Property owners and residents have a responsibility to ensure the safety of those that enter their property. One Manhattan property owner may be held responsible for the injuries a 12-year-old girl received after she fell down an elevator shaft.
The girl fell about 35 feet from the first-floor lobby down to the elevator pit in the subbasement. A man working nearby was on his lunch break when a woman standing outside the building told him that a girl had fallen into the shaft. He confirmed that the girl was still alive, and then warned other residents not to use the elevator to avoid crushing the girl.
About 20 emergency workers conducted a "confined-space operation" to rescue the girl due to the limited amount of space. The elevator doors had to be pried open to retrieve the girl, who was then placed onto a backboard. The space was so limited that she had to be put in a basket in order to get her up to the first floor. It is unclear how the girl got into the shaft in the first place, but she was taken to a local hospital, where she was listed in serious condition.
This isn't the first time the elevator has caused problems in the building. Buildings Department records show that Recherche Realty Inc. was fined $250 last December for not keeping the elevator up to code. The fine was paid and the problem was corrected, so the complaint was closed.
Property owners have a duty to provide safe property conditions. Landlords are not generally liable to a lessee for harm caused by a condition on the property. However, the landlord can be held responsible under certain circumstances. For example, if an injury occurs as a result of a latent defect that existed when the lessee took possession of the property, the landlord can be held liable.