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Family Files Suit After Toddler Loses Two Fingers on Escalator

Photograph by Twenty20

A Salt Lake City mom was buying groceries at the self-checkout stand located on the second floor of Smith's Marketplace when she heard her daughter scream. Silvia Zamora ran around the register and found her 3-year-old, Adalene, at the bottom of the nearby escalator "surrounded by a pool of blood," according to a lawsuit filed by the family concerning the September 20, 2017, accident.

The suit states that the mom quickly descended the escalator and saw that Adalene's middle and ring fingers on her left hand were severed just below the middle knuckles. The mom also saw blood where the escalator step met the landing comb plate. Apparently, the toddler had gotten her fingers stuck inside a hole of the plate where there were missing pieces of comb-like teeth.

"Despite the amputation of two fingers and despite the fingers being caught in the comb plate and/or other escalator components, the escalator safety switch(es) did not engage and the escalator was still operating," the lawsuit states.

The escalator kept operating until a Smith's employee stopped it. The escalator comb plate was lifted, and the toddler's amputated fingers were retrieved and placed into a baggie.

The toddler had gotten her fingers stuck inside a hole of the plate where there were missing pieces of comb-like teeth.

The suit states that Adalene, who was rushed to the hospital but couldn't get her fingers reattached, "will continue to sustain non-economic damages, including, without limitation, pain and suffering, severe emotional distress and mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life and other non-economic damages as recoverable by law."

The family is suing Smith's and the escalator manufacturer, Schindler Elevator Corp., and seeking unspecified damages to be determined at trial, claiming the companies failed to properly maintain and inspect the escalator. Zamora's attorneys say that Smith's certificate of inspection and permit to operate escalators expired 17 days before Adalene's fingers were severed, and the escalator had not been in compliance with Utah's elevator laws for nearly two years before the accident. A September 2015 letter from the Division of Boiler and Elevator Safety warned Smith's to replace all broken comb teeth on the entrance and exit of the escalator and to repair caution signs.

According to the Associated Press, "Schindler Elevator Corp. said ... it regrets when anyone is hurt on its machines, but deny that the escalator malfunctioned or that there were any missing pieces involving their maintenance of it." A Smith's representative said the company doesn't comment on active legislation.

In 2014, a Portland, Oregon, family filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against the management company of Washington Square mall and escalator company, ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corp., after their 2-year-old boy fell and caught his fingers in the escalator's moving parts and got his middle finger severed. ThyssenKrupp was also one of the parties sued in 2013 after a New Jersey girl's leg became trapped in a Macy's escalator (the family, Macy's and ThyssenKrupp reached a $15 million settlement in 2016).

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