Premises Liability Lawsuit Over Defective Railing Results in $2.7M Settlement

A $2.7 million wrongful death settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who fell to his death as a result of a defective railing at an apartment complex failed. 

The premise liability lawsuit was filed against Kenard Management Corporation by the family of a Michael Doyle, 26, who fell off of the third floor deck of a Chicago apartment building in the early morning hours following New Year’s Eve on January 1, 2007.

The settlement was approved last month by Judge James N. O’Hara in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

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According to the complaint, Doyle was getting up from sitting on the stairs to go to a table when he tripped and fell head first through the metal railings, falling three stories to the ground below. He was pronounced dead at Illinois Masonic Hospital.

The family alleged that six months before the accident, the building management company, Kenard Management Corporation (KMC), was warned by its insurance carrier that the railing’s gap of two feet by eight feet was dangerous and needed to be enclosed with a wire mesh. Documents obtained during the lawsuit’s discovery process found that KMC had collected bids on the project, but had not acted on them, and plaintiff experts claimed that the screen would have prevented the fall.

Following the accident, the city found serious code violations on the building’s porches, including rotted columns and inadequate bolts attaching the porches to the building. The city banned tenants from using the porches until repairs were made. However, city inspectors noted that those factors did not contribute to Doyle’s death. It did not appear that anything gave way or failed in allowing Doyle to fall through the railing gaps.

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