So why is a man who killed seven people being awarded $451,000 in a civil matter? We will get to that in a second but first, who is this person? According to the Huffington Post, a former handyman, James Degorski, is serving a life sentence for the 1993 murder of seven people at a suburban Chicago restaurant Brown’s Chicken and Pasta. Degorski and an accomplice manage to leave the scene with less than $2,000. The accomplice was also sentenced to a life sentence.
Along with an accomplice, Degorski was part of a “botched” robbery which resulted in the stabbing and shooting of two restaurant owners and five workers. The reason why Degorski was awarded nearly half a million dollars was because the jury believed Degorski when he claimed a Cook County jail guard punched him and broke his cheekbone and eye socket in 2002. Ann Ehlenfeldt, the sister of Richard Ehlenfeldt, one of the owners who was killed, said, “If broken bones are worth a half-million, then how much are seven lives worth? This just doesn’t feel right.” Even though Degorski has won this civil matter, prison officials could seek to seize the money to cover the costs of imprisoning Degorski which is about $20,000 per year at the Menard Correctional Center, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, the jury was only informed that Degorski was convicted of murder but was not to be told how he murdered, or how viscous in nature it was.
The amount of $451,000 in the civil ruling came from the jury ruling that Degorski should receive $225,000 in compensatory damages, which is the amount Cook County must pay. The difference, $226,000, would be paid in punitive damages which is the amount that would be paid by the officer who struck Degorski. What are your thoughts as to this case? Do you believe Degorski should receive all, a portion, or none of the monies he was awarded?