Maker of garage opener sued in youth's death Columbia family blames electric device

door crushed son, 8, in 1995

July 01, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

The family of an 8-year-old Columbia boy who was crushed by a garage door at his home in 1995 is suing the manufacturer and seller of an electric garage door opener.

The suit was filed by the family of Simon Decker against Sears Roebuck & Co., Chamberlain Manufacturing and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. The suit alleges the door opener was deficient and dangerous -- one of many similar suits filed in the past decade.

Electric garage doors now require safety devices to prevent accidents, said Matthew Zimmerman, the Deckers' attorney, but that did not help the Deckers, whose opener was made between 1975 and 1979. "People don't realize this thing is absolutely deadly," Zimmerman said.

Attorneys for the defendants could not be reached for comment. The suit, originally filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, was moved to federal court Thursday at the request of the defense, court records show.

In May, a Baltimore judge dismissed the case against the Maryland company that inspected the garage door opener. The other defendants are in different states.

Simon died Aug. 16, 1995, when the garage door came down on his chest and suffocated him. The opener, according to the suit, should have reversed when it came into contact with an object, but did not.

Simon's death is commemorated by an annual soccer game to promote child safety.

After the death of the child, students at his west Columbia elementary school planted a garden for him and a had a tree dedicated to him in Israel.

Pub Date: 7/01/98

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