URBANA — An open-records request has revealed that $2.2 million will be given to the children of a Hoopeston man to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by his estate against Ford County, its sheriff and two county jail employees.
John Kraft of the Edgar County Watchdogs obtained the amount of the settlement from Ford County State’s Attorney Andrew Killian on Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The settlement was reached last month in U.S. District Court in Urbana, but the exact amount was not disclosed. Attorney Janine Hoft of the Chicago-based People’s Law Office, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Richard J. Gonzalez’s estate, would only say that the amount was “substantial” and was in the “multimillion-dollar” range.
“In response to your FOIA inquiry, the estate of Mr. Gonzalez agreed to a dismissal of all claims against the named Ford County defendants in exchange for three annuities, one each for Mr. Gonzalez’s heirs, totaling 2.2 million dollars,” Killian wrote in response to Kraft’s FOIA request.
The seven-count lawsuit was filed in 2013, naming Ford County, Sheriff Mark Doran and two unnamed jail employees as defendants.
The lawsuit alleged that correctional officers “failed and/or refused” to provide Mr. Gonzalez, a 30-year-old Hoopeston resident, with proper medical treatment for “serious medical needs” and instead locked him in a solitary padded cell. The lawsuit further alleged that jail staff conspired to cover up the circumstances surrounding his death in May 2012.
“We believe that if adequate medical care had been provided to Mr. Gonzalez, he would still be with us today,” Hoft said.