Will County hoping to recover some of lawsuit settlement paid to Riley Fox’s parents
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org October 19, 2012 6:32PM
Updated: November 22, 2012 6:31AM
JOLIET — The Will County Board is trying to recoup some of the money it paid out after it lost a civil suit filed by Kevin and Melissa Fox after Kevin Fox was wrongfully accused of murdering his daughter, Riley.
The county had insurance to protect itself from such lawsuits, but one of the insurers argued that the definition of “cost” did not include payments for attorneys fees, said assistant state’s attorney Mary Tatroe, who is the civil division chief for the Will County state’s attorney’s office.
The county disagreed and sued the insurer in federal court. A federal judge in Chicago ruled in the county’s favor during the summer, Tatroe said. But the insurance company could have appealed the $1.78 million judgment.
In an attempt to resolve the issue once and for all, the county board voted Thursday to give the state’s attorney’s office permission to settle the case for some portion of the $1.78 million.
In late 2010, the county paid $1.86 million of the $8 million judgment, finance director Paul Rafac said. The rest was covered by two other liability insurance providers.
Riley Fox disappeared from her Wilmington home while her father and brother slept in the early morning of June 6, 2004. Her body was found that day in nearby Forked Creek. She had been sexually assaulted and drowned.
Five months later, sheriff’s police arrested Kevin Fox on murder charges after a 14-hour interrogation. He spent eight months in jail before being released when DNA found on Riley and the duct tape used to bind her did not match his. The DNA later implicated Scott W. Eby, who later admitted his guilt and is serving life in prison for the crime.
Fox and his wife, Melissa, sued Will County and five detectives accusing them of framing him for the crime.
In December 2007, a federal jury ruled in the Foxes favor and awarded the couple $15.5 million in damages, but that amount was reduced to $12.9 million when post-trial motions were decided. In April 2010, an appeals court judge said the original jury had overcompensated the Foxes and he reduced the award to $8 million.