CHICAGO (CN) – A Gulf War veteran turned detective claims Cook County punished him for asking to be taken off an investigation that required him to dig up corpses and identify mutilated body parts, and triggered his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Robert Carroll sued Cook County in Federal Court.
Carroll was an Army sergeant from 1985 to 1992. During the Gulf War, he says, he “witnessed the many unspeakable horrors of war including, among other things, violence, grotesque disfigurement and massive loss of life.”
He says his tour of duty gave him post-traumatic stress syndrome.
After he was honorably discharged, Cook became a detective for Cook County, where he says he “became one of the defendant’s top detectives, receiving several recommendations for commendations for his work. For example, plaintiff served as lead investigator in solving defendant’s oldest missing person case on record.”
In May 2009, he opened an investigation called Operation Hallowed Ground, concerning Burr Oak Cemetery, in Alsip, Ill.
Carroll says he discovered “that certain former employees had engaged in horrific and unspeakable crimes including, among other things, mutilating, stockpiling, ‘double stacking,’ and otherwise improperly disposing of human remains; disinterring and removing human remains from their grave sites; re-selling desecrated and occupied grave sites; removing, moving and/or desecrating headstones marking and memorializing specific decedents’ final resting places; improperly disposing disinterred remains; and otherwise disturbing and failing to re-inter previously interred remains.”
During the investigation, Carroll says he had to “dig up and uncover disturbed human remains and attempt to match separated body parts from previously interred human remains.”
He says this “triggered a new bout of the traumatic stress disorder he contracted during his wartime experiences.”
Suffering severe emotional distress, Carroll says he requested reassignment. He says the county “responded to plaintiff’s request by retaliating against him by, among other ways, assigning him to a midnight shift patrol position as far away from his residence as possible.”
In August 2011, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs “diagnosed plaintiff with 70 percent total disability arising out of and related to post-traumatic stress disorder in a written finding which plaintiff also provided to defendant,” the complaint states. Carroll says Cook County’s own physicians found that he suffered from a work-related injury.
He says he asked to be reassigned “to work again in a desk job as a crime analyst or detective which would enable plaintiff to continue to provide his valuable experience and expertise to defendant’s crime investigations without exposing him to the factors which mirror the traumatic experiences in his past which caused his acute distress.”
But he says, “defendant refused and continues to refuse plaintiff’s request for an accommodation and has retaliated and continued to retaliate against plaintiff for seeking such an accommodation.”
Carroll seeks punitive damages for failure to accommodate, retaliation, and constructive discharge.
He is represented by Jeffrey Kulwin, with Kulwin, Masciopinto & Kulwin.