CHICAGO, Ill. — A $947,000 judgment awarded by a U.S. Southern District of Illinois Court jury to a Lawrenceville, Illinois mother in damages from her mother and stepfather in 2018 was upheld earlier this month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, according to court records.
Circuit Judges Kenneth Ripple, Amy Barrett and Illana Rovner heard argument Sept. 11 on the appeal filed by Jack and Angela Howser, issuing a ruling Nov. 7 that affirms the jury verdict reached Feb. 22, 2018.
According to the federal court case records, plaintiff Jade V. Green accused her mother Angela Howser, and stepfather Jack Howser, of conspiring with the Lawrence County sheriff and state’s attorney in taking her child when she was arrested on an out-of-county theft warrant in November, 2014. She filed suit in July, 2016.
Green settled out of court with the sheriff and state’s attorney prior to the three-day trial.
Jurors deliberated less than two hours before returning a verdict in Green’s favor. According to court documents, the jury awarded Green $250,000 for mental and emotional pain and suffering, $100,000 for loss of companionship, $120,000 for attorney’s fees she incurred, plus punitive damages of $250,000 from her mother and $250,000 from her stepfather.
Green filed a motion in March 2018 seeking the judicial sale of two real estate parcels owned by the defendants, with the proceeds to be applied to the judgment against them. The request remained pending through the appeals process.
The Howsers worked as journalists at several Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana newspapers before creating their own regional publication, where Jade Green worked.
Judge Barrett wrote the 16-page opinion for the higher court ruling, which rejected the Howsers' appeal that alleged insufficient evidence to support the jury verdict, that the magistrate judge's pretrial decision to exclude unfavorable about Green and that the damages awards were excessive.
In the written opinion, Barrett described the Howsers' actions as "reprehensible conduct," "intentional, manipulative and deceitful."
Editor's Note: Read the accompanying full text of the court opinion for full details of the case.