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IL high court reinstates case in deadly Chicago nightclub stampede

Thu, 04 Apr 2013 12:14:57 CDT

The Illinois Supreme Court has reinstated the case against the owners a Chicago nightclub where 21 people were killed. But, the appeal isn't over yet. The question before the justices was whether the owners of the E2 nightclub ignored a city order not to use the second floor of their club. That's where, in January 2003, security used pepper spray to break up a fight. The resulting panic led to a stampede that killed 21 and injured 50. The club's owners have been found NOT guilty of involuntary manslaughter. But a jury did convict them of ignoring a court order to stay off the second floor until a building safety issue was resolved. They were sentenced to two years in prison. The owners argued the order was ambiguous -- that it wasn't clear whether they were prohibited from using the entire second floor or just a set of skyboxes near the ceiling. But the justices rejected that in a unanimous opinion. They found the order was clear -- and even if the owners more limited interpretation was correct, the justices say they ignored that, too -- using the skyboxes AND the second floor. Because a lower appeals court threw out the charges without addressing all of the owners' legal arguments, the Supreme Court sent the case back for more hearings.

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