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10/07/94 CAROL SIMMONS v. CHICAGO HOUSING AUTHORITY

October 7, 1994

CAROL SIMMONS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHICAGO HOUSING AUTHORITY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Allen A. Freeman, Judge Presiding.

Rehearing Denied November 2, 1994. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied February 1, 1995.

McNULTY, Murray, Gordon

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mcnulty

JUSTICE McNULTY delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff Carol Simmons brought suit against defendant, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), claiming that defendant was negligent in hiring, supervising and directing security guards from Triad Security. The jury returned a verdict in favor of defendant. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial and the trial court granted the motion after finding that the jury's verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence. A new trial was held and the jury found in favor of plaintiff and awarded her $200,000 in damages. Defendant appeals and we reverse the judgment of the trial court and enter judgment n.o.v. in defendant's favor.

Plaintiff testified at trial that she would visit her relatives approximately three times a week at 2501 West Lake Street, in the Henry Horner Homes in Chicago. Approximately two out of the three times a week that she would visit, the elevator was not operating. Plaintiff testified that between 8 and 9 p.m on May 19, 1984, she went to the Lake Street building to visit her sister. The elevator was not operating so she took the stairs. When plaintiff approached the 7th floor, she was grabbed from behind. She was then raped by three of the four men who approached her. When another man approached, the four men ran towards the seventh floor. Plaintiff then went to her sister's apartment, her sister called the police, and she was taken to Cook County Hospital. Plaintiff testified that she did not talk to any security guards.

Plaintiff testified that she had seen security guards, armed and in uniform at the Henry Horner Homes. Plaintiff stated that she felt safe when she saw the guards and she thought that they were there to protect her. Plaintiff never saw a security guard upstairs in the building and she did not see any guards on the night of the rape.

Plaintiff testified that after the rape, she began drinking more, had trouble sleeping, and stopped socializing with her family. Since the rape, she has not gone back to her sister's apartment at night and only goes there with an escort during the day.

Police officer Richard Hough testified that he arrived at the Lake Street building at 9:30 p.m. in response to a report of a crime. Officer Hough found no witnesses or offenders of the crime and no physical evidence in the area plaintiff claimed the attack occurred. Plaintiff described in detail the men who attacked her. She told Officer Hough that she went down the stairs after the attack.

Detective Daniel Centraccio testified that he investigated one crime a week at the Henry Horner Homes. He was not aware of any security guard agency working at the CHA. On May 19, 1984, he was called to investigate a rape at the Henry Horner Homes. He went to see plaintiff at the hospital and she told him that two men had attacked her. He found no physical evidence at the scene and found no witnesses. Plaintiff told Detective Centraccio that she was attacked while walking down the stairwell. She did not mention that the attack was interrupted by the presence of another person. The offenders were never apprehended.

Daniel Dantes, a statistician who compiles crime statistics for the City of Chicago, testified that the statistics are put in an annual report for the Mayor's department. The 1983 statistical summary was available to the public on July 1, 1984. The Chicago Municipal reference library copy was not available to agencies until August 8, 1984. The 1984 statistical summary was not released until November 1985.

Gwendolyn Anderson worked in the CHA security office from 1980 to 1983. She testified that the Chicago police department was there to protect the property, the people and the residents. In addition to the regular Chicago police department, there was a special unit called the Public Housing Police Unit. It was established in 1982. Residents were informed of this unit. Anderson never told any tenant or visitor that CHA security guards from Triad were there to protect them. According to Anderson, uniformed officers and plainclothesmen patrolled the Henry Horner Homes. Anderson's job at the CHA was to protect CHA property, not to protect people against violent crimes.

Irwin France testified that he was the interim director of the CHA between December 1983 and June 1984, and during that time, he signed the request for the 1984 budget. The budget included an appropriation of money for security services. The budget request states that money used for hiring security companies "includes costs for private security services for the protection of authority owned property and residents therein." Before that, security companies had been hired to protect warehouses and buildings which were not occupied. During the time that Anderson was interim director, security guards at the Henry Horner Homes were expected to protect persons and property.

Winston Moore, former CHA director of security testified that his job was to coordinate security contracts, but he did not actually hire security companies. Moore testified that the special housing unit of the Chicago police department had 120 full-time officers. In 1984, two guards were assigned to patrol the Henry Horner Homes. Their job was to patrol the maintenance and management area and also to protect vacant units from vandalism. Moore claimed that Triad was ...


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