Defense Attorneys Try Death Case To Verdict Two Weeks After Case Assigned To Them

Estate of Kara Shernell Pearson, deceased minor, Deidra Pearson, minor v James McGee, Velma Barnett-McGee 99L-7727

  • Verdict: Deadlocked (case subsequently settled)
  • Judge: Patricia Banks (Law Division)
  • Pltf Atty: Robert F. Lisco of Robert F. Lisco & Associates for both Plaintiffs
  • Demand: withdrawn
  • Asked: $2,780,090 total
  • Deft Atty: Vincent P. Cook and J. Scott Gillman of Condon & Cook for both defts (Allstate)
  • Offer: $100,000 policy
  • Pltf Medl: Dr. Joseph Lawrence Cogan (Pathologist) for Kara. Dr. Richard L. Gamelli (Burns) for Deidra.

A fire occurred at Plaintiffs' residence, a second floor apartment at 5717 W. Iowa rented from the Defendants. Two of the Plaintiff’s children were home being watched by their 17-year-old sister, who discovered smoke coming from the bedroom where they were sleeping. The older sister rescued 18-month old Deidra, but did not see Kara and assumed she had already left. Kara, three years old, suffered fatal smoke inhalation and was declared DOA at the hospital; Deidra suffered burns over 10% of her body, mainly her back, with scarring ($15,000 medl. bills). Plaintiffs contended there were no working smoke detectors in the apartment.

Defendant landlords maintained that a working smoke detector was provided at the beginning of tenancy and again two months before the fire. Defense argued that if the smoke detector did not work, it was because Plaintiffs’ mother failed to install a working battery in the smoke detector as required by Chicago Municipal Code. Defense further denied proximate cause between lack of smoke detector and Plaintiffs' injuries. Defense counsel notes that Condon & Cook was assigned this case only 14 days before trial.

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