CHICAGO (AP) — The mother of a 19-year-old Chicago woman who was found dead in 2017 in a freezer at a suburban hotel where she had attended a party has reached a settlement in her lawsuit against the hotel and others.
A settlement was reached in August, Cook County court records show, but it has not been entered on the court docket because attorneys for Kenneka Jenkins’ mother have asked that the terms be sealed from the public, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A judge denied that request Tuesday but asked the mother’s attorney to resubmit the request. A status hearing is scheduled for next week in the case, which had been set for a trial starting Oct. 16, court records show.
Attorneys for Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, argued that the family’s safety and privacy trumped any reason to require that the records be publicly filed.
“The widespread publicity of this case, including uncontrolled speculation and social media commentary has resulted in various threats made against various individuals in the case,” including Martin, witnesses and the defendants, an attorney for Martin wrote in an unopposed motion to seal the settlement’s terms.
The lawsuit was filed in December 2018 against Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, its security company and a restaurant that rented the walk-in freezer in which Jenkins was found dead. It alleged the defendants were negligent because they didn’t secure the freezer or conduct a proper search following Jenkins’ disappearance. The suit initially sought more than $50 million in damages.
Jenkins was found dead inside the freezer on Sept. 10, 2017, nearly 24 hours after she disappeared from a ninth-floor room at the Crowne Plaza where she had attended a party with as many as 30 other people.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office found that she died from hypothermia and ruled her death an accident. 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 days later show Jenkins wandering alone through a kitchen area near the freezer not long after she disappeared.