A grieving suburban mom whose home was raided by the DEA just days after her 8-year-old daughter died of cancer has filed a second lawsuit against her former Chicago cop father-in-law, who she says helped her grow marijuana to medicate her dying child, then maliciously ratted her out.
Jennifer Scherr alleges Officer Curtis Scherr intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her when he went to a judge and got a search warrant for marijuana plants she says they grew together in her basement.
Scherr, 34, filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court last week, after a federal appeals court ruled she had no federal case.
In doing so, she appeared to be following the advice of U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner, who tossed out her federal case earlier this month but said Curtis Scherr’s alleged behavior was “atrocious” and suggested Jennifer Scherr might have a more “plausible claim” in state court.
The bitter family feud began after Jennifer Scherr’s daughter, Liza, died in the summer of 2012, according to the lawsuit.
Curtis Scherr had allegedly advised his daughter-in-law how to grow the plants in her Evergreen Park home without getting caught, and even allegedly stopped by from time to time to “check on the crop,” which they hoped to use to ease Liza’s pain in her final months.
But after a series of ugly arguments around Liza’s funeral which culminated in him unsuccessfully trying to steal the little girl’s ashes, the lawsuit alleges, he became enraged and went with another Chicago cop to Cook County Judge Nick Ford and got a search warrant for Jennifer Scherr’s home.
By the time the DEA raided — just nine days after Liza’s death — Jennifer Scherr had thrown out the marijuana plants, the lawsuit states.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges Curtis Scherr “was well aware of the reason for the plants’ existence and well aware that Jennie would not have maintained the plants after Liza’s passing” but that he arranged the raid because he wanted to use “his police authority … to scare, intimidate, frighten, upset, and retaliate against Jennie for the decisions Jennie had made regarding her terminally ill and ultimately deceased daughter.”
When the raid failed, Curtis Scherr was so angry he called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and tried to have his daughter-in-law investigated for alleged child abuse or neglect, the suit states.
Curtis Scherr’s attorney, Jim Sotos, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. But he previously told the Sun-Times that the federal court’s prior ruling showed: “This whole case was a very sad and tragic family matter that should never have been in court.”
Sotos said at the time that there was “a whole other side to the story,” but refused to share it or to discuss any of the allegations in the original lawsuit.
Curtis Scherr, 64, had been on extended disability leave since 2005 and finally retired from the Chicago Police Department with a full pension last year.
Jennifer Scherr’s lawyer, John Billhorn, said he’s hopeful the state “emotional distress” claim will succeed where the federal civil rights case did not, because Illinois judges are free to consider the officer’s motivation for seeking the search warrant — an area that was off limits in federal court.