CHICAGO (CN) - A woman's wrongful death suit against Greyhound has languished in Cook County Court for 12 years, a victim of corrupt judges and greedy lawyers, she claims in a new lawsuit against three former judges.
Cristina Zvunca sued Cook County, Greyhound Lines, former judges William Maddux, Daniel Locallo, and William Haddad, attorney David Novoselsky, and others in Federal Court.
In 2002, 7-year-old Cristina Zvunca saw a Greyhound bus crush to death her mother, Claudia Zvunca.
"Twelve years later, the case has still not been tried," the lawsuit states. "A year ago, the Illinois Appellate Court issued a page-breaking opinion revealing two reasons: corrupt judges in the Circuit Court of Cook County and corrupter attorneys they referred to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC)."
Greyhound's investigation concluded that the driver, Wesley Tatum, did not exercise proper care when he heard Zvunca pounding on the door, and did not stop the bus to allow Zvunca back on after making a pit stop, according to the complaint.
A wrongful death case filed on Zvunca's behalf was assigned to Judge Susan Zwick, but the attorney for Zvunca's estate, David Novoselsky, wasted no time in trying to get Zwick kicked off the case.
"Between May 2008 and August 2009, Novoselsky filed no less than 19 substitution of judge motions to remove [Zwick]. All failed," the complaint states.
Novoselsky did not give up - in part, because he personally represented Judge William Maddux, president judge of the Law Division, in Maddux's challenge to the Compulsory Judges Retirement Act, according to the complaint.
Maddux had the authority to hear Novoselsky's claim of judicial bias and reassign the case.
Maddux refused to recuse himself from the case, the complaint states, and assigned it to Judge Daniel Locallo, who "remove[ed] Zwick, but couldn't identify what the cause was. Neither could the many other judges that denied the same motion.
"No surprise to Novoselsky. Two weeks before, he writes, Maddux will 'return from vacation' and enter an 'order, which will remove the case from Judge Zwick and give [it to] Judge Locallo," according to the complaint. (Brackets and phrasing as in complaint.)
When Locallo retired from the bench, Judge William Haddad took over the case, and awarded Zvunca $2 million, about a quarter of what another judge valued her claim at, and set aside about half the award for the lawyers, despite the fact that they "all refused to produce their time sheets," Zvunca says in the complaint.
"In a tree breaking opinion, [sic] the Illinois Appellate Court reverses them," the complaint states. "Locallo's order removing Zwick was called arbitrary and capricious. Cairo and Novoselsky are referred to the ARDC. Maddux was condemned as having a conflict of interest who never should have touched the case. Haddad's settlement was thrown out." (Reference to exhibit omitted.)
Judges Maddux and Haddad resigned after the Judicial Inquiry Board threatened to file charges against them, the complaint states.
It adds: "No defendants are entitled to immunity.
"They were vindicating personal objectives, helping out their friend, acting with a deliberate or reckless disregard of plaintiffs' constitutional rights and causing the constitutional deprivation at their direction or with their knowledge."
Zvunca seeks damages for violation of due process, conspiracy, aiding and abetting, intentional interference with prospective advantage, and breach of fiduciary duty.
She is represented by John Xydakis.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.