Escalator accidents – who woulda thunk it? Well, actually, I’ve thunk it but, hey, I represent people who get hurt in a variety of ways both common and uncommon.
Earlier today I read a fascinating account of how a New York Jets fan was injured when an escalator malfunctioned at Meadowlands Stadium. The Lawyers USA blog post Jets Fan Gets Day In Court Over Escalator Malfunction tells the whole story. To sum it up, though, it was a crazy game on October 1, 2006. The stadium was packed and everyone stayed until the last second of the game. “Everyone” means 77,190 distraught Jets fans!
Well, when the game was over, they made a mass exodus and, lo and behold, two pals who left at the same time met with very different fates. Thomas DiBartolomeo and Bob Krauss were passengers on the descending moving staircase. “Disaster struck when DiBartolomeo and Krauss were on an escalator. According to Krauss, when they were about a quarter of the way down, the packed escalator 'bucked' twice and the treads 'flattened.' The quick-thinking Krauss leapt the handrail onto the neighboring escalator.
"But DiBartolomeo wasn’t so fortunate, joining other Jets fans as they slid down to the bottom of the escalator into a pileup of bodies." He suffered a hernia and a hip injury. More importantly, what caused the accident?
Schindler, the people who maintained the escalator, concluded that “the escalator had ‘skipped a tooth,’ causing a ‘free fall’ to the bottom.” A Schindler mechanic believed that the malfunction was probably the result of overloading due to the press of the crowd, with each escalator step rated to bear only 300 pounds.
So, this got me to thunking – er, I mean, thinking. How many escalator injuries are out there? Well, as it turns out, there are lots of escalator injuries and I thought you would be interested in reading about some of them:
- A malfunctioning three-story escalator at Scotttrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri left 13 people injured as they were leaving an NHL Blues hockey game. Read story
- Bruce Willis escaped injury when an escalator that he was riding on suddenly sped out of control. Read story
- 12 people injured and taken to a local Las Vegas hospital when a Cesar's Palace escalator malfunctions. Read story
and on and on and on.
Escalator Malfunctions (The Causes)
• Design flaws
• Escalator malfunction
• Manufacturing defect
• Missing escalator parts
• Step collapse
• Inadequate maintenance
• Installation errors
• Missing escalator teeth
• Worn escalator belt
Among other things, the following injuries have been reported as a result of escalator accidents:
- Knee problems from torn lateral meniscus to ACL tears
- Back injuries from sprains, strains to protruding/bulging and herniated discs
- Neck injuries from strains to protruding/bulging and herniated discs
- Elbow injuries
- Brain injuries
- Foot injuries including amputations
- Finger injuries including amputations
- Scarring, disfigurement
Published Verdicts & Settlements
Although many people would prefer to not serve on a jury, it is through a jury of our peers that justice is served. Below are a couple of escalator cases (one that settled, one that went to a jury)
The following are cases that have been published to the legal community. They were not handled by me or my office.
- Jane Doe vs. Roe Govt. Agency & Roe Escalator Company: Ms. Doe, a self-employed acting coach, was going down an escalator at a government agency's facility when it suddenly reversed direction, causing her to fall and several other people to fall on top of her.
Ms. Doe suffered a left lateral meniscus tear (knee) and posterior disc protrusion (back) which caused her to undergo cortisone injections, physical therapy and surgery.
The case settled for $425,000
- Rosen vs. Maguire Properties: Bottom line: A man fell down a non-operating escalator. It was alleged that Maguire Properties negligently managed, supervised and maintained their property by failing to warn of a dangerous condition on the property (i.e. non-operating escalator).
Interestingly, Mr. Rosen's injuries were not reported in the summary. However, a jury found that Mr. Rosen's injuries were sufficient to award him $452,757.