Filing claims Allendale employees were not certified to perform restraint

  • Shaquan Allen

    Shaquan Allen

  • Justin Serak

    Justin Serak

  • James Davis

    James Davis

Updated 1/23/2017 5:44 PM

Two Allendale Association employees charged in the choking restraint death of 16-year-old Shaquan Allen at the Lake Villa facility for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities were not certified to perform manual restraints, an amended lawsuit claims.

Attorneys for Allen's mother, Willie Mae Allen, filed the amended lawsuit in November in Cook County circuit court naming the nonprofit Allendale Association, employees James Davis and Justin Serak, and others involved in Allen's death. The complaint was filed shortly after Allen's death March 30, but was amended when Willie Mae Allen changed attorneys.


The case filed by the law firm Wolin and Rosen Ltd. of Chicago requests damages in "excess of the minimum jurisdictional limit."

Attorney Andrew Ellbogen, who represents Davis in the civil case, denied the allegations of wrongdoing.

Shaquan Allen was pronounced dead after he was restrained with an illegal chokehold during a confrontation with Davis, 37, of Round Lake, and Serak, 27, of Grafton, Wisconsin, authorities have said.

The complaint says Davis was privately called "eliminator" or "terminator" by residents and staff members. There have been several complaints he used prohibited choking techniques to subdue residents, it said.

The latest court document said Davis left Allendale's Bush Cottage and caused an "unsafe manpower shortage" and residents became disruptive toward each other and staff. Davis returned to Bush Cottage at 9:40 p.m. and instructed Allen to go to bed. Davis placed chokehold around Allen's neck as Serak held Allen's legs, the lawsuit claims.

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Choking a child is prohibited by the state Department of Children and Family Services, but Davis continued the chokehold until Allen was unconscious at 9:44 p.m., the lawsuit claims.

Manual restraint can be conducted only by certified staff members, according to the lawsuit. Allendale personnel files showed no current certification allowing Davis or Serak to conduct restraints, the lawsuit claims.

When Allen had trouble breathing, Davis told Serak to dump a cup of water on Allen to revive him, the lawsuit claims. No one started CPR despite Shaquan being "unresponsive and/or unconscious with irregular breathing and/or no breathing" between 9:44 and 10:04 p.m., according to the suit.

A nurse arrived at the cottage and performed CPR just before the rescue squad arrived at 10:04. Allen was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he died.

Davis is charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice, and Serak was charged with two felony counts of obstruction of justice for lying to police, authorities said. Serak is free from Lake County jail after posting 10 percent of his $50,000 bail. Davis remains in the jail on $500,000 bail.

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