Man’s Fingers Crushed in Department Store Elevator


This machine automation case involves a thirty-five-year-old man who was shopping at a large department store.  Upon entering an elevator, the plaintiff saw an elderly couple slowly approaching the elevator. As the elevator doors were closing, the man put his hand between the two elevator doors to keep it open. This particular elevator door was not equipped with a sensor to prevent the door from closing. As a result of the man’s hand being shut in the elevator, he broke his first, second and third metacarpals on his right hand, his dominant hand.  As result of the injury, he is now forced to use his left hand to do nearly every task.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Should a retail store equip their elevators with sensors to prevent closure when something is in the path of those doors?

Expert Witness Response

It is the responsibility of any public space that has an elevator to make sure that elevator is safe for use. All elevators must comply with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers standards. This applies to all elevators as have been adopted by the American National Standards Institute. ASME 17.1 deals specifically with safety features for escalators and elevators. According to these safety standards, elevator doors must have a sensor installed that can comprehend if something is their path. The safety sensor protects the riders and goods upon entry to the elevator. In this instance, the department store had not installed a sensor to prevent the door from shutting on the man’s hand as he held the door open for the elderly couple and therefore failed to meet the minimum safety standards of ASME 17.1.

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