Macy’s to Pay $15M to Girl Injured by Escalator
Nearly three years after a young girl was severely injured on an escalator in New Jersey, Macy’s and an escalator maintenance company have settled a lawsuit against them, agreeing to pay the girl and her family $15 million dollars in damages.
In August 2013, ten-year-old Juliana Valdez was on a back-to-school shopping with her family at the Macy’s in the Garden State Plaza Mall in New Jersey when her right foot became caught in the escalator. By the time a bystander was able to reach the emergency stop button, Valdez’s leg was caught halfway between her right ankle and knee. Valdez was wearing a pair of Converse high-top shoes that were laced and tied at the time of the accident.
The accident resulted in three months of hospitalization and a total of 22 surgeries for Valdez. Doctors were unable to save two of her toes, but through a very extensive series of operations, Valdez is now able to walk again with only a slight limp. Some of the procedures used to save Valdez’s foot were very rarely used and, at the time, had only been used in a few cases around the world to treat patients with very extreme injuries.
The family filed their lawsuit in October 2014 against Macy’s and ThussenKrupp, a company that performed maintenance on the escalators at that Macy’s location. Their suit accused Macy’s of failing to properly maintain the escalator. At the time of the accident, that Macy’s location had been using escalators that were installed in 1958, which actually made them some of the oldest operating escalators in the entire state of New Jersey. Shortly after the accident, the store replaced their escalators and added a safety mechanism to prevent such an accident from happening again.
Earlier in 2013, that Macy’s location was issued a temporary certificate to keep the escalator running despite maintenance being needed following an incomplete inspection . The inspection was not completed because the manager claimed the inspectors were interfering with store operations. That temporary certificate expired on July 31, 2013, just weeks before Valdez’s accident.
Neither Macy’s nor ThussenKrupp admitted to being liable for the accident, but the $15M settlement matched the compensation requested by the family. The attorney representing the family told the press, “I think the settlement can be judged by its size as to whether Macy’s felt culpable in its conduct.”
This was not the first case of this kind to be brought against Macy’s. The attorney representing the Valdez family in their case stated he had found other reports of similar incidents on the exact same escalator at the same Macy’s location in the two years prior to Valdez’s injury. In 2013, the same year Valdez was injured, Macy’s agreed to pay $520,000 to the family of a girl who lost a toe in 2009 while she was riding on an escalator at the Macy’s location in the Paramus Park Mall in New Jersey.