In a dispute over a parking space on September 17, 2001, Cook County Jail
guard Donald Keith punched jail social worker Virgean Houskins in the face.
She reported the incident to the jail, police, state attorney general's
office, and the sheriff's internal affair's department. Houskins was then
suspended for three days without pay for using obscene language during the
confrontation but Keith was not suspended.
Houskins sued Keith and Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan claiming First
Amendment violations for retaliation for speaking out about abusive conduct
and Keith's lack of punishment. She claimed this broke the code of
silence that shields guard's accountability for abusive conduct. She
sought $174,000 in damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss
of enjoyment of normal life, and loss of income during her suspension.
On March 3, 2006, the jury awarded Houskins $240,000 in compensatory
damages against the Sheriff for retaliation; $10,000 in compensatory
damages and $50,000 punitive damages against Keith for assault and battery
for a total of $300,000. See: Houskins v. Sheahan, USDC ED IL, Case No. 03C
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Related legal case
Houskins v. Sheahan
|USDC ED IL, Case No. 03C 6553