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Lawsuit filed over Boston sports park elevator fall


It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes commitment to operate a venue as large as Boston’s Fenway Park. Massachusetts property owners and operators are responsible for keeping residences and businesses of every size in reasonably safe condition to prevent visitor injuries.

A woman who was seriously injured after tumbling down an elevator shaft at Fenway Park in May, recently filed a premises liability claim. The defendants included Otis Elevator Company, a servicing contractor and Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Red Sox. The lawsuit alleged negligence caused the 22-year-old woman’s injuries.

The victim suffered internal contusions, a traumatic brain injury and fractures to her spine and face. The claim said the woman was permanently impaired, mentally and physically, after falling through a defective elevator door and approximately 25 feet down onto the top of an elevator car.

A Massachusetts Department of Public Safety report disputed earlier claims “extreme force” cause the elevator door to collapse inward. The state inspector could find no reason to substantiate the argument excessive pressure on the door was a factor. The plaintiff’s claim maintained the door’s faulty hinges caused the door to swing inward.

The woman apparently did make physical contact with the door, as she stood with her back to the fourth floor elevator after hugging her father. The lawsuit said the door bottom opened due to improper maintenance following “casual contact.” The legal complaint stated the victim’s growing medical bills had exceeded $250,000.

The state report noted parts designed to secure the elevator doors were replaced three times in the two years leading up to the accident. The report said the doors may have been “compromised” between a February inspection and the May accident.

Liability concerns increase along with the size of property. Negligent third parties, like equipment manufacturers and servicers, may be as accountable for visitors’ injuries as property owners and operators.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Woman badly injured in Fenway files suit” Travis Andersen, Dec. 19, 2014

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