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Notice of one defect in elevator mechanics is insufficient to prove notice of other defects, leading to summary judgment for defendants.

July 1, 2017
McDaid v. Aztec West Condo. Ass’n, 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 825 (App. Div. April 5, 2017)

The plaintiff sued a condominium association and elevator maintenance company after a defective “electric eye” (used to detect people and objects in the doorway of the elevator) allegedly caused the plaintiff to be struck by the elevator doors, causing injury. The plaintiff argued that the defendants had notice of the electric eye’s malfunction because, just weeks prior, he had alerted the defendants that the “closing speed” of the doors was improper. The plaintiff also argued that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied. The Appellate Division found that the plaintiff’s expert failed to link concerns regarding door speed with defects found in the electric eye; therefore, notice of closing door speed issues did not necessarily constitute notice of a possible electric eye issue. Additionally, the elevator company’s principal testified that he had never seen this kind of defect before and, therefore, had no notice of its existence prior to the accident. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s res ipsa loquitur argument, finding that the doctrine does not apply where a device such as an electric eye could be “subject to failure from time to time totally unrelated to negligence.” The court’s holding emphasizes, among other things, the importance of proper recordkeeping of complaints by specifically identifying defects as they arise. 


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2017

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