On May 14, 2022, Chicago police reported the deaths of three women at a Rogers Park senior living facility.
The women, aged 67, 72 and 76, were residents at the James Sneider Apartments, 7450 N. Rogers Ave. in Chicago. The elderly women were found unresponsive between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. in their respective units.
According to NBC Chicago, tenants had begun complaining of the “oppressive” heat four days earlier.
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) stated that although her office didn’t begin receiving complaints until Thursday, residents claimed they had reported the high temperatures to the building management on Tuesday.
A 75-year-old resident of the facility told NBC Chicago, “I was just hot, and I was scared. I wasn’t mad because, really, I was thinking that the manager was doing everything that she could do.”
A tweet from the Chicago Fire Department at 9:56 p.m. on May 14 stated, “The temperature in the building at 7450 N. Rogers has decreased. CFD is ventilating & blowing cool air inside to help facilitate a cooling down process.”
Hadden, who plans to use this incident to change Chicago’s laws, told the media, “If we can’t trust these companies to use their common sense, to use their logic and to uphold their responsibility to their tenants, then we’ll come up with some new legislation to make them do so.”
Older adults are especially susceptible to extreme hot and cold temperatures because they are less effective at regulating their body temperatures. Many seniors have medical conditions or take particular medications that increase their risk of suffering from the effects of extreme temperatures.
Tragedies such as these are due to the negligence or carelessness of corporations who put convenience and profits over people. These deaths were preventable and would not have happened if the building had been kept at a safe temperature and if management had reacted appropriately to tenant complaints.
Levin & Perconti has been retained by the family of Gwendolyn Osborne alongside nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and the Chicago-based law firm of Pintas & Mullins.
Attorneys for the family issued the following statement on May 24th, 2022.
“Gwendolyn and her family entrusted her well-being and her safety to the James Sneider Apartments – and they failed in the most horrific way possible. Her death was tragic and it was preventable. This senior living residence must be held accountable for the death of Gwendolyn and for putting profit before the health of their residents. We will find out how this happened and hold every entity and person involved responsible.”
Born in Detroit, Gwendolyn Osborne earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and moved to Chicago to pursue a master’s degree from Northwestern University in the 1970’s. She is most known for founding the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. She served as public information director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and worked with the office of public affairs at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She also became director of public affairs for Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1995. Gwendolyn’s impact was far-reaching. She was a regular traveler and was known to have a large network of personal friendships and professional relationships. She is survived by her only son, Ken Rye, as well as a grandson, a niece, and her cousins.
Her son released the following statement:
“My mom was a vibrant soul who touched so many people across generations and geographies. She was taken away from us prematurely. Over and over, seniors are needlessly dying in the heat. There has got to be a better way to manage a housing system that is responsible for so many lives.”
This story is still developing.
If you or someone you know has suffered heat-related injuries because of a building owner’s or management company’s negligence, there are options for holding them accountable. Levin & Perconti is a pioneer in nursing home litigation, advocating for seniors and other vulnerable populations for more than 30 years. Contact us today at 312-332-2872 for a free and confidential consultation.