Young Man Dies In Brooklyn Elevator Accident

A Brooklyn apartment building elevator that had a long history of complaints and violations malfunctioned earlier this month, killing 37-year-old Eran Modan. According to tenants, the elevator was known for its strange sounds, sudden jerks and wobbles, which frequently left its occupants unnerved. In fact, since 2013, the elevator was checked for at least four violations, which had all been resolved.

But on Friday, October 2, when Modan and four friends entered the elevator at 156 Hope Street, it suddenly plunged to the basement. When Modan attempted to step out of the cab onto the basement floor, the elevator shot back up to the lobby, crushing Modan’s body which was only half way out the door.

“As it went up, he tried to jump out and was caught in between two floors,” said one of his friends who watched him die. “His body was squashed.” Modan suffered severe trauma to the head and torso and was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS workers. His crumpled body was removed by firefighters.

Elevator holding too much weight, officials say

Rick D. Chandler, the Buildings Department commissioner, held a news conference shortly after the incident. “We think that the elevator was adjusting or leveling,” he speculated. “It may have been overloaded and the car was reacting in a way that was not predictable.”

A separate city official, whose name was kept anonymous pending investigation results, told the NY Times that “the device brake was unable to hold the capacity load.” This, it would seem, caused the elevator to suddenly plummet.

P&W Elevator had conducted a full load inspection test on the Brooklyn elevator in 2013, in addition to other standard tests just 3 months ago. A company representative declined to comment on the accident.

Other tenants of the apartment building recounted various glitches with the elevator over the past months and years. One tenant’s girlfriend had gotten trapped in the cab for about 5 minutes until the door randomly opened. Another person says he’d gotten stuck several times, suggesting it was possibly unsafe and unreliable.

Liability for elevator accidents and deaths in NY

In the event of an elevator malfunction and resulting injury or death in NYC, various entities may be held liable depending on the circumstances. Maintenance companies may be responsible for injury or death if the repairs and general maintenance provided are found to be subpar, or for utilizing faulty components. Additionally, property owners who fail to order routine safety inspections, or fail to report hazards or malfunctions may also be held liable for negligence if an elevator accident occurs.

Elevator-related deaths, though rare in New York City, still happen more than you’d imagine and result with catastrophic consequences. In 2011, a woman was killed in Midtown Manhattan when an elevator she had just stepped into shot upwards, pinning her to death. Lax maintenance work was ultimately blamed for the accident.

Injury attorneys specializing in elevator accident cases

The Sanders Law Firm offers their sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Eran Modan, whose life was cut short by a tragic and perhaps avoidable tragedy.

To speak with a veteran premises liability lawyer New York trusts in the wake of an elevator accident, call The Sanders Firm at: 1-800-FAIR-PLAY. The consultation is free and we only collect payment when you do. Resources

  1. NY Times, Man Visiting Brooklyn Apartment Building Dies in Elevator Accident
  2. NYTimes blog, Elevator Work Blamed in Death of Suzanne Hart