The parents of a woman who died after falling from a staircase at a 2010 Halloween party have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago hotel and event companies that hosted the party. The suit alleges negligence against the party’s hosts for providing unlimited alcohol to the attendees, and failing to provide adequate security to keep them safe. The lawsuit draws on principles of premises liability and the Dram Shop law, but it may also have to contend with issues of comparative fault.
On October 30, 2010, 23 year-old Megan Duskey and friends went to a party at the Palmer House Hilton hotel in Chicago. Around two thousand guests were expected at the party, which was scheduled to go until 2:00 a.m. According to one of Duskey’s friends, they had been at the party for about thirty minutes when she stepped away for a moment. When the friend returned, her other friends told her that Duskey had fallen. Duskey had apparently tried to slide down a banister rail in a stairwell. She fell four stories and died instantly of head trauma. This occurred at about 10:30 p.m. The coroner’s office later ruled her death an accident.
Duskey’s parents, Deborah and James Duskey, filed a lawsuit on July 24, 2012 in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, naming the Palmer House Hilton and its parent, Hilton Worldwide, as defendants, along with the event companies, Surreal Chicago and Adrenaline Y2K. The party’s hosts, according to the lawsuit, allowed ticket holders at the party to “consume unlimited amounts of alcoholic beverages,” but did not have security to protect partygoers. The lawsuit alleges ten total counts and seeks over $500,000 in damages from the defendants.
The suit seems to rely in part on the legal theory of premises liability, in which the owner or manager of real property has a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises for guests, and to warn guests of known hazards. It can also place a duty on an owner or manager to provide security to protect guests from known dangers. A claim for premises liability requires proof that the defendant had actual control of or responsibility over the property when the accident occurred. One of the event companies has denied liability, claiming that the accident occurred in the hotel lobby, not at the actual party.
The lawsuit also involves the Dram Shop law, which holds a person or company liable for damages caused by an intoxicated person, if the person or company knew that the person was intoxicated and served them alcohol anyway. According to investigators, alcohol was not a factor in Duskey’s death.
The plaintiffs may also encounter the comparative fault law, which applies if an injured person’s negligence contributed to the accident. If a judge or jury concludes that an injured person’s (or decedent’s) negligence accounted for a percentage of the total fault in an accident, it may reduce the damage award by that percentage.
The attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse represent the interests of Indiana accident victims and their families, helping them to obtain compensation for their damages. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers, contact us today online, or by calling our legal team at (888) 532-7766.
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Photo credit: ‘Palmer hilton’ by kkmd [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikipedia.