In the final episode of this two-part series, Karla’s attorneys fight an uphill battle in keeping her case alive as Karla is dealing with the emotional trauma in the aftermath of her attack.
As we learned in Episode 1, the lack of physical evidence police had to work with resulted in her assailant not being criminally charged for the attack. But Karla was persistent in her pursuit of justice and found a team of civil attorneys to file a premises liability lawsuit against the hotel that allowed this attack to happen.
As her attorneys at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard uncovered more and more information about how the Holiday Inn-Northshore Skokie had been operated, it became clear that the hotel was negligent and provided her attacker, Alhagie Singhateh, with an opportunity to prey on guests.
When her case is finally ready to go to trial in 2020, she faces even more frustration when the world suddenly shuts down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Karla and her team are forced to wait until 2022 to seek justice at trial.
Listen in to hear how Karla’s attorneys proved their case and how the defense tried to attack Karla’s character in an attempt to avoid liability.
Characters in this episode:
⚖️ Karla Gress, Plaintiff
⚖️ Tara R. Devine, Partner at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard
⚖️ Jaclyn J. Kurth, Attorney at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard
The aftermath: Karla battles physical and emotional turmoil following her attack and is traumatized by the idea of traveling. This also instills a new fear for her loved ones when traveling on their own.
Lax safety protocols: Karla’s lawyers at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard set out to prove that the Holiday Inn Northshore-Skokie did not provide their guests with a safe place to stay and put them in harm’s way by providing very little oversight of their employees.
The evidence against the hotel: Karla’s attorneys find the hotel security guard in question was never placed on administrative leave during the course of the investigation and that he was involved in a number of other incidents at the hotel. He remains employed for at least a year after Karla’s rape.
Case goes up on appeal: Karla’s attorneys face a number of legal hurdles to keep the case alive, as the defense files appeal after appeal of the civil case.
Coronavirus delays: As Karla’s case is finally ready to go to trial in 2020, a global pandemic provides yet another set back and Karla must wait another two years to have her day in court. Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard teams up with another Chicago law firm to provide additional resourced to Karla.
Preparing for trial: Karla’s lawyers prep her to take the stand so she can be as ready as possible to face the defense’s cross-examination — an intimidating process.
Karla’s day in court: Trials put a lot of pressure on plaintiffs: they feel as if their integrity is being scrutinized. Karla recounts her experience for the jury in court.
Victim-blaming: The defense argues that the interaction between the security guard and Karla was consensual and suggest she was looking for attention she did not receive at home. It is a battle of credibility between the plaintiff and her assailant. Who will the jury ultimately believe?
The jury deliberates: The lawyers make their closing arguments and the nerve-wracking wait for the verdict begins. But there are some important conversations happening between the lawyers during this time.
Moving forward: After winning her case, Karla has an important message for victims of sexual assault.