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Boyfriend of Woman Killed by Falling Stone Claims Negligence, Sues Church

September 23, 2014  ·  By HM&M


It has been reported a lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court this month by Lance Johnson, the boyfriend of the woman who was hit by a falling church stone, an incident which resulted in her death. Johnson was walking with the victim, Sarah Bean, when part of a stone gargoyle fell from the church, hitting her in the head.

Johnson is suing both the Second Presbyterian Church, a Chicago South Loop church, and the Presbytery of Chicago. Claims of the lawsuit state that there was negligence in ownership of the church building by allowing the wall’s exterior to “exist in a dangerous and unrepaired condition.”

Negligence is defined as a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have implemented under the same conditions. Chicago city records show a history of violations reported about the church’s structure from 2007 to 2011 including failure to maintain an interior stairway system and failure to remove obstruction from building exits.

The church was built in 1974 and declared a historic national landmark in 2013. It passed inspections in 2012 and 2013.

When it comes to negligence, there are five elements required to establish a case:

-The existence of legal duty to exercise reasonable care;

-Failure to exercise reasonable care;

-Cause in fact of physical harm by negligent conduct;

-Physical harm in the form of actual damages; and

-Proximate cause.

Rev. Robert Reynolds, executive presbyter with the Presbytery of Chicago, said he was unaware of any immediate structural issues at the time of the incident. He says that it is the responsibility of individual congregations to maintain their buildings.

If you are seeking legal counsel because you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to negligence in Illinois, contact a skilled Chicago general negligence attorney at Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. Call 312-553-4900 for an immediate free consultation.

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