Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

A Malfunctioning Elevator in NYC Takes the Life of an Elderly Man

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Dec 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

A malfunctioning elevator in a New York City housing project claimed the life of an elderly man earlier this year. After a thorough investigation of the scene, city officials say that the tragic accident could have been prevented.

According to the New York Times, Olegario Pabon was trying to reach the second floor of the Boston Road Plaza, a residential building for seniors in the Bronx area, when he stepped into the faulty elevator. Apparently, it rose upwards and attempted to close with the 84-year-old man's hand and leg caught in its grasp. Pabon fell out of the raised elevator and suffered a fractured skull. He died just three days after the incident.

The city's Department of Investigation released a report uncovering that approximately two hours prior to Pabon's accident, the New York City Housing Authority was notified that the lift was “going up and down by itself” and that “it slams real hard” when the door closes. The agency listed the warning as a “low priority” issue and failed to act. Investigators say it wasn't the first time the NYCHA has blatantly ignored the concerns of its tenants. Just three days before this accident, authorities had to rescue a passenger from the exact same elevator. It tooks days before the NYCHA acknowledged what had occurred. In fact, the agency has had a bad reputation of disregarding updated city regulations regarding elevator inspections and slowly responding (if at all) to news of dangerous malfunctions in their elevators.

The report pinpoints that a fail-safe mechanism called a brake monitor - a component that shuts down elevators when the brake fails - could have saved the man's life, but it had been intentionally deactivated and covered with electrical tape. This was the case in 80 other elevators owned by the NYCHA. Investigators learned that that the agency didn't require a mandatory inspection of brake monitors for mechanics, and Tricon, the brake monitors' manufacturer, provided misleading blueprints that led mechanics to think the disabled devices were functioning.

When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio caught wind of the report's findings, he promised to hold the agency accountable, claiming that the NYCHA's leisurely efforts to repair its elevators are “unacceptable.” In response to these comments, the agency said that all busted brake monitors have been renewed, and that regular inspections of the devices are underway. Also, Chairwoman and chief executive of the agency, Shola Olatoye, released a statement saying that several workers are under investigation and will receive disciplinary action immediately. The chair of the City Council's public housing committee ,Ritchie Torres, held a hearing to address the issues revealed by the DOI, and hopes to prevent an incident like this from happening again.

“The fatality of Olegario Pabon and the elevator defect that led to it demonstrates a perfect storm of failure - from NYCHA staff to NYCHA leadership to the private manufacturer to the NYPD,” Torres said.

If you have been harmed as a result of the negligence of an agency or company, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian are dedicated to getting you the best results possible. Call their office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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