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It is nearly impossible to imagine life without the convenience of elevators. They are present every public building higher than one story tall. Many elevators are capable of climbing dozens of floors to the top of the highest sky scrapers. Some elevators are equipped to handle large groups of people or very heavy equipment.

As with all manufactured products, elevator producers, installers and designers run the risk of liability in the event that an elevator malfunctions and causes injury to people or property. Plaintiffs could bring a case under strict liability, premises liability or simple negligence. In any event, elevator companies must be prepared for the inevitable lawsuits that will arise when an elevator defect leads to the injury or death of riders.

Two women in the Irvine area have filed a lawsuit against elevator maker ThyssenKrupp and the building owner Irvine Company. The plaintiffs were riding an elevator at 11 Park Plaza when they were suddenly trapped inside for over one hour. Public records show that Orange County authorities quickly rushed to the scene and there was no recorded lapse in time between the emergency call and arrival by responders.

The plaintiffs waited until the last day before the statute of limitations was set to run out. In California, plaintiffs have two years from the date of injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. Once the two-year limit has run out, the case is forever barred from justice.

The Irvine Company reminded all that they are devoted to the safety of everyone in their building and declined to comment further, pending litigation.

Plaintiffs are seeking just under $21,000 in medical and therapy costs. According to the plaintiffs complaint, “We entered the elevator, and I (Janet) pressed the button for the 2nd floor; instead, it passed the 2nd floor and continued ascending until the 11th or 12th floor. Then all of a sudden, the elevator started to fall. As the elevator rapidly descended, we fell hard on the floor inside the elevator, and the light fixtures like the metal brackets and glass from the ceiling started falling down, too.”

All elevators in the Irvine Building are up to date on inspections and maintenance for the year 2011, according to public records. The plaintiffs declined medical treatment on scene but were unable to drive home after the incident due to anxiety and agitation.