On Feb. 17, 2003, someone had used pepper spray to break up a fight on E2's second-floor, sending hundreds of patrons bolting for the narrow stairwell and to the lone exit door below. In the chaos, the door became jammed by an ever-tightening crush of bodies that piled six feet high.
The E2 tragedy, along with a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub three days later that killed 100, prompted a nationwide effort to step up nightclub safety measures.
Victor Henderson, an attorney for Kyles, said he's disappointed with the ruling but that it could have been worse and explicitly reinstated the verdicts.
"Dwain Kyles' primary concern has always been the young people affected by the tragedy," Henderson said. "He has been steadfast and prayerful all the way through this process."
In its response, the city of Chicago's law department — which had asked Illinois' highest court to look again at the case — said it was pleased the ruling appeared to agree the owners did violate the order.
"But for those violations, this tragedy would not have occurred," it said in a Thursday statement.
A message seeking comment from Hollins' public defender, Abishi Cunningham Jr., was not immediately returned Thursday.
Kyles and Hollins, who have been free throughout the appellate process, have argued that they did close a mezzanine balcony on the second floor. That is what they understood the court order mandated they do instead of closing the entire second floor, they have said.
In 2007, Hollins was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter charges and the same charges were dropped against Kyles in 2008.