Parents of Woman Who Fell Down Stairwell Sue Hotels

The parents of a 23-year-old woman who died after falling four stories at the Palmer House Hilton have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hotel and the promoters of a Halloween party the woman was attending, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Megan Duskey was attending the hotel’s Haunted Hotel Ball on October 30, 2010 when she fell to her death while trying to slide down a stairwell railing. Her parents’ suit contends that the hotel and the event promoters failed in their duty to warn Duskey of the dangerous condition of the stairwell.

Duskey, who was a Chicago school teacher, was at the party with a group of friends. The group had only been at the party for a half an hour when Duskey playfully attempted to slide down the banister rail of a staircase. Duskey slipped and fell to her death.

Now Duskey’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that the hotel and the even promoters, Surreal Chicago and Adrenaline Y2K, failed to warn Duskey about the dangerous condition of the stairwell.

Under Illinois premises liability law, the owner of real property must show “reasonable care under the circumstances” toward anyone who’s legally on their property. Reasonable care, however, does not require the owner to warn or protect guests from hazardous conditions of which the guest should’ve been aware.

Illinois has adopted a modified comparative negligence standard for recovery. Under Illinois law, if the injured party was at least 50% at fault for the incident, he or she cannot collect damages. On the other hand, if the injured party is able to collect damages, his or her award will be reduced in proportion to the degree the injured party was at fault.

The Palmer House Hilton and the promoters here will likely argue that Megan Duskey was over 50% at fault for the incident and should therefore be barred from recovery. They’ll likely argue that a reasonable person should be aware that sliding down a fourth-story banister is extremely dangerous and that Duskey was negligent in doing so. Therefore, it’s unlikely that Duskey’s parents will recover under a premises liability line of argument.

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