Arlington Hts., antique gun collector settle over confiscation; he gets $10,000
An Arlington Heights man who sued the village after police officers confiscated three of his antique weapons has settled out of court for $185,000 -- of which he'll see only $10,000.
The rest of the money, $175,000, will pay Art Lovi's attorneys, according to the settlement that Arlington Heights approved Monday.
The settlement closes a strange case that began in August 2012 when a therapist called Arlington Heights police to report that during a session with Lovi, he made a threat against a doctor who he believed misdiagnosed his wife's cancer, leading to her death.
The therapist added, however, that she did not think Lovi was a threat to himself or others.
That night, police came to Lovi's home and, over his objections, took the three antique firearms, including a musket that was more than 100 years old. All were unloaded and Lovi claimed he didn't have ammunition in the house.
Two days later he began trying to get the firearms back. A mental health assessment at Northwest Community Hospital declared Lovi was no danger to himself or anyone else, but he didn't get his guns back for another two months, and after he hired an attorney to help him.
In January 2013, Chicago-based law firm Meyer and Kiss filed a civil rights lawsuit on Lovi's behalf.
In April, a jury found the village and two of its police officers guilty of violating Lovi's rights. They ordered the village to pay Lovi $10,000 in punitive damages and for the two officers to pay him an additional $70,000.
The village appealed. When it became clear those damages were not going to hold up, negotiations began, leading to the settlement approved by the Arlington Heights village board Monday night.
Lovi could not be immediately reached for comment Monday, but Assistant Village Attorney Robin Ward said that as part of the settlement Arlington Heights admits no liability either for itself or any police officers.
Ward said Arlington Heights' insurance will pay the bulk of the $185,000 and the village will pay the rest. The police officers will not have to pay any money.
"We clearly don't believe we did anything wrong, but this is the decision we've come to," Ward said.
Even if the settlement had not reduced the payout, it would have been difficult for Lovi to collect the $70,000 in compensatory damages from the two police officers involved in the case, said his attorney, Dan Kiss. Lovi would have had to hire more attorneys and open separate collections cases against each officer, a process that would be timely and expensive.
An earlier charge, that police had violated Lovi's Second Amendment rights, was dismissed by a judge early in the case.
"It's not a perfect solution, but it never is when these things are over," Kiss said Monday. "He fought for this victory and he got it. While it's not the same number ($80,000), this is a compromise."