Family of Chicago Woman Who Died in Hotel Freezer Agrees to $10 Million Settlement

December 15, 2023

CHICAGO (AP) __ The family of a Chicago woman who froze to death after she became locked in a hotel freezer has agreed to a $10 million legal settlement.

Kenneka Jenkins` mother, Tereasa Martin, will receive about $3.7 million, according to court records made public Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported. Other family members will receive $1.2 million and $1.5 million. Another $3.5 million will cover attorney fees, with $6,000 covering the cost of Jenkins` funeral.

Jenkins was found dead in the walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in suburban Rosemont in September 2017, a day after she attended a party there. The Cook County medical examiner`s office determined that she died of hypothermia and that her death was accidental.

Alcohol intoxication and the use of a drug for treating epilepsy and migraines were “significant contributing factors” in her death, the office said. Surveillance videos released by police showed Jenkins wandering alone through a kitchen area near the freezer at around 3:30 a.m. on the day she disappeared.

Martin filed a lawsuit in December 2018 alleging that the hotel, a security company and a restaurant at the hotel that rented the freezer were negligent because they didn’t secure the freezer or conduct a proper search following Jenkins’ disappearance. The lawsuit initially sought more than $50 million in damages.

According to the lawsuit, friends that Jenkins had attended the party with alerted Martin at around 4 a.m. that she was missing. Martin contacted the hotel and was told it would review surveillance footage, according to the lawsuit.

But Jenkins` body wasn`t discovered for more than 21 hours after she was believed to have entered the freezer. Surveillance footage wasn`t reviewed until police arrived at the hotel, according to the lawsuit. Had the hotel properly monitored the security cameras, Jenkins would still be alive, the lawsuit argued.

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