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Family of Kenneka Jenkins Reaches $10 Million Settlement Over Tragic Hotel Freezer Death

The family of Kenneka Jenkins, the 19-year-old woman who tragically lost her life in an Illinois hotel freezer in 2017, has reached a $10 million legal settlement.

Jenkins was discovered deceased inside the walk-in freezer of the Crowne Plaza Chicago-O’Hare Hotel in September 2017, a day after attending a party. Regrettably, her body went unnoticed for more than 21 hours, as reported by the Associated Press and the Sun-Times.

Upon reviewing the evidence, authorities determined no foul play was involved, attributing her death to an accident caused by hypothermia due to “ethanol and topiramate intoxication” and exposure to the cold in the walk-in freezer. Jenkins, who took medication for migraines and epilepsy, experienced disorientation as a result, according to NBC News.

Following the tragic incident, Tereasa Martin, Jenkins’ mother, filed a lawsuit against the hotel, the restaurant managing the space where Jenkins was found, and a security company, seeking over $50 million in damages.

The suit, filed in December 2018, alleged negligence on the part of the defendants for failing to conduct a proper search or secure the freezer after Jenkins went missing. The December 2018 lawsuit claimed the defendants were negligent by not conducting a valid search or securing the freezer after Jenkins went missing.

The lawsuit contended that if hotel staff had monitored security cameras, Jenkins’ life could have been “saved.” Now, five years later, the settlement agreement has been unveiled just as the lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial, with none of the defendants admitting to any wrongdoing, as reported by CNN.

Tereasa Martin is set to receive approximately $3.7 million, while other family members will be awarded $1.5 million and $1.2 million. The settlement also encompasses around $3.5 million for attorney fees and over $6,000 for the 19-year-old’s funeral expenses.

Paul joined the Manchester Evening News in 2004 and Tosbos in 2022. A senior reporter, he's experienced in crime and court reporting - and also holds the defense portfolio.


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