For the family of Ryan Flannigan, a 27-year-old Palatine resident who was killed after a fatal punch to his left temple outside a local bar in 2014, criminal punishment for the deadly “one punch” attack may never come to fruition — but civil justice has finally prevailed.
In June 2018, Cavanagh Law Group attorneys Michael Sorich and Olwen Jaffe successfully obtained a $1.089 million jury verdict for the Flannigan family, who had long-sought some form of legal accountability for Michael Platt — a convicted felon who “sucker punched” Flannigan. He was charged with first degree murder, but was found not guilty during his criminal trial in 2015.
Devastated but not without hope, the Flannigan family sought justice through the civil courts by way of a wrongful death lawsuit with the assistance of Cavanagh Law Group. Though Platt’s lawyers argued the fatal blow was delivered in “self-defense,” Sorich successfully argued against the defense’s position, resulting in a verdict of over $1 million for the grieving Flannigan family.
"From the beginning it was about getting to the bottom of what happened that day and providing justice for the Flannigan family," Sorich said. "For three years, 10 months and 14 days, Michael Platt has attempted to avoid responsibility for his conduct."
“[The family] just wanted answers for their son’s death, and I think the jury proved that (defendant) Michael Platt was ultimately responsible and he was held accountable for his conduct,” he told the Tribune.
The incident in question occurred July 18, 2014 outside Pop’s Bar and Grille in suburban Palatine, Illinois.
According to witnesses, while outside the bar, an argument ensued between a female friend of Flanningan’s and a male friend of Platt’s. Flannigan attempted to intervene and calm the situation by stepping between the participants and holding his hands up with his palms out. In response, he was “sucker punched” by Platt, causing Flannigan to fall and fatally strike his head on the sidewalk.
Attorneys for Platt unsuccessfully argued Platt believed his friend was in danger because of Flannigan’s actions, resulting in Platt’s deadly attack on Flannigan. Police called the assault “unprovoked.”
However, Cavanagh Law Group’s experience and unrelenting efforts in the courtroom ensured the Flannigan family would not have to endure another painful trial conclusion — this time they would receive justice, both legally and financially.
And, while the outcome was successful, for both Cavanagh Law Group and Flannigan’s family, "It was never about the money."
“This is a case about being held accountable for one’s actions,” Sorich told jurors in his closing argument.
"It was always about what should have been done the first time around," added Ryan's father, Tim Flannigan.
The Hon. Judge Ann Collins-Dole of the Cook County Circuit Court presided in the case of Flannigan v. Platt, Case No. 18-L-610.