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Law Offices of Jonathan M. Cooper

New York Noncompete, Trade Secret & School Negligence Blog

This blog by the six-time published author Jonathan Cooper, is intended to educate the general public about issues of interest, particularly innovations and changes in the law, in the areas of non-compete agreements, breach of contract matters, school negligence (and/or negligent supervision), construction accidentsslip and/or trip and fall accidentsauto accidents, and, of course, defective or dangerous products

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In a tragic incident that occurred on Friday, May 1, a blind 67 year-old man from Riverdale, in the Bronx section of New York, fell to his death when, after the door to his 10-floor building's elevator opened, he stepped into an empty elevator shaft.  By that same afternoon, New York City's Department of Buildings concluded that the elevator accident occurred because the safety device on the elevator door had malfunctioned, allowing the door to open even though the elevator had not yet arrived.

In interviews with reporters, some of the building's tenants claimed that there had been ongoing elevator maintenance and repair work at the building for several weeks prior to this incident.Some building residents said the elevators had been worked on for weeks.

Not surprisingly, this was not the first problem with this particular elevator; however, it does not appear that this elevator ever experienced the same problem that was responsible for this accident beforehand. In an interview with the New York Times, elevator consultant Scott Hayes opined that the mechanical devices that are designed to assure that the elevator's outer door remains shut until the elevator has arrived can occasionally become defective due to wear and tear or inadequate,  improper or negligent maintenance. For this reason, he recommended the obvious: that elevator passengers peer through the elevator door's window to assure that the elevator has arrived before opening the door and stepping into the shaft. He conceded, however, that this advice wouldn't prove effective in this case, where the person was legally blind.

For more information on building owners' and elevator repair company's liability for elevator accidents, see "Elevator Accidents and Injuries Under New York Law."

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