Guard sues over mall escalator fall $700,000 sought from Beltsville firm

January 21, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

On the afternoon of April 12, 1991, Pierre Taylor was descending an escalator at The Mall in Columbia -- a common routine in his job as a mall security guard.

The 28-year-old Baltimore resident says in court documents that when he was about halfway down the escalator, it jerked to a stop and caused him to tumble about 15 steps, knocking him unconscious.

Contending that he was caused anxiety and mental anguish and left partially disabled, Mr. Taylor is seeking $700,000 in damages from the Montgomery Elevator Co., a Beltsville firm that maintains the escalator, according to a lawsuit filed in Howard Circuit Court Jan. 7.

The suit contends that Montgomery was negligent in failing to properly maintain the escalator to avoid such an incident.

"Montgomery Elevator Co. violated the duty owed to its passengers . . . by not maintaining the escalators which resulted in serious physical injuries to the plaintiff," the suit says.

Vern Weaver, service manager for Montgomery, referred comment on the suit to officials at corporate headquarters in Moline, Ill. Neither corporate officials nor Mr. Taylor could be reached for comment.

"He doesn't remember that much because he had such a fall," said Bradley Schwartz, a Rockville attorney representing Mr. Taylor. "It was basically quite traumatic."

Mr. Taylor severely injured his back, as well as his left knee, ankle, shoulder and neck, Mr. Schwartz said. He spent two days at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Mr. Schwartz said his client has spent about $10,000 for medical treatment. In addition, the incident has partially disabled Mr. Taylor so that he can no longer lift heavy objects, the attorney said.

The incident also has caused Mr. Taylor anxiety and mental anguish, the suit says. In addition, it damaged Mr. Taylor's relationship with his wife, Sheila, who is also a plaintiff.

No one else was on the escalator at the time of the incident, Mr. Schwartz said.

The attorney is asking Montgomery to provide him with repair orders, work orders, correspondence and other records regarding the escalator, records say.

He also asked the company to provide maintenance manuals and instructions for the escalator, records say.

"You go after the maintenance company because they're the ones responsible," Mr. Schwartz said. "These escalators and elevators are only as good as their maintenance company."

Mr. Taylor has requested a jury trial for his suit.

The case has been assigned to Judge Raymond Kane Jr.

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