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Louisiana family who says they were mangled by that escalator at Back Bay sues, asks that it not be repaired until they can have their own expert examine it

A Louisiana family who lost almost everything in Hurricane Ida who came up here to watch the Saints play the Patriots on Sunday got off a train after the game at Back Bay were on that escalator that suddenly went into reverse, throwing them down and mangling them - they claim in a suit against the MBTA and the company contracted with maintaining the device.

Negligence suits are not normally filed so quickly after an incident, but in their suit, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, Karson and Holly Bethay of Metairie, LA, asked for an emergency order to block the T and Kone, Inc. from touching the escalator until they can have their own expert take a look for any possible evidence. In additional to physical evidence at Back Bay, their attorneys are also seeking access to all of the records the T and Kone have related to the escalator - which the T says Kone had inspected just three weeks earlier. And they ask that their expert be allowed to oversee any repair work following an initial inspection.

According to their complaint, the couple, along with their children Karson, Jr. and Savannah, took an MBTA train to the Patriots/Saints game, which their favorites won, then took the train back to Back Bay. After getting off the train, around 6 p.m.

The escalator malfunctioned while the Bethay family was using the escalator causing all the steps or treads of the escalator to rapidly reverse direction causing them, and numerous other passengers, to slide and fall down to the bottom of the escalator.

The Bethay family sustained multiple injuries as a results of the escalator's malfunction and failure, including multiple fractures of the upper and lower extremities; extensive facial, scalp, head and body lacerations and other injuries.

The Bethay family was transported to the Massachusetts General Hospital where they were admitted on an inpatient basis.

The complaint adds the family is now facing substantial expenses for medical and rehabilitation care, in addition to the pain and anguish the incident caused them.

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Comments

Giarrusso Norton Cooley & McGlone. That's the law firm I want if I ever need to sue someone.

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If Cooley is from the legendary Earl Cooley family and has the same talent as Earl then the family is in THE best hands. I can't wait to watch and read about this case. Rooting for these victims and their lawyers!

People from a state that fully embodies the completely failed condition and function of that escalator sue over the escalator.

Not to say that they don't have grounds to do so ... just ironic.

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There is no irony in the current state of "The Hub of the Universe". The T has been systematically looted for nearly two generations. It is a complete disgrace that a family comes here on vacation and suffers the injuries described in the complaint. Billy Bulger's gang and all the hacks who retired after 23 years are responsible for the diversion of millions from maintenance into the lopsided pension plan.

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If you think the retired employees are enjoying the high life, you have another thing coming. We should want a pension plan like the MBTA, My Dad was a retiree and worked for the T driving the green line, shifting, driving buses out of Quincy Center, in the Everett Shops. He worked for the pension and was able to live on the payout put it was not a lot of money.

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My MIL has outlived much of her retirement funding, but she gets her T pension from her husband's 35 years of service. That plus Social Security is enough to cover her expenses.

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No, no, it isn't. That's not what "ironic" means.

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You can't deny that giggling again for no reason about people falling head over feet down an escalator isn't ironic, it's a lack of empathy.

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giggling again for no reason about people falling head over feet down an escalator

Who giggled?

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Adding insult to injury.

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As somebody who lived in New Orleans for several years, I freely attest that Louisiana is a mess, albeit an oftentimes loveable mess.

That being said, your comment has a whiff of Trump's "shithole countries" comment from several years back--it implies that some places are just fundamentally broken in a way that people from those places might find insensitive.

Hurricane Katrina hit not long after I arrived in the Boston area. For several weeks, while I was busy trying to reestablish contact with my friends in New Orleans to make sure that everybody was okay, I overhead these bon mots from strangers in Cambridge:

  • "A hurricane hit New Orleans? How could they tell?"
  • "They should just bulldoze the place."
  • "New Orleans provides no value to the modern economy. I mean, Jazz?!"

Somehow, I missed the wit in such comments. Even now, a good friend of mine is feverishly working to restore both his house and his office after damage from Ida rendered them uninhabitable. When I asked him what I could do to help him and his family, he asked only that I donate to help those less fortunate then they are (which I promptly did).

I don't mean to be confrontational, but this comment struck a nerve with me.

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is where the previous commenter comes from.

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Where I come from? How so?

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Was referring to the person above who titled her comment ‘Ironic’.

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Louisiana has problems, no disagreement. But it sounds like you just want to kick people who are already down.

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A thousand times yes, man. Thank you. They've got an embattled Democratic governor, and people are trying.

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This isn't some lame trip and fall nonsense. From the descriptions I have read elsewhere of the horrific injuries that some people on that escalator endured, they should be fully compensated. Elevators have fail-safe mechanisms so they can't just drop 30 stories. Why can't escalators have similar fail-safe protections against flying into reverse?

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It's possible that escalators already have that fail-safe protection. It's not as if escalators fly into reverse very often. For all I know, escalators fly into reverse as often as elevators drop 30 stories.

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I fully admit that my data are all anecdotal, but it seems like escalator accidents like this happen every few years, but I have NEVER heard of an elevator crashing to the ground.

Quote from a Mechanical Engineer....

Elevators (in much or most of the world) have fail-safe brakes. The brake shoes are held out of contact by the tension on the lift cables. If the cables break, the brake shoes are forced out into contact with the rails. Both the cables and the brake mechanism would have to fail for an elevator to free fall. This does not mean a combined failure cannot happen and allow free fall but two layers of failure to cause injury are considered adequate safety for many products. This safety brake was invented in 1854 by Elisha Otis, founder of the Otis Elevator Co. which still dominates the market today.

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That mechanical engineer definitely doesn't work for an elevator company. He or she is describing the type of elevator safety mechanism invented in the 1850's that probably hasn't been used in over 100 years.

I don't know anything about escalators but agree the family should be compensated, whatever safety mechanism failed or wasn't in place.

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I thought the MBTA said all the injuries were minor? Picking a jury will be the key to this lawsuit. Its going to be tough for the T lawyers to find a juror who hasn't had a bad experience while riding the MBTA.

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"multiple fractures of the upper and lower extremities; extensive facial, scalp, head and body lacerations and other injuries" happening to children doesn't sound minor to me. If there's permanent disfigurement or incapacity involved, damages will, and should, be in the millions.

There's no way to get around the MBTA's duty of care to these passengers. This is not a "ride at your own risk" escalator. I'd wager it's an escalator the majority of people reading this have gone up.

The judge should stipulate that the MBTA is on the hook for whatever value can be placed on those injuries (and then the MBTA can sue the maintenance company, their insurance company, or whoever else they want), and let the escalator be fixed.

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This term has a wide range of legal definitions. It can be any injury that doesn't require medical attention (which couldn't be the definition they're using, since the stories said people were taken to the hospital for these minor injuries) up through anything that isn't life-threatening.

In my professional life, I've sat through extensive hearings on what constitutes "minor injuries," "life-threatening injuries," and "condition likely to cause lifelong harm." We all know people who have a messed-up tendon in their leg or a back injury or something that never quite goes back to normal. This would be an injury that is lifelong. Does it massively affect quality of life? Probably not. It might, if functioning suddenly changes sometimes or it involves pain. Is it major? Is it minor? Who knows. Would someone be liable for causing it if their equipment massively failed or they allowed someone to do something with complete disregard for industry safety standards? Probably. Should a parent be found to have neglected their kid if the kid sustained it doing a totally normal childhood activity? Most of us don't think so, yet court cases even debating the issue happen more than you might think.

Same deal with the debates that occur as to "life-threatening" -- are we including a simple flesh wound that could have bled out but was easily stopped with first aid? Are we including something that could have easily gotten a massive infection but didn't? Are we including something that got a massive infection but it wasn't apparent, and was treated successfully? Are we including all eating disorders since the statistical rate of death is high? Are we only including really severe cases?

So yeah, people could have something that's not life-threatening, but also doesn't go back completely to normal easily. They certainly have medical bills. And I can tell you that I don't think I'd be emotionally OK after seeing my kids chucked down an escalator in an unfamiliar city.

Some people are sue-happy. This doesn't immediately jump out to me as that.

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Being able to make reasonable judgement based on the facts and evidence presented with prior experience is. I've been inconvenienced by the T on several occasions but I don't believe it would impede my ability to impartially hear the evidence in a case like this.

Of course, I'm not currently a resident of Suffolk County (and have served my civic obligation in the Commonwealth within the last 3 years) so I'm off the hook for sitting on this one.

another reason to not repair things.

"Sorry, we can't fix this broken thing just in case we get sued about it later."

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The MBTA should quickly offer to settle for a reasonable amount so they can quickly fix the escalator.

By reasonable amount I do mean a large amount. A person traveling to Boston should be able to assume the escalators on our transit system are safe. We know better, but that is an embarrassment. Visitors should not have to suffer. People using Back Bay station should not suffer from the escalator not working.

I don't know exactly which elected and appointed officials need to be blamed and I'm not sure exactly where the money should come from (you can raise my taxes; I ride the OL from Malden), but the family absolutely is not the one to blame and should not suffer due to the failures of the MBTA and the Commonwealth.

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Cover the cost to heal their injured bodies.

But what does more than that achieve? It takes even more money from the T, and it does nothing to increase their pressure to be better at maintenance.

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Loss of income as a result of permanent disfigurement and loss of the function of certain parts of your body?

These are all compensator injuries. You think a few skin grafts are going to make that child whole? This family will carry the physical and emotional scars from of this incident for the rest of their lives. Thankfully, the rest of society has decided that these types of injuries are compensable. Compassion is a good thing.

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As compensation for the suffering they are enduring.

The absolute minimum would be covering all medical costs and all costs related to their ruined trip.

Fixing the T is the next step. The first step is to try to fix the damage done as well as possible and that requires far more than just healing bones.

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So a family who "lost almost everything" during Ida 3 weeks ago is already taking a vacation to see a football game? Traveling 1000 miles for a football game seems like an odd choice when you just "lost everything".

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Maybe they'd bought those tickets months ago, long before Ida, as a special treat for the kids, especially after 18 months of pandemic and maybe, after surviving a hurricane, they decided to take that trip, which they'd already financially accounted for, as a breather from what they'd just gone through.

But no, let's assume the absolute worst. Always. About everybody.

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Are my least favorite people.

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