CHICAGO – The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Inc. and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, today filed a hate crime lawsuit on behalf of the family of Antwana Muhammad against three men who allegedly perpetrated a racially motivated campaign of harassment against them from September 2006 through October 2010. The Muhammad family, which is African-American, filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court against David Belardo, Daniel Hilbert, and Steven Schultz.
According to the complaint, four years of harassment against the family culminated on March 26, 2010 when Belardo, Hilbert, and Schultz spray-painted racial epithets, including “NIGGER” and “KKK” on the Muhammads’ garage in a successful effort to intimidate and terrorize them, causing them to suffer great emotional stress and damages. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for violation of civil rights and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages.
Belardo, Hilbert, and Schultz were criminally charged for this act. Belardo pled guilty to a hate crime, while Hilbert and Schultz each pled guilty to criminal defacement of the Muhammads’ and other neighbors’ property.
The Muhammad family is represented in their lawsuit by Katten attorneys Alexander Vesselinovitch, David Benson, Blake Mills and Kara Ervin, and Betsy Shuman-Moore of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee.
“Through this lawsuit, we seek to vindicate the rights of the Muhammad family and to make the defendants pay for the emotional distress they have caused the family to endure,” said Ms. Shuman-Moore. “We are also asking the court to order the defendants to pay punitive damages to demonstrate that Chicagoans reject racist conduct like this and to deter others from committing it.”
For 41 years, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, through its 40-plus member law firms, staff and legal team, has provided free legal services to challenge discrimination and other civil rights violations in both the public and private sectors. For further information about the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, contact Jay Readey at 312-630-9744, or visit www.clccrul.org.