CHICAGO (CN) – A historic Presbyterian church is responsible for a woman’s death because a stone gargoyle fell from its facade and hit her in the head, her fiance claims in court.
Lance Johnson, on behalf of his son and his late girlfriend Sarah Bean, sued Presbytery of Chicago and Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago on Monday in Cook County Court.
On Thursday last week, “Sarah Bean was walking along the sidewalk immediately adjacent to defendant’s property,” the complaint states.
“A piece of decorative metal broke free from the exterior wall of the building and fell.
“The aforementioned piece of decorative metal struck a stone ornamental gargoyle extending from the exterior wall of the building and caused a portion of the stone ornamental gargoyle to break off and fall.
“The plaintiff’s decedent, Sarah Bean, was struck immediately upon the head with the portion of the stone ornamental gargoyle and was killed as a result of the blunt force trauma from the impact.” (“On Sept. 4, 2014” deleted from beginning of each sentence.)
The church, a Gothic-style building built in 1874, failed building inspections from 2007 to 2011 for various reasons, but passed in recent years, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“The piece of decorative metal on the exterior wall of the defendant’s building was rusted and in disrepair,” the complaint states.
“The masonry, including the bricks, mortar, stones and ornamental objects, on the exterior wall of the defendant’s building lacked structural integrity and was in disrepair.”
Johnson claims the Presbytery “knew that the exterior of the building was in disrepair, was unsafe, and imminently dangerous, and was dangerous to people.”
Bean, 34, and Johnson raised two boys together, a fourth-grader and a high school freshman, one of whom is Johnson’s biological son. The couple had decided to get married shortly before the accident, the Tribune reported.
The day after Bean’s death, protective scaffolding was placed around the building, and renovations began on the church’s façade.
Johnson seeks damages for wrongful death.
He is represented by Michael Keating.
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