KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the eve of a trial in her wrongful death lawsuit against the Kansas City Chiefs, Jenni Van Winkle settled her case nearly five years after her husband’s death.
A big Chief’s fan, Kyle Van Winkle and some family members attended a Chief’s home game against the Denver Broncos in December 2013. He was drinking, and disappeared during the game.
Turns out he’d somehow gone back out to the parking lot and crawled into an unlocked SUV that looked similar to the vehicle they’d driven to the game. Partiers in the lot thought he’d broken into the SUV and attacked him.
In her lawsuit, Jenni Van Winkle claimed there wasn’t enough security in the lot to assist her husband and to provide aid when he fell to the ground and was left to die.
“Everything just crumbled around me,” the then young mother of a 7-week-old son told FOX4 in 2015. “It’s unbelievable to think that in a crowd so big, there was no one around to help.”
Jenni Van Winkle was not alone.
FOX4’s investigation turned up numerous lawsuits filed against the Chiefs, stemming from various fights and drunken behavior. Our investigation also turned up more assault calls for Arrowhead than similarly sized football markets.
At the time, the Kansas City Chiefs declined an on-camera interview but issued a statement saying, “The safety of our fans is our top priority.” The football club went on to say it takes “pride in creating a safe environment four our guests and will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure safety in our stadium and parking lots.”
Jenni Van Winkle’s lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court prompted settlement talks, but no deal was ever struck, and it was set for trial Monday (though a judge pushed it back one week to June 11, 2018).
On Monday, FOX4 confirmed the trial is off and a confidential settlement had been reached between the defendants in the case and the Van Winkles.
Neither side would comment on specifics. Scott Hofer, an attorney representing the Chiefs, and Bill Carr, representing the Van Winkle’s, both said the settlement was “resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.”
The settlement is pending the approval of the Jackson County judge overseeing the case, but so far no hearing date has been scheduled.
Jenni Van Winkle was unavailable to comment on the settlement but told FOX4 in 2015 she was speaking out to help prevent future “football widows.”
“It’s not a matter of, in my mind, if this will happen again. It’s a matter of when it will happen again,” she said.
Her son Will, weeks old when his father died, is now 4.