Elevator Personal Injury Case Survives Summary Judgment

In Mable v. 384 East Associates, LLC, 2019 NY Slip Op 06442, 2019 WL 4146514 (App. Div. 1st Dept. Sept. 3, 2019) – an elevator accident case – the court reversed a grant of summary judgment for defendant.

In this case, plaintiff asserts that he was injured when an elevator door closed on his right thumb. The court held that there were triable issues of fact regarding whether defendants had actual or constructive notice of problems with the elevator door, which precluded the granting of summary judgment.

From the decision:

The superintendent-in-training on the date of the accident testified that he did not receive any complaints regarding problems with the elevator door. The field mechanic for All Borough testified that he did not complete any repair work with respect to the door opening and closing too quickly. He did, however, replace the elevator shoe which is a necessary component for the elevator door to be able to close, although he could not recall exactly when in 2015 he replaced that part. The field mechanic also testified that if a resident of the building had a complaint regarding the elevator, the superintendent would contact All Borough’s office.

Plaintiff, however, testified that prior to his accident he had complained to the then superintendent, another building maintenance employee, and the management company numerous times regarding the velocity with which the elevator door closed. Plaintiff testified further that during one of his conversations with the management company regarding the elevator door, he was told that management would send a service company out to address the issue. Additionally, plaintiff testified that approximately two months before his accident, he witnessed a friend get hit in the shoulder by the fast closing elevator door, and that plaintiff and his mother reported this incident to the then superintendent and the management company.

The parties also presented conflicting expert affidavits regarding the potential causes of the alleged elevator door malfunction, including the purpose of the elevator shoe, and the relevance of the velocity with which the door closed as it pertained to the cause of plaintiff’s injury, which only further precludes a grant of summary judgment.

The court also declined to consider plaintiff’s arguments predicated on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, noting that they raised factual issues not submitted to the motion court.

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