Jury awards Palatine man's family more than $1 million for one-punch death
Devastated by Michael Platt's acquittal on first-degree murder charges stemming from a confrontation outside a Palatine bar, the parents and siblings of Ryan Flannigan say they've found justice in a civil jury's decision on Friday that Platt caused Flannigan's death.
Following a weeklong trial at the Daley Center in Chicago, the eight-man, four-woman jury awarded the family a little over $1 million in damages for Flannigan's death. The amount was far lower than the $20 million Flannigan attorneys had requested, but tearful family members didn't mind.
"It was never about the money," said Ryan's father, Tim Flannigan. "It was always about what should have been done the first time around."
Michael Sorich, the attorney for the Flannigan family, said Platt caused Flannigan's death by punching him in the left temple on July 18, 2014, outside Pops Bar and Grill in Palatine. The blow knocked out the Fremd High School and Western Illinois University graduate, who fell to the pavement, struck his head, and died 10 days later. He was 27.
"From the beginning it was about getting to the bottom of what happened that day and providing justice for the Flannigan family," Sorich said.
Outside the courtroom, Ryan's parents, Tim and Debbie Flannigan, and sisters, Courtney and Carly, hugged friends, family members and their attorneys.
Platt did not attend Friday's proceedings. His attorney Scott Barber said Platt acted in self-defense and in defense of his friend, a double amputee.
Calling on jurors to hold Platt responsible for his conduct, Sorich asked them to award Flannigan's family $20 million in damages, including $274,650 in medical expenses.
"For three years, 10 months and 14 days, Michael Platt has attempted to avoid responsibility for his conduct," Sorich said, arguing $20 million was "full and fair compensation" for the loss of Ryan, which he said the family will grieve for the rest of their lives.
Barber expressed sympathy for the Flannigan family but reminded jurors during his closing argument that "sympathy is not a part of this case."
Barber said Platt punched Flannigan because Platt feared for the safety of his friend, who got into a heated exchange with a female acquaintance of Flannigan's. The woman was part of group, which did not include Flannigan, that had congregated outside the bar near a car owned by Platt's friend. The friend, who uses prosthetic legs, was concerned about his car, according to testimony from Platt's criminal trial.
Witnesses at the criminal trial said Flannigan held his palms up as he attempted to mediate the exchange and calm down the participants. Platt, however, interpreted the gesture as aggressive and struck Flannigan, Barber said.
Tim Flannigan said the family will stop by Palatine's Ost Field to pay tribute where Ryan's memorial -- a park bench shaded by an American redwood -- overlooks the field where he played football as a boy and where he ran the track as an adult.
"Ryan was a great son and a great brother," said an emotional Tim. "He always looked out for his sisters and his mom. He was my right-hand man."