The family of Kenneka Jenkins who died of hypothermia inside a hotel walk-in freezer in 2017 has reached a settlement agreement with the hotel, its security company, and the hotel’s restaurant.
Jenkins was found dead inside a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont early on Sept. 10, 2017, after she went to the complex late on Sept. 8 for a private party in a room there. The circumstances surrounding her death generated controversy, with friends and family members questioning whether foul play had occurred — and whether police mishandled the case.
According to Cook County, a settlement was reached in August, 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 and 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.