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Ontario man sues elevator company for $25,000 over fall from elevator
that stopped too high
The Canadian Press
14 April 2017
A Toronto man
is suing his condo board and an elevator company for $25,000 because he
fell getting off an elevator that opened before it was flush with the
floor. Postmedia files
Toronto—A retiree who says he hurt his leg after tumbling from a
malfunctioning elevator in his downtown condominium is suing one of the
world’s largest elevator companies for negligence.
In his unproven statement of claim before Ontario Superior Court,
Kenneth Smookler seeks $25,000 in compensation from Schindler Elevator
and his Toronto condo corporation for what he alleges was their failure
to maintain the device properly.
allegedly abandoning proper
Schindler, Smookler’s claim asserts, failed to recognize that a mishap
was all but inevitable given the deteriorating condition of the
elevators, and was grossly negligent in allegedly abandoning proper
maintenance in favour of increasing profits and “deliberately bidding
lower and lower for elevator repair contracts” to undercut its
“As a result of these practices, Schindler was required either to
reduce the number of its staff available for servicing its existing
clients or, alternatively, requiring such staff to service an
increasing number of its clients each month.”
claims Schindler Elevator neglected proper service and maintenance in
order to drive down costs and outbid competitors. Hector
The alleged incident occurred in July last year when Smookler, 87, was
on his way down to the condo’s swimming pool carrying items including a
towel and flotation device when he says the elevator stopped about 25
centimetres above the floor. Smookler says he didn’t notice the
elevator wasn’t level with the floor and “pitched forward” as he
stepped out, landing with his entire weight on his surgically replaced
He developed severe pain in his leg and foot due to infection in the
joint, and ongoing complications caused by the alleged incident might
mean more surgery, he says.
Smookler accuses Schindler of “callous and outrageous behaviour in
putting its pursuit of profits ahead of its duty to prevent the
endangerment of the people” who use elevators the company services.
Schindler blames the resident and/or the condo corporation
In its statement of defence, Schindler denies any wrongdoing. Instead,
it blames Smookler for any injuries he sustained, or the condo
corporation for not alerting the company if indeed the elevator was
The Toronto-based company—part of a Swiss multinational—says it
fulfilled its servicing-contract obligations by having qualified
technicians do regularly scheduled maintenance and inspections. The
elevator met safety standards and was in proper working condition at
the time, the company says.
If Smookler was hurt as he maintains, Schindler says he was the “author
of his own misfortune” in that he “failed to take care for his own
safety,” was “inattentive” or was carrying items that obscured his
He moved from a position of safety to a
position of danger when he knew, or ought to have known, that it was
not safe to do so
“He moved from a position of safety to a position of danger when he
knew, or ought to have known, that it was not safe to do so,” the
company says in its filings. “(He) knew or ought to have known that his
ability to maintain a proper lookout or balance was impaired by reason
of illness, fatigue, poor health, medication and/or intoxication.”
The condo says nothing happened but if it did it was the resident's or Schindler's fault
For its part, Metropolitan Condominium Corporation 590 denies anything
happened to Smookler, but says if something did happen and he was hurt,
it was either his or Schindler’s fault. Among other things, the condo
argues the company failed to properly monitor, inspect and maintain the
elevator or use “competent” maintenance personnel.
incident reported just last month
Ontario’s elevator-safety regulator, the Technical Standards and Safety
Authority, said the property manager only reported the incident last
month because she mistakenly believed Schindler had already done so.
In January, an Ontario judge fined Schindler $80,000 for safety
violations related to an elevator incident at a hotel in Toronto in
2013. Among other things, investigators found the supporting cables had
snapped and the company had done no regular maintenance as required.
Schindler blamed a clerical error for its various failures.
The bill passed second reading in the
provincial legislature Thursday
A Canadian Press investigation last year revealed widespread problems
across the country with elevator reliability. An Ontario politician is
trying to shepherd a bill into law that would set standards for getting
out-of-service elevators running. The bill passed second reading in the
provincial legislature Thursday.
In addition, serious injuries related to elevators have been increasing
by eight per cent annually, the provincial regulator has reported.