Chicago, IL – December 14, 2023
In a poignant resolution to a heart-wrenching case, the family of Kenneka Jenkins, the teenager who tragically froze to death in a hotel freezer, has agreed to a $10 million legal settlement. Court records, made public on Tuesday, revealed that the settlement will be distributed among the family members, with Kenneka Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, set to receive approximately $3.7 million, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
In September 2017, the tragic event unfolded as Jenkins was discovered deceased in the walk-in freezer of the “Crowne Plaza Hotel in suburban Rosemont,” just a day after participating in a party at the venue. The Cook County medical examiner’s office concluded that her demise resulted from hypothermia, deeming it an accidental occurrence. The examination underscored the presence of “alcohol intoxication and the utilization of a drug for managing epilepsy and migraines” as notable contributing factors to her death.
As part of the settlement, other family members will receive sums of “$1.2 million and $1.5 million.” Additionally, $3.5 million will be allocated to cover attorney fees, while $6,000 will go towards covering the costs of Jenkins’ funeral.
In December 2018, Tereasa Martin took legal action by filing a lawsuit, accusing the hotel, a security company, and a hotel restaurant that leased the freezer of negligence. The lawsuit contended that these entities neglected to properly secure the freezer and failed to conduct a thorough search after Jenkins went missing. Originally seeking over $50 million in damages, the lawsuit highlighted crucial lapses in the hotel’s response to the incident.
According to the lawsuit, friends of Jenkins, who attended the party with her, notified Martin around 4 a.m. that Kenneka was missing. Martin promptly contacted the hotel, and despite assurances that surveillance footage would be reviewed, Jenkins’ body remained undiscovered for more than 21 hours after she was believed to have entered the freezer. The lawsuit contended that had the hotel appropriately monitored security cameras, Jenkins could have been saved.
This settlement brings a measure of closure to a deeply tragic event and underscores the importance of accountability in ensuring the safety and well-being of hotel guests. The family’s pursuit of justice has culminated in a significant settlement, emphasizing the need for enhanced security measures and protocols in the hospitality industry.