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Unsafe home elevators can trap and kill California children

Before a product reaches a Los Angeles consumer, it passes through many hands. Planners and designers initiate the process. Manufacturing, assembly and packaging may take place in one or more locations. From there, the product is moved through a distributor, a retailer and possibly an installer.

At any point along the line, your purchase could become a defective or dangerous product.

Elevators are commonplace in businesses and commercial buildings but, increasingly, consumers are having them installed in homes. Elevators make upper floors easily accessible for elderly or disabled people and cut down the need to carry items up and down steps. The products aren't inexpensive, but many families find the convenience is worth the cost.

People buy elevators the way they do other things, with the assumption that the product will work properly and safely. A couple bought a home National Wheel-O-Vator swing-door elevator to make getting around the house easier for the husband's elderly mother.

In 2010, the couple's toddler tried to get in the elevator. The 3-year-old boy became caught between the outer, swing door and the elevator's inner door. The child's mother was upstairs and pressed the elevator button. The boy was pulled up and then down along moving car; his neck and head were squeezed almost to the point of suffocation.

The boy, now 6, is a quadriplegic and no longer speaks. He suffered brain trauma in the elevator accident.

The parents learned there had been several instances of children dying in similar swing-door elevator accidents. The family settled out of court over a product liability lawsuit against the elevator maker. The company blamed a subcontractor for inferior installation.

The horrific accident prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to initiate a probe into home elevator safety rules.

Product makers who fail to meet safety standards are negligent. Manufacturers are responsible for the careless mistakes they make that cause harm.

Source: FairWarning, "Elevator Safety Flaws Persist Despite History of Tragic Accidents" Shawn Hubler, Dec. 18, 201 

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