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KING v. HAHN

February 13, 1998

BENJAMIN KING and JOYCE KING, Plaintiffs, against JUDITH EVELYN HAHN, Individually, HELEN K. ROSMAN, Indiv. and as Trustee of the Trusts F/B/O Helen K. Rosman, Barbara Joan Rosman and Judith Evelyn Rosman N/K/A Judith Evelyn Hahn, JACOB IMBERMAN, Indiv. and as Trustee F/B/O Helen K. Rosman and NOVEAU ELEVATOR INDUSTRIES, INC., Defendants. JUDITH EVELYN HAHN, Individually, HELEN K. ROSMAN, Indiv. and as Trustee of the Trusts F/B/O Helen K. Rosman, Barbara Joan Rosman and Judith Evelyn Rosman N/K/A Judith Evelyn Hahn, Third-Party Plaintiffs, - against - GARAGE MANAGEMENT CORP. and NARRAGANSETT PARKING CORP. f/k/a SIDNEY GARAGE, INC., Third-Party Defendants.

Peter K. Leisure, U.S.D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEISURE

LEISURE, District Judge :

 Defendants Judith Evelyn Hahn, individually, and Helen K. Rosman, individually and as Trustee of the Trusts F/B/O Helen K. Rosman, Barbara Joan Rosman and Judith Evelyn Rosman N/K/A Judith Evelyn Hahn (the "Hahn Defendants") move this Court for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated below, the Hahn Defendants' motion is granted.

 BACKGROUND

 The incident that led to this action occurred on October 15, 1991. At that time, the Hahn Defendants owned a parking garage located at 124 East 63rd Street in New York City (the "Garage"). Prior to that date, the Hahn Defendants leased the Garage to third-party defendant Narragansett Parking Corp. ("Narragansett"). Narragansett had an oral agreement with third-party defendant Garage Management Corp. ("GMC") under which GMC managed the Garage.

 The plaintiffs retained an expert, Charles Buckman, to examine the elevator. At his deposition, Buckman described the elevator as a single-speed, manually-operated traction elevator. The elevator has hoistway doors only, meaning that there are doors on each landing and there are no doors on the interior of the elevator. The doors raise vertically at the middle, creating an opening of approximately ten feet by ten feet. Each individual door therefore is approximately five feet high by ten feet wide. The upper door and lower door move in unison; as the upper door rises, the lower door descends the same distance.

 The elevator shaft is not large enough for the doors on successive floors to be completely opened at the same time. For example, if the doors on the first floor were open, and someone opened the doors on the second floor, the lower door on the second floor, if completely opened, would push the upper door on the first floor a few feet back down the shaft, somewhere between fully opened and fully closed.

 An individual may only operate the elevator from the inside. For example, if the elevator is on the third floor, the attendant may not call the elevator from the first floor, but must physically go to the third floor. The hoistway doors were designed to be opened only from the inside of the elevator, in part to prevent individuals from falling down the shaft. An individual, however, could pry open the hoistway doors on the Garage's elevator. Also, the elevator features an interlock system that assures all hoistway doors are closed before the elevator is put into motion. The interlock system at the Garage had been overridden at some point prior to the accident.

 The plaintiffs contend that while King was circling the automobile in order to back it out of the elevator, Cizi simultaneously pried open the elevator doors from the landing on the second floor. This caused the bottom door on the second floor to drive the upper door of the first floor back down the elevator shaft, striking King in the head.

 Buckman estimates that the elevator was installed in the Garage somewhere between 1935 and 1945. He was unable to determine if the interlock system had ever been replaced.

 The lease agreement in force at the time of the accident did not obligate the Hahn Defendants to make any inspections or repairs, but did give the Hahn Defendants the right to enter the premises for those purposes.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Standard for Summary ...


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