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$50M Lawsuit Against Crowne Plaza Hotel Alleges They Could Have Prevented Death of Teen Who Died In Walk-In Freezer

Over a year after Kenneka Jenkins’ body was discovered in a walk-in freezer, her mother is filing a $50 million lawsuit on behalf of the family against the Rosemont, Illinois, hotel that she believes is responsible.

Jenkins was at a party on the ninth floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel on September 9, 2017, and the next day she was pronounced dead of accidental hypothermia.

Kenneka Jenkins

(Facebook/Kenneka Jenkins)

The victim’s mother, Tereasa Martin, says in her complaint that her daughter was in a “completely coherent” state when she went to the bash at around 1:13 a.m, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Dec. 14 report. Just over an hour later at 2:30 a.m., Jenkins and her friends had left the party when the 19-year-old realized she left her phone in the hotel room. Jenkin’s pals went back to search for the device, but when they returned she was nowhere to be found. The friends contacted Martin at around 4 a.m. to say they lost track of the teenager at the hotel. The mother subsequently reached out to the hotel desk, when security said they would look over the surveillance footage. After the hotel did not get back to Martin, she contacted police, and Jenkins was officially reported missing at 12:36 p.m. the next afternoon.

Once police arrived, the lawsuit states, that’s when the surveillance footage initially got reviewed. The suit alleges that neither hotel staff nor security had given the videos a look the previous morning. If they had, the filing claims, “they would have been able to locate her which would have prevented her death.”

The footage shows Jenkins stumbling around an unused kitchen that the general public was able to get to. Documents state that the sticker on the door that had directions on how to unlock the freezer was faded. On Sept. 10 at 12:24 a.m, hotel staff and management who searched the hotel found Jenkins’ body. It was discovered 21 hours after surveillance cameras captured video of her walking toward the freezer.

Among the allegations in the suit, it states the hotel failed to secure a dangerous area or have competent staff on hand. It’s blaming the hotel, F&F Realty, Capital Security and Investigations and Murray Bros. Caddyshack, an eatery that rented the kitchen at the hotel, with counts of negligence and premises liability.

Additionally, the complaint says hotel and security staff ignored several warnings that there were dozens of people in the hotel room where Jenkins was — far exceeding the four-person occupancy. The smoke detector was also said to have been disabled and reports of an “intoxicant” emanating from the room were also blown off.

The complaint says Jenkins was “seriously, painfully and permanently hurt and injured as her body shut down and she froze to death” because of the neglectful staff.

Jenkins’ estate is seeking compensation for damages that include “conscious, physical pain and suffering,” severe emotional injuries, mortification and humiliation, loss of wages, funeral expense and death, among others.

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