Lawsuit filed in Massachusetts escalator fatality

Last week it was reported that the parents of a 4-year-old boy who was tragically killed in an escalator accident at the Auburn Mall in Massachusetts have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the contractors that installed the escalator, the store where the escalator was installed and the manufacturer of the escalator equipment.

Specifically, the suit alleges that the contractors who installed the escalator in 2009 were negligent in failing to follow state guidelines and ignoring city-approved construction plans when they left open the gap that the boy fell through to his death.

The accident happened when the boy, who was shopping with his mom at Sears, stepped onto the escalator and was pulled through a small gap between the escalator and a plexiglass barrier installed on the sides. He then dropped one floor suffering head injuries. The boy was transported to a local hospital where he died the next day.

A spokesperson for the family said the accident should never have happened and brought the lawsuit to help make sure that an accident like this doesn’t happen again.

The spokesperson said that the family has proof that the city-approved building permit, which included the installation of a barrier to close the gap through which the boy was pulled, had not been followed. The suit alleges that the problem was known, but was never addressed by the store or the mall operators.

A statewide inspection of escalators has led to disciplinary action against two-thirds of the state’s escalator inspectors for approving escalators with safety violations similar to the one involved in the accident.

Construction company officials could not be reached for comment. The other companies named in the lawsuit all declined comment while the manufacturer of the escalator said it was cooperating in an investigation of the boy’s death.

Source: Boston Globe, “Family files suit over Auburn Mall escalator death,” John R. Ellement and Martin Finucane, 6/9/2011.