Genoa Alderman Resolves Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the City for $225,000

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Charles Cravatta, 45, a life-long resident of Genoa, Illinois and a current City of Genoa Alderman obtained a $225,000 settlement in exchange for releasing his civil rights claims against the City of Genoa, its former Officer Lopez, and its former mayor, Todd Walker.

On July 22, 2011, Cravatta was arrested and charged with aggravated assault of a police officer and aggravated domestic battery. Prior to being arrested, Cravatta was punched in the face twice, and alleged he was kneed in the thigh while secured in handcuffs. He was found not guilty of committing any crime in July of 2013 after a multi-day jury trial. (See here)

Cravatta filed a civil rights lawsuit in July of 2012. Officer Lopez had been previously suspended by the Hanover Park police force after battering an unarmed teenager, without provocation, in 1995 and had been found by the Hanover Park police department to be
less than truthful in its investigation. Hanover Park Police disciplined the officer numerous times during his tenure as an officer.

An amended complaint alleged that Genoa’s former Mayor Todd Walker allegedly retaliated
against Cravatta for filing his lawsuit, in violation of his first amendment right to seek redress for grievances by attempting to influence and ensure Cravatta’s criminal prosecution. The civil rights lawsuit was pending in Federal District Court in Rockford, Illinois, and was ultimately resolved twelve days before a jury trial was scheduled to convene. The case settled after a day and half of negotiations with the court and parties. The case was vigorously prosecuted and defended. Twenty-four deposition were conducted with six expert witnesses retained to offer opinion testimony, along with two consulting experts being retained by Cravatta’s attorney.

Ironically, in the middle of the lawsuit, Cravatta, after realizing that a lawsuit was not being effective to make timely institutional changes he believed were needed to prevent any future harm to Genoa citizens, decided to run as an alderman of the City of Genoa and was elected by his constituents to serve as a Genoa alderman during the 2015 election.

While an alderman, Cravatta became the police department’s biggest proponent and has facilitated initiatives to ensure all squad cars have cameras that work in order to document all encounters and preserve an objective narrative of all police contacts. He has worked to increase funding so that Genoa officers are better equipped and trained to handle civilian encounters without resorting to the unnecessary use of force. Being able to effectuate change from within the City rather than purely as a litigant has been one of the most rewarding experiences of his life outside his family and religion, according to Cravatta.

The settlement will be paid by the City’s insurer and the settlement will not affect any taxes, services, nor increase any other cost to the residents within the community of Genoa.

Cravatta was represented by attorney C. Nicholas Cronauer. Attorney C. Nicholas
Cronauer is an attorney licensed in state and federal courts in Illinois and Utah. He is a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, along with other professional groups devoted to ensuring safety among people and products within our communities as well as promoting equal access to the civil jury system for everyone. Visit the Burns Cronauer Brown website now to learn more about their services.