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Everyone has most likely ridden an escalator at some point, but how often has safety crossed your mind while riding?  Escalator accidents occur despite the fact that they are subject to state safety code regulations. Faulty parts, neglected inspections or improper maintenance may cause serious or fatal injuries.

On June 14, 2011, I published a blog about the 4-year-old boy who fell through a gap between the up and down escalators in the Sears Department Store of the Auburn Mall on March 11, 2011.  He died the next day from traumatic head injuries.

A wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the escalator was “dangerous and defective” and violated state building codes, escalator safety standards, and American Society of Mechanical Engineers standards. The suit alleged that when new escalators were installed in the mall in 2009, the building permit called for the installation of barriers to close the small gap that the child had fallen through. Unfortunately, the barriers were never installed.  If they had, this little boy would be alive today.  The opening between the escalator’s upper handrail and the plexi-glass wall exceeded the code requirement by 1¼ inch. Named defendants were Schindler Elevator Corporation, Schindler Elevator Corporation, Botany Bay Construction Co., the Simon Property Group, and its two subsidiaries that own and run the mall.

There are two main reasons people file lawsuits – to be compensated for damages resulting from the negligence of someone else and to bring awareness to prevent the negligence from happening to others.  This family will never see this little boy run, play ball, go to school, or grow up and get married, but after three years the legal battle has ended with an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.  It also led to increased scrutiny of escalator safety in Massachusetts.

Following this accident, the state found 69 escalators lacked barricades and others were missing top or bottom barricades. Also, about a quarter of the escalators were overdue for an annual inspection.  Although nothing will bring this child back, the lawsuit not only compensated this family for their loss, but more importantly, brought awareness to ensure that corrective action is taken to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.

Mark Bello has thirty-seven years experience as a trial lawyer and fifteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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