- March 21, 2023
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Personal Injury
For decades, MARTA has relied upon Schindler Elevator Corporation for its escalator and elevator maintenance. As we’ve detailed elsewhere on this site, there have been a disturbing number of escalator accidents in MARTA stations during that time, including an incident where three escalators failed in a single day.
To be fair to MARTA, Schindler is one of five extremely powerful international companies in the elevator/escalator industry. The European Commission, a trade regulatory organization for the European Union, fined all five of them for alleged price-fixing in 2007. Four of the five, including Schindler, have also been accused of contributing to crisis-level maintenance breakdowns across Canada.
MARTA did briefly experiment with at least one other maintenance company, namely Elevator Specialists, with horrifying results.
Getting adequate escalator and elevator maintenance services is no doubt a challenge, but the fact remains that the safety standards MARTA passengers are currently experiencing are simply not good enough.
A Man’s Arm Was Caught in an Escalator at Arts Center Station in February
There isn’t much public information yet on the man who was injured at MARTA’s Arts Center Station on February 20th, 2023. What we do know is that Atlanta Fire Rescue responded to a call a little before 7am and found the man with his arm still stuck in the escalator. Responders were able to free him and transport him to Grady Hospital.
His identity, his current condition, and the exact details of his accident have not been released.
There are two main areas of an escalator where an arm can get stuck:
- Between the folding stairs and the stationary plate at the exit of the escalator (the most common place for legs to get stuck).
- In the moving handrails of the escalator.
A girl from California who survived the latter type of accident in August of 2022 did share her experience in detail. According to her account, she was riding an escalator at MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana with her cousin and sister, on their way to see a movie, when she noticed her shoelace was stuck between the steps. She successfully dislodged it, but lost her balance. When she tried to pull herself back up by the handrail, her hand was pulled underneath. She also says that her cousin and another guest had to press the emergency stop button repeatedly before finally getting it to work.
MainPlace Mall did, incidentally, have a contract with Schindler as of 2018.
Escalators are supposed to have safety guards to minimize the possibility of limbs catching in any of their workings. Every single incident in which a rider becomes entangled in an escalator deserves a proper investigation.
MARTA and Schindler Have Been Co-Defendants Before, and Can Be Again
At least twice before, escalator accident survivors have sued MARTA and Schindler together, and won against both companies. The survivors had suffered serious injuries in separate accidents in 2006 and 2007.
The reasoning behind suing both companies is fairly simple. Like all companies and organizations, MARTA and Schindler both have a responsibility to make sure the services they provide, and the spaces they control, don’t pose a public safety hazard.
By now, MARTA would appear to have plenty of reason to distrust Schindler’s safety capabilities. At the same time, MARTA’s choice to continue working with Schindler, instead of seeking out smaller, local maintenance companies, does not absolve Schindler of its duty to do a better job in the future.
When two organizations contribute to an accident, neither organization’s mistake should be allowed to erase the other’s accountability. And, on a practical level, being able to name multiple negligent parties can give the survivor a better chance of winning fair compensation from at least one of them, or a combination of both.
If you are the survivor of the Arts Center Station escalator accident, or if you have also been harmed by a malfunctioning escalator or elevator at a MARTA station, reach out to the Stoddard Firm for a free consultation on your case.