Jolted: Elevator companies face lawsuits over injuries at two Brickell sites

Elevator lawsuits allege incidents at Brickell City Centre, Brickell Heights condo
By Paul Brinkmann |
Research by Haru Coryne
April 23, 2019 04:30PM

Brickell City Centre’s mall and Brickell Heights (Credit: Wikipedia and Brickell)

Two recent lawsuits filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court allege people experienced sudden drops in elevators at Brickell Heights and Brickell City Centre in Miami, causing injuries.

Thyssenkrupp was sued over an incident at Brickell Heights East Condominium, at 315 South Biscayne Boulevard.

Separately, Otis Elevator and Swire Properties are defendants in a suit that alleges an elevator at Brickell City Centre injured a shopper there.

Neither the city of Miami nor the Florida Department of Professional and Business Regulation tracks the total number of elevator complaints in Miami.

An investigation by The Real Deal in New York found dozens of lawsuits filed every year in New York City over elevator-related incidents, and it’s often difficult to determine who’s at fault when an accident or death occurs. The investigation found lapses by mechanics with little training, and failure by inspectors to identify hazards, address complaints and conduct inspections.

In the Brickell Heights case in Miami, subpoenas are still going out after an amended complaint was filed in the case recently. Two plaintiffs, Dragana Stojanovic and David Sherman of Miami, allege they visited the tower in October 2017 to watch the American League baseball playoff game with a resident there, Glenn Asher.

They left afterward, boarding the elevator on the ninth floor, the lawsuit says.

“While rapidly descending, the elevator suddenly, and without warning to the plaintiffs, violently jolted to a stop – feeling as though the elevator had struck the ground at full speed. The force of the impact caused the Plaintiffs’ legs to buckle, driving them downward toward the floor of the elevator,” according to the suit.

They wound up trapped in the elevator “for several hours,” though the suit does not provide additional details. The two went home and didn’t seek immediate medical attention, but they experienced pain later and sought a doctor, according to the suit.

Thyssenkrupp has filed a formal answer to the suit, stating that third parties altered the equipment or were negligent, and that it is not contractually liable for the damages. It also accuses Stojanovic and Sherman of failing to be “aware of their surroundings.” A spokesman for the company declined further comment. The suit also names Brickell Heights East Condominium Association as a defendant.

In the Brickell City Centre case, area resident Gustavo Aguilar alleges he was at the Swire Properties-owned mall on May 17, 2017, “when the elevator suddenly and without warning began to free-fall at a high velocity before abruptly stopping, causing the Plaintiff to become injured,” according to the suit.

Aguilar’s lawsuit, originally filed in December, alleges he was hospitalized for injuries.

Otis has filed a formal answer, stating similar defenses to Thyssenkrupp’s in the Brickell Heights case: that it had no knowledge of any problem with the elevator and that the plaintiff was also negligent.

Swire Properties hasn’t filed an answer yet. A spokesperson for Swire said via email that “The safety and well-being of our guests is always the top priority. Our elevators are regularly tested and maintained according to industry-best standards and applicable law.”