Family Of Berrien County Motel Fire Victims File Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Aug 21, 2019

This photo was released on July 29, 2018 by the school in the Benton Harbor area where children who died in the fire attended classes. The only survivor was the baby on the lap of the oldest child. From left to right in the photo are Samuel Curtis (age 5), Savod Curtis (age 4), Marquise Thompson (age 10), Autumn Curtis (on lap, age 1, survivor), Avery Curtis (age 2) and Gerome Randolph (age 7.)

The family of a mother and five children that died in a fire at a Benton Harbor motel last summer have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the motel’s owner. 

The lawsuit was filed back in April but the Curtis family’s attorney recently publicized the information in an email.

This was in response to the Berrien County Prosecutor’s press release saying there would be no criminal charges filed in the case.

Jon Jilek is the Curtis family’s attorney. He challenged some parts of the prosecutor’s press release, saying it’s inaccurate.

“The family was very surprised and disappointed with the press release sent out by the Berrien County prosecutor," he said. "We are going to aggressively seek justice for this family, the survivors, the people that have to live with this forever.”

Jilek also said discrimination may have played a role in the prosecutor’s decision.

This case is currently in the pre-trial phase which means both sides are gathering evidence and interviews from each other. This is expected to last several months.


Contact Annacaroline at or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

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