Fatal Elevator Accident Due To Disabled Safety Device

After an investigation by the New York City Department of Buildings, a determination has been made that the December 14, 2011 fatal accidenthttp://www.injurylawny.com/lawyer-attorney-1052470.html at 285 Madison Avenue in Manhattan involving 41 year old advertising executive Suzanne Hart was caused by a disabled safety circuit. The tragic elevator accident occurred at approximately 10:00 am last December 14th, when Ms. Hart attempted to board elevator 9 at 285 Madison Avenue in Manhattan on her way to work at Young & Rubicam, where she was employed as a director of new business. When Ms. Hart was partially in the elevator, the car suddenly lurched upward, and her body was pinned in the elevator shaft between the first and second floors of the building.

There were two passengers on the elevator when the fatal accident occurred. They were trapped in the elevator and required rescue workers to free them from the car. Transel Elevator Inc. had been servicing the 13 elevators in the building pursuant to an agreement with the owners of the building, Young and Rubicam. On December 11, 2011, two of the Transel employees disabled a safety circuit on elevator number 9 in order to perform upgrade work on the elevator. However, in a clear safety breach, the maintenance workers forgot to enable the circuit before placing the elevator back in service.

Apparently video depicts the two Transel employees leaving the building at 9:55 am on December 14th, and Ms. Hart stepping onto the elevator one minute later. The car apparently lurched upward with its doors still open. It has been determined that the workers bypassed the door safety circuit with a jumper wire.

Robert D. LiMandri, the Commissioner of the NYC Building Department, stated: “These workers and their supervisors failed to follow the most basic safety procedures, and their carelessness cost a woman her life.” The three safety violations according to city officials were:
1. Failing to re-enable the safety circuit after completing the upgrade;
2. Failing to post a sign that the work was being performed on the elevator; and

3. Failing to contact the Buildings Department to schedule a mandatory inspection prior to placing the elevator back in service.

Transel’s license has been suspended pending a hearing, where it is possible that the license will be permanently revoked. It faces 23 violations with minimum penalties of $117,000. Transel reports on its website that it services 2,500 elevators in New York City. There are approximately 60,000 elevators in the entire city and there were 43 reported accidents in 2011. After the Hart accident, the Buildings Department performed an inspection of 658 elevators in 169 New York City buildings, 370 of which were maintained by Transel. 135 violations were issued at that time, with 71 issued to Transel.

Since the accident, the building manager replaced Transel with PS Marcato to maintain the elevators in the building. Transel previously had many high profile clients including the Graybar Building, the BMW Building, Carnegie Hall, the Hippodrome Building and the Plaza Hotel. No lawsuit has been filed by the estate of Suzanne Hart as of the date of this article, but that certainly seems likely, particularly after the damning results of the Buildings Department investigation.

Contact the Westchester County Personal Injury Attorneys online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you, a friend or relative suffers serious injuries in an elevator accident, construction accident, car crash, or any other type of accident for a free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail. We are dedicated to fighting the insurance companies and their attorneys to maximize your compensation for your pain and suffering, physical and emotional, lost earnings, past and future, loss of earnings capacity, medical and hospital expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life.