University Pays $1 Million to Elevator Malfunction Death Case

elevator.gifOn October 20, 2006, Andy Polakowski, a freshman at Ohio State, was in the dorm elevator with 23 other students when it stopped on the third floor. As Andy tried to step off the elevator, it suddenly descended, pinning him between the ceiling of the elevator and the third floor. Tragically, he was pinned in the torso area, and died almost immediately. He was only 18 and left behind his parents and three sisters.

As a result of his death, Andy’s parents brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Ohio State alleging that the school was negligent in the inspection and maintenance of the elevator, creating the conditions that allowed the brakes to fail, and killing Andy. The university, in turn, filed cross complaints against several companies involved in the installation and maintenance of the subject elevator. According to reports, inspection of the elevator revealed that it had a faulty brake, an inadequate counterweight, and no overloading alarm system. It also didn’t have a safety device to prevent sudden descents, something that is apparently required on modern elevators.


After three years of litigation, Ohio State has agreed to pay the family $1 million to settle the lawsuit, with contributions made by all of the cross-defendants. No defendant admitted liability in the case, but the tragedy caused Ohio State to inspect all elevators on the campus, several of which were upgraded to include the safety equipment that was absent on the elevator in Andy’s dorm building.

Source: Columbus Dispatch

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