Verdicts & Settlements

Parents donate their portion of wrongful death settlement as a way to honor son

  • Print.

The parents of Kevin Kennelly Jr., a 17-year-old Chicagoan who died in 2011 after being punched in the face, have donated their portion of a $1 million wrongful death settlement to various Catholic institutions, including two schools their son attended.

“It wasn’t our money. It was the price they put on Kevin’s life,” Kevin Kennelly Sr. told the Daily Southtown. “This is something we have to live with for the rest of our lives. But doing this, giving money away, it makes us feel pretty good that something good came out of Kevin’s time on this earth.”

The fight that led to the young man’s death took place July 4 in Long Beach, Indiana, a resort town on Lake Michigan near the Michigan border. Jake Malecek, also a Chicago resident pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2013.

Malecek was 19 at the time of the incident, and sentenced to serve four years in jail. Of that sentence, 145 days was actual jail time, and the rest was home confinement.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Kennellys’ wrongful death action named Malecek, his sister, who was a minor at the time of the incident, and his mother, Marguerite Malecek, as defendants.

The action alleged that Malecek and his sister were drunk when the fight occurred, and she instigated the fight. The lawsuit also claimed that Marguerite Malecek encouraged her daughter to take alcoholic beverages to the beach, according to the Chicago Tribune, and she destroyed evidence after her children fled the beach.

A family member in 2013 released a statement that Jake Malecek’s actions were a result of him trying to protect his younger sister. The siblings are of Korean descent, and the New York Times reported that the fight started because of someone’s comments about race to Malecek’s sister.

The Kennelly’s maintain that Kevin Jr. was trying to calm James Malecek down when he was hit in the head.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.