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Boston Wrongful Death Lawsuit Seeks Damages For Family of 82-Year-Old Who Was Strangled When Clothing Got Stuck on MBTA Escalator

It’s been eight months since an 82-year-old Dorchester woman died while riding an MBTA escalator. Now, the family of Helen Jackson is suing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for Boston wrongful death. The lawsuit alleges that Jackson died of strangulation when, during a fall accident while riding the escalator, her jacket, scarf, and hair got stuck in the metal machinery.

MBTA officials had implied that Jackson died because she went into cardiac arrest while riding the moving machinery located inside Orange Line’s State Street station. Witnesses, however, say otherwise.

A number of passersby unsuccessfully tried to free Jackson from the escalator, but they could not separate her clothing from the metal. Jackson died at the scene.

According to the family’s Massachusetts wrongful death complaint, a medical examiner found that Jackson’s cause of death was strangulation. She also sustained injuries and blunt trauma.

A state inspection determined that there were no defects with the escalator.

The Boston wrongful death lawsuit accuses the MBTA of failing to monitor the escalator (despite a history of accidents) and neglecting to provide Jackson with the proper medical response.

Also, an emergency call box reportedly did not work properly when someone tried to call for help. And although security cameras showed pedestrians rushing to help Jackson, no MBTA official saw what was happening and did not respond to the emergency.

Escalator accidents
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are about 30 escalator/elevator fatalities a year. Over 17,000 people are injured in these kinds of premises liability accidents. Escalator accidents can be caused by:

• Escalator defects • Poor maintenance • Missing escalator teeth • Escalator malfunction • Screws coming out of the escalator • Too big of a gap between the moving steps and the escalator’s sides • Clothing or shoes getting stuck in the escalator
Also, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission says that the rate of escalator injury has doubled for older adults, with almost 39,800 elderly people injured between 1991 and 2005. Trip and fall accidents and slip and fall accidents were the most common kinds of injury accidents involving the elderly to occur on escalators.

Escalator is cited in death at T station, The Boston Globe, November 3, 2009
Rate Of Escalator Injuries To Older Adults Has Doubled, Science Daily, March 14, 2008

Related Web Resource:
MBTA

Danger On The Escalator, CBS, February 17, 2005