GWC Obtains $1 Million for Family of Boy Killed in House Fire

GWC Partner Joseph P. Sorce and attorney Autumn K. Leslie have obtained a $1 million settlement for the family of a young boy who was killed in a house fire.

Tragic Death of a Three-Year-Old Boy

On an afternoon in August 2018, a three-year-old boy was napping in his mother’s bedroom in their rental home on Chicago’s South Side. An electrical panel in the basement then burst into flames, accumulating large amounts of fire, smoke, and heat in the area where the boy was sleeping.

Unfortunately, the child could not be immediately evacuated due to the intensity of the blaze. When first responders from the Chicago Fire Department did extract the child, they attempted to perform emergency medical services. Despite their best efforts, the boy was tragically pronounced dead from his injuries.

He is survived by his mother, brother, and two sisters.

Significant Pushback from the Defendant

Autumn K. Leslie
Autumn K. Leslie

GWC filed suit on behalf of the family against the party who owned and maintained the rental property. The firm argued that the Defendant owner had a duty to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in the maintenance, upkeep, and operations of the home and failed to do so. As a result, there were significant deficits in the home’s electrical wiring, which sparked the deadly fire.

Nevertheless, the property owner denied responsibility, as none of the official police and fire investigations were able to pinpoint the cause or origin of the fire. The Defendant even suggested that careless smoking by the residents was a cause. The owner then moved for summary judgment to defeat the lawsuit.

While this motion was pending, GWC further investigated and was able to obtain sworn deposition testimony from a previously unknown witness who had earlier observed and condemned the electrical wiring in the home. The witness also attributed the origin of the fire to code deficiencies in the electrical panel that the owner had ignored or covered over.

Based on this testimony, GWC obtained permission from the court to amend the lawsuit to add multiple facts demonstrating that the negligence of the Defendant owner was egregious.

Insurer Attempts to Prolong the Litigation

When this amended lawsuit forced the Defendant to withdraw the motion for summary judgment, GWC attorney Autumn Leslie followed up and issued a letter demanding that the Defendant pay the Plaintiff the full amount of the insurance policy. In response, the Defendant’s insurer refused to pay in an attempt to prolong the litigation.

Autumn responded with an ultimatum giving the Defense a mere seven days to pay the full amount of the policy, allowing for no further delays and no discount whatsoever. Forty-eight hours later, the Defense tendered every penny of the policy, as Autumn demanded, resulting in a settlement of $1 million for the surviving family members.

Helping Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones

The loss of a loved one is devastating, even more so when those who are at fault take unreasonable positions in an effort to evade responsibility. To help make sure that they are held accountable for their negligence, consider doing what so many others have done before you and reach out to the wrongful death attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.

With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois.

To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our dedicated personal injury attorneys, contact GWC today. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.