A settlement has been reached in the 2017 wrongful death lawsuit of Kenneka Jenkins, the girl who was found inside of a walk-in freezer of a Chicago hotel.
According to court records, the agreement was reached back in August, but it wasn’t filed because the lawyers of Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, argued that the terms of the deal should be hidden from the public to protect the family’s safety and privacy, Chicago Tribune reported. A judge denied the request on Tuesday (Oct. 3) but asked them to resubmit. A status hearing was scheduled for next week in the case. The trial has been set to start on Monday, Oct. 16.
On Sept. 10, 2017, 19-year-old Jenkins was found dead at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont after she went for a private party that was held in one of the rooms on Sept. 8. However, the surveillance video footage that went viral caused public outrage — many were worried that foul play was involved and that police botched the case.
“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,” Police Chief Donald Stephens III said in a statement then, according to Chicago Tribune. “While there were many theories, rumors and much speculation floating around social media regarding the death of Ms. Jenkins, none were supported with facts. While all leads and theories were investigated by our department, what we have reported throughout the investigation and again, today, are facts.”
A medical examiner’s office ruled Jenkins’ death an accident, stating that she died from hypothermia after being in the cold for so long. They also added that the alcohol and topiramate (epilepsy/migraine medication) in her system played a role. A month later, law enforcement released more evidence, including audio recordings, pictures of Jenkins’ body in the freezer, and a timeline of her final hours.
Following Jenkins’ death, her mother filed a lawsuit in December of 2018 against the hotel, its security company, and the restaurant that leased the space where the body was found for $50 million in damages. The suit stated that the staff were negligent because they failed to secure the walk-in freezer and they also failed to do a proper search when Jenkins came up missing. It also noted that the staff didn’t properly monitor security cameras that would have showed them where Jenkins was — and if they did, her death could have been prevented.
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