Multiple news outlets reported last month that the unusual death of teenager Kenneka Jenkins at a Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois was ruled an accident. The Rosemont Police Department issued a statement her death was accidental and said there was “no evidence that indicated any other conclusion.” There was no sign of date-rape drugs in her toxicology reports, the office said. “Our detective reported no signs of foul play throughout the whole investigation… there is no evidence that Ms. Jenkins was forced to drink alcohol or consume any narcotics while at the hotel.”
Surveillance video from the hotel shows the teenager stumble into the kitchen area, before disappearing around a corner. The footage does not show her entering the freezer.
Right now it does not appear that that anyone from the party Ms. Jenkins attended nor will anyone from the hotel will face criminal charges. The question remains whether the hotel will face civil liability for Ms. Jenkins death. The short answer is absolutely. It is my understanding her family has retained legal counsel, and they are no doubt investigating this matter as we speak.
A civil suit against the hotel will most likely contain at least two (2) counts. One for negligence and one for premises liability. The premises liability count will allege that a defective condition on the property caused Ms. Jenkins death. The negligence count must show that the behavior of the hotel staff and/or security was not reasonable and thus caused her to end up in the freezer.
The difficulty for the plaintiff in this type of case comes with the difficulty of proving causation. The plaintiff will have to show, under both the premises and negligence counts, that the hotel’s actions (or inactions) proximately caused the death. Proximate cause is best described as whether it was foreseeable that this woman would end up in the freezer based on their negligent actions or defective condition on the property. Just because a plaintiff can show negligence or defective conditions, does not necessarily mean that these were the proximate cause. Plaintiffs must do their best at showing that whatever was done wrong, i.e. lack of proper locks, lack of security etc… could foreseeably lead to someone who has been drinking alcohol to wander into the kitchen and eventually the freezer. Without knowing more of the facts in this case it would be hard to predict the outcome. I will say that this will be the most contentious issue should this case lead to litigation.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago premises liability accident, or Chicago personal injury case, please call Chicago accident attorney, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076,