McDermott Team to Receive Award for “Excellence in Pro Bono Service”


Chicago (May 26, 2016) – Yesterday, the US District Court of the Northern District of Illinois honored McDermott co-chair Jeff Stone, partners Krista Vink Venegas and Michael W. Weaver, as well as associates Shaun B. Hawkinson, Hersh Mehta, Krista Pikus, and Kaitlin P. Sheehan for their “Excellence in Pro Bono Service.”

The award acknowledges this team’s superior efforts in representing four individual inmates in their Section 1983 claims against the Cook County Department of Corrections. The inmates’ Section 1983 claims were filed in response to the deplorable conditions of confinement that they were subjected to, while imprisoned at Cook County Jail.

In an attempt to block these inmates from pursuing their Section 1983 claims, counsel for Cook County alleged that the inmates had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The McDermott team, successfully challenged this defense, and forced Cook County to allow each case to proceed on the merits.

While originally appointed by Judge Virginia Mary Kendall only to represent the inmates against the administrative remedies defense, the McDermott team continued their representation of the inmates, on a pro bono basis, in pursuit of the merits of their Section 1983 claims and was able to successfully obtain a settlement on behalf of each inmate.