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Maria Sanchez Killed in Elevator Shaft Fall at Food Emporium

In a horrifying and tragic incident, Maria Sanchez, a Food Emporium employee, was fatally crushed by an illegally-installed freight elevator in the chain's location on West 43rd Street on December 15, 2020. She was found at the bottom of the elevator shaft around 4:10pm, and the police responded to the scene 20 minutes later.

The 39-year-old Bronx woman had been loading produce into the freight elevator in the basement of the store when it suddenly jerked upward, crushing her head. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police sources. The Department of Buildings (DOB) has placed a cease-use order on the illegal elevator and have already issued a violation to Mahattan Plaza Inc., the building's owner. Andrew Rudansky, a spokesman for the DOB, confirmed that they will continue to thoroughly investigate this terrible incident.

Our hearts go out to loved ones of the victim. We offer our deepest condolences. As demonstrated by this incident, elevator accidents can be catastrophic, which is why it is crucial that those responsible for ensuring elevators run smoothly and safely abide by local laws governing elevator installation, inspection, and maintenance. If an accident occurs, they may be held liable for negligence. In this case, the accident likely could have been prevented if only the elevator had been legally installed.

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have seen firsthand the devastating effects that a serious accident can cause and have fought hard for clients whose lives have been upended by elevator accidents. Select lawsuits include:

  • $7,200,000 settlement in a tragic case for the family of a man who died after he fell down the elevator shaft of a commercial building during a power outage. The 25-year-old victim was a loving husband and father to two daughters, who were two years and five months when he passed away. We filed the lawsuit against multiple parties, and the case was fiercely defended. However, Partners Stephen Murphy and David Scher prevailed and were able to resolve the case for $7.2 million.
  • $7,000,000 settlement for a worker at a major food outlet in Manhattan who fell 30 feet down the elevator shaft. A husband and father to three children, our client suffered serious crush injuries to his feet and ankles, which required nine surgeries. As a result of the accident, he now suffers from limited mobility. The case was hard fought, as the defendants argued that our client was to blame for the incident. Prior to trial, Partners Scott Occhiogrosso and Daniel O'Toole recovered a $7 million settlement for the client.
  • $5,500,000 settlement for a 39-year-old delivery worker who was seriously hurt while he was loading furniture into a freight elevator in a Midtown Manhattan commercial building. As he was working, the elevator operator pressed the button to close the interior metal gate. The gate struck our client in the head, neck, and back, causing him to suffer spinal injuries which required surgery. Represented by Partners Jeffrey Block and S. Joseph Donahue, he received a $5.5 million settlement.

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