Announcement to Class Members in Vodak v. City of Chicago

Dear Vodak v. City of Chicago potential class members:

February 9, 2012

There is important and exciting news about the settlement of this case.

On March 20, 2003, the Chicago police illegally detained and arrested you during a peaceful protest against the disastrous war in Iraq. Since then, your lawyers and legal workers, all members of the National Lawyers Guild, have been working to right that wrong. Last year we won an important victory in the case when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion which strongly criticized the City of Chicago for its treatment of the demonstrators and reinstated the case after it had been dismissed by the District Court. This opinion, which holds that the City cannot arrest peaceful demonstrators without warning, merely because they do not have a permit, will apply to all future demonstrations.

Now, on the eve of trial, after we have been working on the case for nearly nine years, the City has finally agreed to settle this case. This is an important victory, not just for you individually, but for all of us, since it reaffirms the right of people to peacefully protest. Under the terms of the proposed settlement the City has agreed to provide a total of $6.2 Million to compensate each of more than 700 potential class members.

As you know, the class is made up of three different sub-classes. The amount of money to which you will be entitled will be based on which sub-class you are in. We expect the break-down to be as follows:

– A-3 sub-class: those who were arrested, charged and had to go to court, will receive up to $15,000

– A-2 sub-class: those arrested and released without being charged, will receive up to $8,750

– A-1 sub-class: those who were held on the street for over 90 minutes, will receive up to $500

In addition, there will be payments to persons who are named in the lawsuit as the class representatives (and who had to do be in regular communication with the legal team and to defend themselves against counterclaims filed by the City), and to people who were required to give depositions in the case.

There are many steps that still need to happen as part of the process, which we expect to take up to a year. These steps include a hearing to take place in front of the judge who must approve the settlement, the settlement being approved by Chicago City Council, and a formal process of notifying class members. The City will not pay out any monies until 2013.

Your lawyers will also be negotiating with the City and petitioning the court to separately pay their legal fees and the costs of the case. These fees and costs will not reduce in any manner the amount of money to be paid to the class members.

Based on our collective experience litigating police misconduct cases for decades, we feel very positive about this settlement and about the amount of compensation for each sub-class member. We also believe that such a significant settlement will send an unequivocal message to the City of Chicago and its Police Department that they must respect your right to demonstrate.

We will be posting updates on the settlement as the process continues, which we will send out via email or post online. Please update us on any changes in your contact information. You can also check for updates on or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at or call (773)235-0070.

Thank you,

The Vodak Legal Team

People’s Law Office: Janine L. Hoft, Sarah Gelsomino, Joey L. Mogul, John L. Stainthorp and Brad Thomson

James Fennerty of James R. Fennerty and Associates

Melinda Power of the West Town Community Law Office