Anesi Ozmon, Rodin, Novak & Kohen, Ltd. secured a record settlement of $2.1 million for the wrongful death of Nita Anthony. The financial recovery will be awarded to the victim’s four surviving children. On February 17, 2003, Anthony, 24, died from comprehension asphyxiation injuries at the E2 Nightclub during an event promoted, endorsed, and hosted by Clear Channel Communications, Inc. and its affiliate WGCI. Anthony and other victims were harmed as a result of the negligent acts of Vaughn Woods, a disc jockey employed by Clear Channel and WGCI, as well as by the venue’s owners Dwain Kyles and Calvin’s Hollins’ joint failure to ensure the safety of the people at the club that night.
At the time of the incident, Woods ordered security personnel to spray mace into the crowd in an ill-conceived effort to break up a fight inside the nightclub. Surviving victims reported that Woods also incited the crowd by declaring over the loudspeakers that the noxious chemical spray was caused by a terrorist attack.
The nightclub was also filled beyond capacity with 1200 patrons in attendance. The posted occupancy permit for the facility indicated a limit of 327 individuals. This and other hazardous building code violations, combined with the negligent acts of Woods, created a panicked and fearful rush to the exit, with over 500 people pushing on a closed door, unable to escape.
Anthony’s chronic asthma was aggravated after the release of the chemical spray and her breathing became further labored as the frantic crowd continued to push and constrict around her in an effort to escape the venue.
A medical report indicates Anthony’s injuries caused her to experience oxygen deprivation, a condition where oxygen does not reach the brain and causes brain death. The medical results also show that she suffered severe pain and fear as she gradually succumbed to her injuries and died.
Prior to her death, Anthony was a healthy, hardworking mother of four children. She worked as a security officer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with plans to further her education and career. The children lived with her as she was their primary caregiver and provider. She worked hard to support them emotionally and financially. The horrific events of that night took away their mother, a woman they depended on and loved.
While nothing can lessen the sense of loss at the death of a mother and friend, this result will help her children going forward, and provide justice for them and all of the other families irreparably harmed by this horrible tragedy.