Watch CBS News

Cicero's Dominick Wins New Trial In Lawsuit By Fired Employee

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A federal judge has granted Cicero and Town President Larry Dominick a new trial in a civil lawsuit.

As WBBM Newsradio's Bob Conway reports, the ruling comes six months after a jury sided with a former Cicero town employee who claimed Dominick fired him for political reasons, the Chicago Tribune reported.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Bob Conway reports


The jury had awarded $650,000 in damages to Merced Rojas, but rejected a claim that he was fired because of racial discrimination.

Rojas claimed he was fired in 2006 because he is Hispanic and because he was no longer a Dominick political loyalist. His attorney, Dana Kurtz, told jurors that the firing, retaliation and betrayal almost destroyed Rojas and his family.

But U.S. District Judge James Holderman threw out the jury's decision saying Kurtz "engaged in a pattern of misconduct" by trying to introduce inadmissible and prejudicial evidence tainting the jury's verdict, the Tribune reported.

Among those statements were that Rojas' car was repossessed, and his house was foreclosed upon, because Dominick fired him, the Tribune reported. But it turned out that Rojas immediately got his car back, and he had the money on hand to pay his mortgage, the newspaper reported.

But in ordering a new trial, Judge Holderman also said there was evidence presented at the first trial that backed up Rojas' claims of political retaliation, the Tribune reported.

A spokesman for the Town of Cicero told the newspaper Rojas was fired because he did personal work on town time.

Following the jury's verdict in July, spokesman Ray Hanania also said Kurtz "turned the trial into a circus, putting all politics and all politicians on trial in an atmosphere poisoned by biased media reporting."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.