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Investigation into fatal NYC elevator accident continues

New York residents probably remember hearing about the Dec. 14 elevator accident that claimed the life of a 41-year-old advertising executive. She was killed in horrific fashion when the elevator she was trying to board shot up suddenly, ending her life in tragic and dramatic manner.

Although the exact circumstances of the accident still aren't known, it certainly seems like the building's owners or the elevator maintenance company lapsed in their responsibility to maintain their environs in a reasonable safe manner -- a duty all property owners and managers have under premises liability law.

It was recently learned that the company responsible for maintaining the elevator fired five mechanics in connection with the incident. Evidently, these mechanics did not disable a key mechanism that keeps the doors of a malfunctioning elevator from opening and thus created the dangerous building conditions that led to the woman's death.

Their firing came two days after a New York City Department of Investigations inquisition pointed the finger at the five mechanics. A buildings commissioner criticized the mechanics for "failing to follow the most basic safety procedures" and claimed that "their carelessness cost a woman her life." The co-owner of the elevator maintenance company has also had his license suspended while the investigation continues.

The company declined to comment much on the firing, as did the attorneys who represent the five fired mechanics.

Elevator accidents such as this are not an everyday occurrence, but they are not terribly rare, either. In 2001, there were 43 reported elevator accidents. In 2010, 53 accidents were reported to authorities.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "5 workers fired after deadly NYC elevator accident," March 1, 2012

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