Ohio State University Denies Liability in Elevator Lawsuit

Ohio State University has filed court documents denying liability in an elevator lawsuit that was filed by the family of a freshman who was killed in 2006, after he was crushed while trying to get out of a dormitory elevator that had became stuck between floors.

Andrew Polakowski was among 23 other passengers in the elevator when it became overloaded and the main brake failed. While he was trying to get out of the stalled elevator on the third floor, it suddenly descended with its doors open.

The lawsuit over the elevator accident was filed on January 9, 2009, alleging that Ohio State University was negligent in maintaining, inspecting and operating the elevator.

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Subsequent investigations found that the elevator was not capable of holding the amount of weight it was supposed to, there was no overload warning system or safety device to prevent it from falling while the doors were open, the counter-weight was inadequate and a load-weighing device on the elevator was disconnected.

In their responsive pleadings to the elevator lawsuit, the University has taken the position that the student’s own negligence caused or contributed to his death. They claim that the 18 year old was partially responsible for overcrowding the elevator which caused it to become stuck between floors, and assumed the risk of injury when he decided to ride on the elevator.

Under Ohio law, if a plaintiff’s own negligence is found to be more than 50% responsible for his injury, it is a complete bar to any recovery. However, if the plaintiff’s negligence is 50% or less responsible, the amount of damages would only be reduced in proportion of his negligence. 


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