 15. He allegedly began pursuit, which ended when the driver of the vehicle being pursued crossed the median of state Route 203, resulting in a head-on collision with a third vehicle, the suit states.
Brawley alleges the defendant should have known their acts would result in severe injury. As a result, Samuels was allegedly seriously and permanently injured and remains in intensive care with a brain injury, as well as multiple bone fractures, a tracheotomy and a collapsed lung.
Brawley and Samuels seek $50,000 from both defendants.
The defendants answered the complaint on Jan. 11 through attorneys Gerard Cook and Michael Victor of O’Halloran Kosoff Geitner & Cook in Northbrook.
They asserted seven affirmative defenses against the plaintiff, arguing that it is immune from the suit according to the Illinois Tort Immunity Act. They also state that “a local public entity cannot be held liable for an injury resulting from an act or omission of its employee where the employee is not liable.”
The defendants further argue that Samuels contributed to his alleged injuries. They claim Samuels was actively involved in the theft of the 2011 Honda Odyssey and that he knew Sykes would drive in an unreasonably dangerous manner. They add that the plaintiff breached a duty of care for his own safety by voluntarily entering the vehicle with Sykes when he knew it was stolen, knew it was being operated by a criminal and knew the risk of Sykes fleeing when confronted by the police.
Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder scheduled a case management conference for April 27 at 9 a.m.
The plaintiffs are represented by Bruce Mattea of The Mattea Law Firm in Collinsville.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-1505