Violations Plague NYC Building Where Elevator Crushed Man

The elevator in which a man was crushed moments before the beginning of the new year was in a Lower East Side building that had received multiple safety violations.

The death of Stephen Hewett-Brown, 25, a resident of the Bronx and a guest at a party in the building, capped off years of citations, resident complaints, and a recent hearing to address the malfunctions and spotty service of the building’s three elevators.

Hewett-Brown was among a group of residents and party attendees squeezed into the elevator at 131 Broome Street just before midnight on December 31. When the elevator abruptly stopped, occupants pried open the doors. Hewett-Brown helped others to safety before the elevator hurtled downwardpinning him between the third floor and the elevator cab. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

“It could’ve been any of us,” said Madeline Regalado, 27, a medical assistant, who said that she is afraid to use to elevators and that malfunctions were nothing new. She described problems with one of the elevators a week before when it was stuck near the lobby and its doors refused to open.

Multiple safety citations before fatal elevator accident

According to city records, there were three open violations on the elevators issued by the Buildings Department in response to the management’s failure to correct problems unearthed during a 2012 inspection. A hearing scheduled for Thursday was set up to address a $200 fine administered by the Environmental Control Board related to the elevators’ directional lights.

Residents of the building had filed multiple complaints over the years related to the elevators’ malfunctions. They complained of chronic problems with service. For instance, one complaint from May reported that two of the three elevators had been down for an entire week. Shortly thereafter, another complaint described how all of the elevators were out of commission for an entire hour. A resident of the building also complained back in 2011 that the elevators were routinely shut down all night, with service restored only at 7 am. Tenants were forced to use the stairs of the 26-floor building during night-time hours.

There were also reports of the elevators dropping abruptly. In July of 2011, a tenant complained that the elevator plummeted several floors while several passengers were on board. A similar incident was reported thirteen days later; the elevator doors would also not open.

Management may be held liable

Elevator accidents claim roughly two dozen lives every year, with many more injuries. Liability for such accidents depends on a number of factors. If the elevator involved in an accident malfunctioned due to a manufacturing flaw, the company that produced it may be liable in a products liability lawsuit. However, an elevator service company or building owner who neglected to properly service or inspect the elevator may also be implicated in a premises liability claim. In the case of the 131 Broome Street elevators, it appears that the building management may be responsible, though a thorough investigation will have to rule out the complicity of the other parties listed above.

If you suffered harm due to an elevator malfunction and want to explore your legal options, it is important to partner with a law firm with the experience and resources to get results.

To learn more about filing a premises liability lawsuit in NY, please call The Sanders Firm at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to set up a complimentary case evaluation.  A successful lawsuit can help recover damages for emotional trauma, medical bills, lost wages and other losses. Resources

  1. New York Times, Man is Crushed to Death by Falling Elevator in New York City
  2. New York Times, Man is Crushed by Elevator in Building that had a History of Complaints