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Court rules against family in wrongful death lawsuit

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ANN MARIE AMES
September 24, 2010

— A federal judge this week ruled in favor of the city of Edgerton and the Edgerton Police Department and dismissed a $2.9 million wrongful death suit filed in 2009 by the family of Jenni Vordermann.

Edgerton police found Vordermann, 24, and her husband, Shaun, 25, dead in their bedroom at 39 Mildred Ave., Edgerton, the morning of Aug. 18, 2008.


The suit, filed by Jenni’s parents, claims that officers increased the danger that Shaun posed to Jenni and were negligent in their duties. The claim also states that the department did not adequately train officers to deal with domestic violence and lacked policies regarding emergency detentions.


The suit also named a Rock County Crisis Intervention worker who evaluated Shaun during the early morning of Aug. 17. Rock County was dismissed from the case without prejudice earlier this year, Corporation Counsel Jeff Kuglitsch said.


Judge Wiliam Conley on Wednesday granted the city of Edgerton’s motion for summary judgment, according to online court documents. The motion, filed in June, states the plaintiffs did not show evidence supporting elements of the claim, said attorney Meg Vergeront, attorney for the city of Edgerton.


“Plaintiffs’ claims amount to nothing more than after-the-fact criticism based in large part on speculation,” the defendants’ motion states. “Their claims have no basis in law or fact.”


Conley agreed. The officers did not increase the danger to Jenni, and domestic abuse training is not required for police officers by the state of Wisconsin, the order states.


The plaintiffs “certainly made a case” for the effectiveness of domestic violence training but failed to prove the Edgerton Police Department’s training doesn’t meet state laws, Conley wrote.


In the weeks leading up to the murder-suicide, Edgerton police had been called to the Vordermann home several times, according to police documents acquired by The Gazette.


Jenni called police late the night of Aug. 16; she said she was scared to go home, police documents state. Shaun had tried contacting her by phone 178 times that day, his family later learned through his phone records.


Just after midnight, police took Shaun to Rock County Crisis Intervention for a mental health evaluation, the documents state. He was released to a family member early the morning of Aug. 17 and returned home later that morning.


According to Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach, Shaun shot his wife and himself sometime after 10 p.m. that night.



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