The court record of a man’s 22-year-old burglary case was corrected just three months ago to reflect the fact that he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, not a felony.
But that may have been too late.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday against the Cook County circuit court’s clerk’s office, the man claims the inaccurate court record cost him a job and his reputation.
William Vail of Oak Lawn was 19 years old when he was charged with felony burglary in July 1992, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
In November 1992, Vail was sentenced to community service and $1,250 in restitution fees, court records show. That was after he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of theft, a misdemeanor.
But his record still showed the felony charge in October 2014, when Vail was working as an engineer at Anchor Mechanical, the suit said. The company had just secured a contract to do work at Stroger Hospital.
The hospital ran criminal background checks with Illinois State Police on Anchor employees and came across the erroneously recorded felony, the suit said.
Vail was not allowed to work on the Stroger project, later learning it was because of the background check, the suit claims.
On Dec. 24, 2014, the Cook County Circuit Court asked the clerk’s office to correct the record after Vail filed a motion to remove the felony conviction, according to court records and the suit.
Vail claims the clerk’s office failed to keep its records accurate, costing him promotions and raises at work, the suit said. He also claims his marriage and reputation were damaged.
Among its claims, the three-count suit accuses the clerk’s office of being negligent and violating the Uniform Conviction Information Act.
He is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
The clerk’s office said Friday that it has forwarded the suit to its attorneys, but did not comment further.