CHICAGO (January 9, 2022) – The families of three senior women who were found dead inside their sweltering hot Rogers Park apartment units will receive a $16 million settlement from the James Sneider Apartments. The cases were settled for all available insurance coverage and additional cash payments from the owners and operators of the James Sneider Apartments. The total payout will be divided equally between the families of the three women who tragically passed away in May of 2022.
On May 14, 2022, Delores McNeely, Gwendolyn Osborne, and Janice Reed were found unresponsive in their respective apartment units at the James Sneider Apartments in Rogers Park. The women died after several calls for help were ignored by building managers for several days, when temperatures were consistently over 90 degrees in Chicago. Autopsies showed all three women died from excessive environmental heat exposure. Attorneys for the three families were looking into why the building’s air conditioning was never turned on, despite the dangerous heatwave and calls for help.
Two lawsuits were filed against the apartment complex in June on behalf Ms. Osborne, who was represented by Steve Levin and Megan O’Connor of Levin & Perconti, and Ms. Reed, who was represented by attorneys Larry Rogers Jr. and Jonathan Thomas of Power Rogers. Ms. McNeely’s case was settled prior to filing. Her family was represented by attorneys Brian L. Salvi and Eirene N. Salvi of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.
In December 2022, Gateway Apartments Ltd. and Hispanic Housing Development Corp., which own and operate the James Sneider Apartments, agreed to pay a total settlement of $16 million to the McNeely, Osborne and Reed families.
“Gwendolyn Osborne was a vibrant, intelligent, and dynamic woman. She had so much more life to live. Her death is such a tragedy for her family and friends,” said the Osbourne family’s attorney, Steve Levin. “Gwendolyn’s family hopes this settlement sends a strong message to landlords that they must behave responsibly and if they don’t, they will be held accountable.”
“Delores’s apartment unit had reached temperatures of at least 103 degrees when she was found. There is no excuse for apartment owners or managers to ignore cries for help from their tenants, especially when their main clientele is the elderly,” The McNeely family’s attorney Brian L. Salvi said. “While nothing will fill the void in her loved one’s hearts, we hope this settlement agreement will allow the family to find a bit of closure and begin the healing process.”
“This tragedy was avoidable and could and should have been prevented. Had the defendants used common sense and turned the heat off and the air conditioning on, these ladies would not have died. Corporate greed that puts profits over people is what led to the deaths of these three ladies. These tragedies remind us all about the importance of ensuring our family members’ safety, and to adequately address the many dangers our loved ones face,” the Reed family attorney, Larry Rogers, Jr. of Power Rogers, LLP said. “The family of Janice Reed lost their mother too soon from a situation that should have never occurred. The family is happy to resolve this matter and to be moving on with their lives.”
The apartment complex was represented by Steve Weiss of Tribler, Orpett & Meyer, P.C.
The families have asked that the media please respect their privacy during this time.