Family of Teen Killed in Fall Sues Ravenswood Building

The family of a 16-year-old boy who died after falling from the second floor of the former Ravenswood Hospital has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the building’s owners, the Chicago Tribune reports.

On July 2, Jose Morales and two other boys reportedly climbed a fire escape and entered the dilapidated building. According to the lawsuit, Morales fell through a hole in the second floor and later died from his injuries. Now, his family is suing the building’s owner, Lycee Francais de Chicago, claiming that it should’ve warned others about the hole in the floor.

According to authorities, after the fall, Morales’ 17-year-old companions carried the teenager out of the building before calling 911. Morales was then taken to Advocate Illinois Medical Center for treatment, but there died soon after, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The family’s lawsuit names both Lycee Francaise and American Demolition Corporation as defendants. Generally, a wrongful death suit is filed by the family of a person who died as the result of another person or entity’s negligence. Here, Morales’ family is claiming that the building’s owner had a duty to warn others about the dangerous conditions in the abandoned building.

Under Illinois’ Premises Liability Act, the owner of real property must show “reasonable care under the circumstances.” This can involve complying with safety standards, inspecting the property, and making needed repairs.

The Premises Liability Act protects those who enter legally. However, Morales and his 17-year-old companions were illegally trespassing on the property. Despite the fact that the teens were trespassing, Morales’ family argue that the owner should be liable under the attractive nuisance doctrine.

The doctrine holds a landowner liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury was caused by an object or condition that’s likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by it. Illinois courts don’t strictly apply the doctrine. Instead, they often balance the foreseeability of injury to children with the cost of making the needed repairs.

The defendants will likely argue that it was not foreseeable that minors would break into the second floor of the building, and that repairing the building or hiring a security guard would’ve been prohibitively expensive. Morales family’ would probably counter that the injury was foreseeable, given teenagers’ propensity to explore abandoned buildings.

The lawsuit brought by Jose Morales’ family is seeking unspecified damages for the loss of “society, affection, care, attention, comfort, guidance, protection, and companionship.”

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