Product Liability

Manhattan elevator death spurs criminal investigation

NEW YORK CITY — A criminal investigation into the horrific elevator death of Suzanne Hart, a 41-year-old advertising executive with the Manhattan advertising firm Young and Rubicam, is underway.

Ms. Hart was killed December 14 when she was stepping onto an elevator at her firm’s Madison Avenue office building. Responders and witnesses, including two other people who entered the elevator ahead of Ms. Hart, said that the elevator suddenly shot upward with the door open, catching Ms. Hart by the leg and crushing her between floors.

A joint investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Buildings Department, and the NYPD found that Transel Elevator, a maintenance and repair company contracted to maintain the building’s elevators, had performed work on the lift that killed Ms. Hart just hours before.

A Buildings Department spokesperson has also reported that the same elevator was inspected in June, but no mechanical problems were found then, according to maintenance and inspection reports. Investigators are focusing on the electrical work that was performed on the deadly elevator the day before Ms. Hart stepped onto it.

The same company contracted to work on Young and Rubicam’s Madison Avenue lifts maintains elevators at several other New York City area buildings, including some offices at 95 Park Avenue, where one worker described the elevator as an adventure ride to the New York Post.

“It’s horrible. It jerks, skips floors, sinks, stops. It does what it wants when it wants,” the employee told the Post.

Nobody else was physically injured in the elevator malfunction that killed Ms. Hart, but according to the Guardian, others who witnessed that incident, including the two people who were inside the defective elevator, were treated for emotional trauma.

Ms. Hart’s violent death prompted the Buildings Department to launch a sweeping probe of the city’s elevators – the largest probe in the city’s history, according to the New York Post. Some 650 elevators have been inspected since Ms. Hart’s death.

Last year there were 53 accidents in New York City elevators, three of which were fatal.


The Daily Mail

New York Post

New York Times