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Huge Victory! CPSC Issues First-Ever Recall For Home Elevators!

As reported yesterday by the Washington Post, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted earlier this week to issue its first-ever safety recall for residential elevators (link to article).  The recall was by agreement with one of the major manufacturers of home elevators, Otis Elevator Co.  Most voluntary recalls are not voted on by the CPSC, but this one was (4-0 to approve) and is serving as the basis for further investigation into other elevator accidents involving different manufacturers.  As part of the voluntary recall, Otis is offering free repairs to certain elevators it manufactured to repair a design flaw that allowed for children to become entrapped between the doors of home elevators.

The CPSC was first warned about the risk of entrapment through CKF’s efforts and as part of a lawsuit we filed on behalf of our clients, Jacob Helvey and his parents, as well as through the lawsuit we filed on behalf of the Hartz family.  In our efforts to expose this safety issue, we previously filed a petition for a recall with the CPSC, flew to D.C. several times to argue our case, and have and continue to represent families whose kids have been catastrophically injured or killed in home elevator accidents.

As reported last year by the Post in its ongoing investigation, the elevator industry has known about the entrapment problem for more than 70 years and was also fully aware of the simple $100 – $200 fix, but did nothing. Corporate memos going back to at least 1943 highlighted the hazard. Instead of taking action, the elevator industry has continually resisted pressure from the CPSC, and until Otis’s recent acquiescence, continue to downplay the known dangers.

For the last seven years, our law firm has advocated for a nationwide recall of home elevators. While the recent recall only applies to roughly 5,000 home elevators out of the hundreds of thousands that still pose a risk to children, this is a huge victory and a monumental step towards forcing the elevator industry as a whole to finally do what is right and make home elevators safe.  As our client Brandi Helvey told the Post, “This is great news. This will definitely put pressure on the other manufacturers to do the right thing.”  That is our hope, as alongside our clients, we continue the fight in our efforts for a national recall to stop these tragedies, once and for all.

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