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Women file suit after trapped in runaway elevator

Complaint claims elevator in Irvine Co.-owned building fell more than 10 stories, which injured the two women.

July 22, 2011|By Sarah Peters, sarah.peters@latimes.com

Two women are suing the Irvine Co. and an elevator manufacturer, claiming they were injured while trapped in a runaway elevator that plummeted more than 10 stories, according to a copy of their complaint.

Plaintiffs Janet Hsu and Sufeir Hsu are seeking more than $25,000 in damages in an unlimited civil suit against the Newport Beach-based Irvine Co. and the ThyssenKrupp Elevator Corp.

The Hsus filed their complaint in Orange County Superior Court on June 22, online records show.

The claim says the incident happened in the Irvine Co.-owned high-rise business complex at 1 Park Plaza, Irvine.

The complaint did not note a date for when the accident allegedly happened, but said it happened after 5 p.m.

According to the claim written by Janet Hsu, she and Sufeir Hsu were on their way to the Bank of America home loans center on the second floor.

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The elevator ascended to the 11th or 12th floor, then suddenly dropped out of control to below the first floor, according to the court papers.

"As the elevator rapidly descended, we fell hard on the floor inside the elevator, and the light fixtures like the metal brackets and the glass from the ceiling started falling down, too," Hsu wrote. "We felt awful and frightened inside the falling elevator with objects falling all over us."

"My glasses were knocked off my face and I got cut," Hsu's account continued. "We were bruised, cut, and hurt from the falling objects and the impact of falling to the floor. We couldn't stand back up. We thought we were going to die."

The claim includes expenses for physical and massage therapy, medical expenses accumulated in Taiwan, replaced eye glasses and unspecified amounts for pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Irvine Co. spokeswoman Erin Freeman told the Daily Pilot via email that company policy is to not comment on pending litigation.

"The Irvine Co. is committed to the safety of its tenants and their visitors," Freeman said. "We are vigilant in the maintenance of our equipment and continually reinvest in our properties to ensure they exceed industry quality standards."

Janet Hsu could not be reached for comment Friday.

A spokesman for the California Department of Industrial Relations told the Orange County Register all seven elevators at 1 Park Plaza passed their annual inspections before and after the incident.

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