Lovelace, his sons and wife to receive $4.5 million in settlement of 2017 civil lawsuit against city, county
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Curtis Lovelace and other members of his family will receive $4.5 million as part of a settlement reached in the 2017 civil lawsuit filed against several members of the Quincy Police Department, Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha, former Adams County Coroner James Keller, the city of Quincy and Adams County.
Jonathan Loevy with the firm Loevy and Loevy in Chicago, who represented Lovelace, his sons Logan, Lincoln and Larson Lovelace, and Lovelace’s wife, Christine Lovelace, provided that figure in an email sent Saturday night to Muddy River News. Loevy wrote that the settlement amounted to “$1.5 million per year for each of the approximately three years Curt spent in jail awaiting trial.”
“No amount of money can ever make up for the injustices that Curt Lovelace and his family endured,” Loevy said in the email.
Loevy also defended Lovelace during a second trial held in Sangamon County, where a jury found Lovelace not guilty of first-degree murder on March 10, 2017. James Elmore and Jeff Page defended Lovelace in his first trial — declared a mistrial when the jury was deadlocked 6-6 — after he was charged with killing his first wife, Cory, on Feb. 14, 2006.
“We hope that this settlement shows that the named defendants have been held accountable and will encourage the change needed to ensure that others do not suffer this type of injustice,” read a quote in the email attributed to the Lovelace family.
Lyndsay Lovelace, Curt Lovelace’s oldest child, was not a part of the lawsuit.
Adams County will pay $800,000 to the Lovelace family, and the city of Quincy will pay $3.7 million.
Those figures were confirmed by attorney James Hansen with the firm of Schmiedeskamp, Robertson, Neu and Mitchell LLP in Quincy, who represented Keller, Farha and Adams County; and attorney James Palmer with the firm of Scholz, Loos, Palmer, Siebers and Duesterhaus LLP in Quincy, who assisted Chicago attorney Thomas DiCianni in the defense of the city of Quincy and former Chief Rob Copley, former Sgt. John Summers, former Lt. Dina Dreyer and Det. Adam Gibson of the Quincy Police Department.
The settlement was reached June 30 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Proceedings were held that day for five hours by video before Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley, who served as a mediator.
“I’ve tried a lot of cases of my time, and this has been an interesting one,” Palmer said. “What I can say best is to quote Judge Hawley. It’s an old song. You’ve probably heard it before. This is a good settlement, the judge said, because neither party is happy with it. I’m paraphrasing (Hawley), but the plaintiff wanted a lot more, and it appears the defendant gave more than they wanted to give. That’s an accurate description of basically what ended up happening.”
The city of Quincy is paying more than 80 percent of the money decided in the settlement. Palmer said he thought it was because there were more city employees named in the lawsuit, and Lovelace primarily focused many of the claims in the lawsuit on Gibson.
“I think the insurance companies kind of did the math in their own head,” Palmer said.
“In a civil case, this is a business decision,” Hansen said. “The people who are pulling the strings and have the ultimate authority are the insurance companies. They have the authority to settle a case, and they don’t need to get the city’s or county’s approval to do it.”
Hansen also said a jury would have heard about the issues during Keller’s term as coroner, which happened after the first Lovelace trial.
Keller announced his resignation on June 20, 2018, three weeks after a search warrant was served at Keller’s house. Officers found hydrocodone pills, and Keller did not have the authority to possess hydrocodone. He did not have a prescription.
Keller agreed to plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance in exchange for a sentence of two years of first offender probation on April 4, 2019.
Had a settlement not been reached on June 30, Palmer and Hansen said they were ready for a trial that was scheduled to be tried before Magistrate Judge Karen McNaught beginning Sept. 6.
“We were loaded for bear. We were ready,” Palmer said. “That’s what made this mediation qualitatively different from all the other mediations. Everybody — Hansen, Loevy, DiCianni — was ready. I was ready. I would have been there in a supporting role.”
“I was very much looking forward to trying this case on behalf of my clients to a jury,” Hansen said. “Unlike in his (first) criminal trial, Curt Lovelace would have taken the stand and had to testify in front of the jury.”
The settlement ends the possibility of the case going before a judge.
“This brings finality,” Hansen said. “Everyone moves on.”
“It doesn’t matter if I’m satisfied. It’s settled,” Palmer said. “It’s something that everyone can agree to.”
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