Nanci Koschman  |  Sun-Times file photo

Nanci Koschman | Sun-Times file photo

City, county: Dismiss Koschman mom’s suit

Published June 3, 2014

Staff Reporters

Nanci Koschman waited too long to sue Chicago police officers and Cook County prosecutors for failing to charge a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley with killing her son David Koschman, according to lawyers trying to get her civil-rights lawsuit thrown out.

The Mount Prospect widow filed suit in federal court March 24, nearly 10 years after Daley nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko punched her son in the face. According to the suit, police and prosecutors engaged in a 10-year coverup by falsely portraying her son as the aggressor in the April 25, 2004, confrontation with Vanecko — a claim that unraveled when the Daley nephew pleaded guilty early this year to involuntary manslaughter, and a special prosecutor released a report concluding that police fabricated and lost case reports.

The mother could have sued when news reports revealed that Vanecko was involved in the confrontation with her 21-year-old son, according to Vincent J. Connelly, a private attorney hired by City Hall who argues in a court filing Tuesday that the city and 21 police officers should be dismissed from the lawsuit.

Nanci Koschman’s “failure to do so is the cause of her injuries, not the purported cover-up,” Connelly wrote, saying the statute of limitations to file a complaint has long expired. She “does nothing more than give the label ‘conspiracy’ to . . . vague general allegations that all of the defendants conspired with one another, and in doing so fails to inform the city defendants what it is that they allegedly did wrong.”

Koschman’s attorneys, Locke Bowman and G. Flint Taylor, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

All parties in the case are set to appear Monday before U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez also is arguing that Koschman waited too long to sue her, her chief of staff Dan Kirk and her predecessor and former boss Richard Devine, who was state’s attorney when Vanecko punched Koschman. Her attorneys say Illinois law also bars prosecutors from being sued over a decision not to charge someone with a crime.

A similar argument is being made by attorneys for former Assistant State’s Attorney Darren O’Brien, the prosecutor who declined to charge Vanecko in May 2004 after Koschman took her son off life support.

“Despite solid information that evil forces engaged in unconstitutional clout driven misconduct . . . she did nothing for almost 10 years,” wrote Craig D. Tobin, O’Brien’s lawyer. “In the face of these allegations, prosecutor O’Brien, cloaked with absolute immunity, cannot be liable.”

Vanecko, who served 60 days in jail in Koschman’s death, argues in a motion filed two months ago that he, too, should be dropped from the civil case. In part, his lawyers argue that’s because the sit doesn’t make any allegation “that Vanecko conspired with the Chicago Police Department, Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the other named individual defendants to insulate himself from potential culpability.”