Appeals panel: Court can order kids to sit for depositions in negligence suit vs Edison Park school

By Zachary Lewis | Mar 17, 2017

Editor's note: This article has been revised from an earlier version, correcting the names of the attorneys representing the parties in the litigation.

CHICAGO – An Illinois appeals court has upheld a Cook County judge's ruling to deny a protective order sought by a group of parents to keep their children from being made to sit for depositions as part of proceedings in a lawsuit brought against a Chicago elementary school for failing to supervise the children, who then engaged in sexual conduct in a bathroom. 

A three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court supported the ruling from Cook County Circuit Judge William Gomolinski in the case of Doe v. Board of Education of Chicago, denying the plaintiffs' request for a protective order that would have blocked their children from giving depositions.

Justice Shelvin L.M. Hall authored the opinion; Justices Robert E. Gordon and Jesse Reyes concurred.

The justices ruled Gomolinski had not overstepped his discretion in denying the protective order.

The appeal originated from a negligence suit against the Chicago Public Schools and Edison Park Elementary School involving three minors who were discovered to have been engaging in sexual conduct in a school bathroom. 

The parents of the minors alleged school employees failed to properly monitor the students during recess hours between April 2011 and February 2012. 

When the defendants sought to have the children give depositions during discovery, the plaintiffs’ parents refused, arguing that conventional depositions could be traumatic for them. The plaintiffs then filed a motion for a protective order, and both parties were ordered to appear before Gomolinski.

Gomolinski had three state-supplied child psychologists examine the children to determine if they should give conventional depositions. The psychologists advised against it, offering alternatives and considerations.

Gomolinski ultimately denied the plaintiffs’ motion, but ruled the depositions would be conducted under the doctors’ considerations and suggestions. The parents filed a motion to reconsider, which was also denied. 

When the plaintiffs’ representatives failed to produce the children on the ordered date, the judge found the plaintiffs in friendly contempt, fining them $1 and leading the plaintiffs to appeal.

The parents and students are represented in the action by attorney George G. Argionis, with the firm of Argionis & Associates, of Chicago.

The school and other defendants are represented by attorneys Robert T. Shannon, Jennifer M. Ballard and Gretchen Harris Sperry, of the firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP,  of Chicago, and attorneys John Grady and Lauren Catlin, of Grady Bell LLP, of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Chicago Board of Education Grady Bell LLP

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