A former Forest Park couple has accepted a $29,000 settlement from the village in return from dropping a federal lawsuit claiming their prominent next-door neighbors conspired with the Forest Park Police Department to harass them and that the harassment eventually drove them out of their Elgin Avenue home.
The settlement was approved by the Forest Park Village Council following a closed session Monday night. The $29,000, which includes legal fees, will be paid through the village’s insurance.
Gladys Perez and her husband, Miguel Magallanes, who moved out of Forest Park in June, had sued Park District of Forest Park Commissioner Eric Entler and his wife Village Council Commissioner Rachell Entler, the village of Forest Park, parking enforcement officers Nick Treantafeles and Francis Lane, and police officers Roberto Salas, Nicholas Defors, and Young Lee, claiming false arrest, abuse of process, conspiracy to violate civil rights, infliction of emotional distress, and trespass to property for arresting Perez and issuing numerous tickets to vehicles owned by plaintiffs during the last two years.
The plaintiffs moved out of their approximately 900-square-foot home in the 1000 block of Elgin Avenue after stopping mortgage payments and allowing the home to be foreclosed upon.
According to terms of the settlement, the village and others named in the suit do not admit liability or wrongdoing.
“We have reached a settlement that addresses the best interests of all involved,” Village Administrator Tim Gillian said, noting continuing to trial would have cost the village more than $29,000 in legal fees even if the suit had been successful.
Magallanes is an independent tow truck driver and often had more than one vehicle parked in his driveway, which is just inches away from the Entlers’ home.
The lawsuit claims that the Entlers believed all the trucks parked in the driveway next to their home were interfering with their attempts to sell or rent out their home.
Lawyers for the defendants denied the allegations.
The complaint claims that Perez was arrested for aggravated battery on the morning of Feb. 5, 2015 after Treantafeles claimed that Perez spit on him after Treantafeles issued four tickets to vehicles parked in the defendant’s driveway. Their attorney, Nicolas Albukerk, claims that Perez was arrested and placed in a Forest Park jail cell. After processing and questioning, he was released after about 2½ hours at the police station and issued a ticket for disorderly conduct. Albukerk claims that Perez was arrested because Treantafeles was angry that Perez was taking video of him on her smartphone as he was issuing tickets.
According to terms of the settlement, the police department will dismiss all parking tickets issued during the disputed period, which were mostly for the prohibited parking of a commercial vehicle in a residential area. Forest Park municipal ordinances prohibit the parking of more than one commercial vehicle on any lot in a residential district.
The agreement includes a confidentiality clause limiting comments by Perez and Magallanes. Under the clause, for which the village will pay an additional $100, Perez and Magallanes agree to keep the terms of the agreement confidential other than to state the matter has been resolved.
Entler abstained from the vote, which was approved 3-0. Commissioner Dan Novak was absent.