Jury Awards $650K To Fired Cicero Employee

CICERO, Ill. (STMW) — A federal jury Thursday awarded $650,000 in damages to a former Cicero town employee who claimed Town President Larry Dominick fired him in act of political retaliation.

Merced Rojas, a former Cicero handyman who did work for senior citizens, is delighted by the verdict, said his attorney, Dana Kurtz.

“He feels he’s really contributed to the community and to making a change in Cicero,” Kurtz said Thursday afternoon. “It may be a pebble in the ocean, but it’s a start.”

During the almost-two-week trial, Rojas claimed he was fired in 2006 because he is Hispanic and because he was no longer a Dominick political loyalist. Kurtz told jurors that the firing, retaliation and betrayal almost destroyed Rojas and his family.

The jury found that Rojas was a victim of political retaliation but not racial discrimination.

“I was elected to defend the rights of the taxpayers and I will not back down,” Dominick said in a written statement after the verdict. “I will not be discouraged by this jury ruling.”

Ray Hanania, Cicero’s spokesman, said the jury’s decision regarding the claims of racial discrimination is “a vindication against an ugly and false charge.”

Hanania said Kurtz “turned the trial into a circus, putting all politics and all politicians on trial in an atmosphere poisoned by biased media reporting.”

Dominick’s attorney, Craig Tobin, argued at trial that the town fired Rojas because he did a plumbing job for a homeowner for money on town time.

On Thursday, Tobin said: “We are not happy and don’t agree with the verdict, but we certainly believe in the jury system. … They did what they thought was right.”

Kurtz said the verdict sends the message that “corrupt politicians cannot retaliate against and fire people because of their political beliefs.”

The jury specifically ordered Dominick to pay $350,000 of the total award .

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • billyd

    Unconstitutional as it would be, I still kind of wish we had a minimum IQ standard for potential jurors. Although for this doofus, even a minimal IQ standard would make it extremely difficult to find a “jury of his peers.”

  • Rocio

    Its unfortunate that once again the Town of Cicero taxpayers have to pay for the stupidity and corrupt ways of all of the crooked leaders in Cicero.

  • http://leftnewshub.com/video-accusations-piling-up-on-rupert-murdoch Video: Accusations piling up on Rupert Murdoch | Left News Hub

    […] Jury Awards 0K To Fired Cicero Employee A federal jury Thursday awarded 0,000 in damages to a former Cicero town employee who claimed Town President Larry Dominick fired him in act of political retaliation. Read more on CBS Chicago […]

  • Lyndia

    Cicero has been crooked for a long time. It is just a small surburb but many of the small suburbs are crooked.

  • Right

    Maybe they should appeal the verdict.

  • Tom

    Forget about checking the I.Q. of the jurors, as was pointed out above. Check the IQ of the citizens. I just don’t get it. Cicero cops go to jail. Cicero politicians go to jail. The politicians hob knob with crooks. The city pays out bucket loads of money in law suits. And the same folks get elected over and over.

    On the other hand, I always look forward to the next city employee or politician getting indicted or arrested. Patrick Fitzgeral and his crew are probably taking a look around town right now……………..

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live