“I think the jury thought MARTA and Schindler were ganging up on ESI,” Fried said. “MARTA, in its opening statements, for the first time accepted responsibility – while a week before in a court filing it was not accepting responsibility. Then MARTA said there is somebody here who is not accepting the responsibility (Elevator Specialists)."
Attempts to reach MARTA officials for comment on maintenance on its 149 escalators were unsuccessful. In March, MARTA said it spent approximately $1 million on an escalator safety review, including inspections and repairs, after dismissing Elevator Specialists as its escalator contractor. MARTA said the contractor had intentionally bypassed safety controls on an escalator in the Dunwoody rail station.
In 2008, a jury awarded $525,000 to another MARTA patron who said her neck was broken when a Peachtree Center station escalator sped up and ran wildly forward, dumping riders onto the platform in 2003.
"The verdict was a wake-up call to Schindler, who still has the contract to make sure this never happens again and to MARTA to make sure there is adequate oversight over its contractors," Goldberg said.