Escalator Death Settlement
The family of a 4-year-old Massachusetts boy killed in an escalator accident in a Sears store in 2011 has reached an out-of-court settlement with Sears, Schindler Elevator Corp. and Simon Property Group. The family’s lawyer, W. Thomas Smith, declined to reveal the terms of the confidential agreement, but Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly reported Smith settling an $11.5 million lawsuit with the exact premise as this case. How the Accident Happened Laura DiBona was on a shopping trip with her son, Mark, and other family members in March 2011. While riding the Sears escalator to the second floor, the moving guardrail pulled Mark through the gap between the Plexiglas divider and the escalator. The boy dropped 18 feet onto a display case and struck his head. He died in the hospital the following day. Receiving Legal Justice The DiBonas filed a negligence lawsuit in June 2011 against Sears, Schindler, Simon Property Group and Botany Bay Construction Co. While the DiBona family may never emotionally overcome this incident, the legal matter has finally been resolved three years later. The alleged $11.5 million settlement may seem large, but it’s not uncommon in cases like this. After all, under Massachusetts law, the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit can seek punitive and compensatory damages, especially if the plaintiff can prove unusual suffering of the victim or reckless conduct by the defendant. Sears and the other defendants are seeking to recover damages from Botany Bay and John A. Van Deusen & Associates, an elevator and escalator consulting firm based in New York, through a “cross-claims” process. Scrutiny of Escalator Safety Mark DiBona’s death led to a crackdown on escalator safety across Massachusetts. State public safety officials inspected all 927 escalators in Massachusetts after the accident. They discovered that 69 lacked barricades while others were missing either the top or bottom barricade. In addition, about 25 percent of the state’s annual inspections were overdue. The gap between the guardrail and the Plexiglas wall on the Sears escalator that Mark fell through exceeded the code requirement by 1.25 inches. The state ended up firing two escalator inspectors and disciplining nearly two-thirds of all escalator inspectors across the state for failing to catch similar code violations elsewhere. When another company’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, a personal injury or negligence lawsuit may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an incident where injuries or death were caused by a negligent party.