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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Man’s Death Blamed|on Vicious Swans

CHICAGO (CN) - A kayaker drowned in an attack by vicious swans and his family claims in court that the property owner should have known the animals were unreasonably dangerous.

Amy Hensley, on behalf of her deceased husband's estate, sued Hillcrest Property Management, Bay Colony Condominium Owner's Association, Bay Colony Homeowners Association and affiliates in Cook County Court.

"As a part of its attempt to control the geese population on and around the subject property, defendant Hillcrest Property Management, Inc. kept a pair of mute swans on or near the retention pond," the widow claims in the lawsuit.

"The mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds, with males (known as cobs) averaging about twenty-four to twenty-six pounds.

"Mute swans are extremely aggressive and attack by smashing at their victims with bony spurs in the wings, accompanied by biting with their large bill. The wings of these swans are very powerful, reported to exert enough force to break an adult man's leg," according to the complaint.

In April 2012, Hensley was kayaking on the Bay Colony pond in Des Plaines when he "was attacked by the mute swans kept by defendant on the premises."

"This attack caused or contributed to the cause of Anthony Hensley falling out of his kayak and ultimately drowning," his wife says.

Hensley claims that "as occupiers, maintainers and managers of the subject property in question, the defendant had a duty to keep and maintain the premises in such a condition so that it did not constitute a danger to those persons lawfully upon the premises."

In addition, "Defendant knew or should have known that presence of the mute swans on the premises rendered it unreasonably dangerous."

Anthony Hensley left behind two very young daughters.

His widow seeks damages under the Animal Control Act, for premises liability and for negligence.

She is represented by Kenneth Apicella with Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella in Palatine.

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