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April 6, 2012 > Premises liability lawsuit resolved

Premises liability lawsuit resolved

By Officer Kim Macdonald

A recent court decision in Illinois involving premises liability was settled for $10 million dollars after a woman was killed in her apartment. The property management company and owner of the building are responsible for paying $1 million of that amount.

The facts of the case are listed below:

A Cook County jury has awarded $10 million to the family of a 21-year-old woman who was beaten and strangled in her Edgewater apartment seven years ago. Melissa Dorner was found dead in her apartment in the 6100 block of North Winthrop Avenue on Jan. 24, 2005. She had moved to the apartment five months earlier, relocating there after a serial rapist attacked her the previous March. A former resident of the building, Roberto Ramirez, was detained in Mexico a year later and extradited back to Chicago. Police say his hair, some clothing and other evidence were found at the murder scene. He pleaded guilty to her killing and is serving a 50-year sentence at the Menard Correctional Center.

Lawyers had argued that Ramirez had been accused of assaulting another woman in the Winthrop building two months earlier. But the managers of the building did not follow up on the case, and Ramirez was allowed to remain living there, the lawyers argued. "Had the management company followed its own policies and procedures in screening prospective tenants, Ramirez would never have been in the building," said one of the lawyers for the family, Colin Dunn said. "Numerous policies were either violated or ignored." Jurors reached their verdict after deliberating a day and a half. The jury assessed 90 percent liability against Ramirez and 10 percent to the building management, Wilmette Real Estate and Management, and the building owner, BCH Tower LLC of Chicago.

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