It has been more than a year since 19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in a hotel freezer in Rosemont, Illinois, and last Tuesday, her mother filed a lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, claims in the suit that the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the hotel’s security staff, and a restaurant at the hotel are responsible in her daughter’s death.
Jenkins was attending a party at the hotel last September when she went missing. After an hours-long search, the teen’s body was found in a freezer. The Rosemont police department ultimately closed the investigation into her death, which was deemed to be accidental.
Surveillance footage from the hotel showed Jenkins stumbling around the facility before going into an “abandoned” kitchen and turning the corner toward the walk-in freezer where she ultimately died. The kitchen, although unused, was still accessible to the public the lawsuit noted.
The suit accuses the hotel of not properly monitoring the security cameras and not reviewing it soon enough even after they aware that Jenkins had gone missing, which could have prevented her death, the Sun-Times notes.
The lawsuit also notes that Jenkins passed by several hotel personnel who should have stopped her from wandering around the hotel and going into the kitchen when she “was visibly disoriented and in dire need of assistance.”
The report notes:
The lawsuit alleges that the hotel failed to secure a dangerous area or have competent staff, with counts of negligence and premises liability against the hotel, F&F Realty, Capital Security and Investigations and Murray Bros. Caddyshack, a restaurant that leased the kitchen at the hotel.
The lawsuit also blames the hotel and its security for not stopping the party, where several people were crammed into the room that was only meant for four people, where the smoke detector had been disabled and where there was a strong odor of an “intoxicant.”
The lawsuit adds that Jenkins was “seriously, painfully and permanently hurt and injured as her body shut down and she froze to death.”
Jenkins and her estate, the lawsuit claims, suffered several damages including “conscious, physical pain and suffering.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, a spokesperson for the hotel vowed to fight the lawsuit.
“The death of Kenneka Jenkins was a tragedy, but the proximate cause of her death were the unsavory individuals who used a stolen credit card to book a room and host an illegal party which Ms. Jenkins attended,” the spokesperson said.
“Those criminals escaped the hotel before police arrived and have never truly been held accountable. This lawsuit has no merit and we will vigorously contest it.”