United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MABLE S. JONES, Plaintiff,
SCHINDLER ELEVATOR CO., et al, Defendants.
F. KENNEY, J.
Introduction & Background
alleges that "[o]n the morning of January 12, 2017, at
Bloomingdales Willow Grove location, [she] suffered serious
and permanent injuries as the result of the malfunction of
the 'up' escalator between the second and third
floors of the store." Compl. ¶ 3. More
specifically, Plaintiff testified that while riding on the
escalator with her granddaughter, who was in a stroller
straddled across multiple escalator steps, when she was
"somewhere between half way and two-thirds up," the
hem of her left "pant leg became caught between the
steps and that should not have happened." Mable Dep. Tr.
56:3-9, 56:14-16, 56:17-21, 106:7-11, 111:13-18. As a result,
Plaintiff testified that the tugging on her pants hem caused
her to fall. Id. at 61:21-62:10. Plaintiff did not
recall looking down to see where the hem of her pants was
caught. Id. at 62:16-19. After Plaintiff fell, she
was helped by a Bloomingdales employee, continued to shop for
approximately twenty minutes using the elevator to travel to
the third floor and then back down again, and then left the
store. Id. at 119:3-120:2. Plaintiff claims that
consequently, she suffered a concussion, which is
"supported by her medical record and her treating
physician." ECF No. 58 at ¶ 14. However, Plaintiff
does not cite to any document of record to support the
occurrence of this injury or the diagnosis thereof.
testified that while riding the escalator, she did not
observe anything out of the ordinary about the movement of
the escalator. Id. at 73:9-15. Indeed, it was not
operating at an excessive speed, it was not jerking or
shaking, it was not lurching, and it was not stopping or
starting suddenly. Id. at 73:16-24. In fact, the
escalator was operating the same way it had operated on all
of Plaintiff s previous occasions riding that escalator.
Id. at 74:1-5. Those observations by Plaintiff
herself are supported by the routine daily escalator
inspection log completed by Bloomingdales employees for the
escalator in question. ECF No. 47-1 at p. 62.
Plaintiff having reported the day after the accident that it
was her sneaker that caught in the escalator step that
caused her to fall, Plaintiff testified that it was in fact
her pant hem that caught on the escalator that caused her to
fall. Id. at 82:8-10, 83:24-84:2. Plaintiff
testified that her pants hem did not extend below the sole of
her shoes, but that they did not end above her ankle either.
Id. at 57:14-58:19. In her words, "[t]hey did
not drag on the floor, and they were not high waters."
Id. at 58:8-9.
testified that she was unaware of which part of her hem
caught on the escalator. Id. at 56:17-21. (A:
"My hem. The hem. I can't speculate whether it was
the front or the back or the side. I don't know. It just
caught"). Further, Plaintiff never observed any damage
to the hem of the left leg of her pants following the
accident. Id. at 57:10-13. Defendants requested the
production of the pants Plaintiff was wearing the day of the
accident, but Plaintiff testified that she "would need
to look for them" in order to produce them and did not
know whether even if produced, Defendants would be able to
observe any damage to the pants. Id. at 57:6-9
("But it's not as though I've examined them or
seen them since this happened, and it's been almost two
years. It's been over two years. I would need to look for
them."); at 56:22-57:3.
also testified that sitting at her deposition she did not
know whether there was anything about the operations of the
escalator that was a "malfunction." Id. at
56:10-13. She stated that she did not recall looking down to
see where on the escalator the hem of her pant was caught,
only that she "felt the tug. That is what informed me
that there was a pulling on my hem." Id. at
61:21-62:19. In essence, Plaintiff could not explain in her
deposition how the pant leg "became trapped between two
escalator steps." Id. at 66:6-9. Indeed, when
asked what the defective condition of the escalator was as
claimed in the Complaint, Plaintiff said "[t]he
condition that caused my pant leg to be caught."
Id. at 71:4-8; at 71:9-17 ("Q: You've
already told me that you don't know what that condition
was because you're not sure where your pant leg was
caught; is that correct? A: That is correct. However, my pant
leg was caught. So it follows then that there was something
abnormal about the escalator or my pant would not have been
caught."); at 71:18-21; 72:1-5 ("Q: Basically what
you're saying is that since your accident happened, you
think there's something wrong with the escalator; is that
a fair summary of your belief? ... A: The fact that the
accident happened; the fact that my pant leg was caught; then
it follows that there was something wrong with the - yeah, I
think that speaks for itself. I agree. That's my
position, yes."); at 73:3-8 ("Q: Do you know what
type of maintenance was required on that type of escalator?
A: Only that it was not adequate to prevent my fall. If it
had been adequate, then I would not have fallen.").
recognizes that she does not know anything about the design
or maintenance of escalators. Id. at 67:8-11; at
68:20-69:3 ("Q: Do you have any knowledge of whether the
space or clearance between one step and another step, and the
space or clearance between the step and the side skirts of
the escalator on the day of you accident exceeded the
clearance specified in the national elevator safety code? A:
I have no such knowledge."); at 69:4-9 ("Q: Do you
have any knowledge of what the clearance specified by the
escalator designer for the space between one step to another
and the space between step and the side skirt was at the time
of installation? A: I have no such knowledge.").
admits that before this accident happened, she was aware that
she was not supposed to take strollers on escalators, but she
did not remember noticing the signage by the entrance to the
escalator advising that strollers should not be taken on the
escalator. Id. at 127:4-129:6. Indeed, she testified
that before this accident happened, she did not think that
she had ever taken the stroller on the escalators either at
Bloomingdales or at any other location. Id. at
upon those stated facts, Plaintiff filed suit in Philadelphia
County Court of Common Pleas against Schindler Elevator
Corporation ("Schindler"), Bloomingdales, Inc.
("Bloomingdales"),  and Broadspire Services, Inc.
("Broadspire") alleging claims for "strict
liability - defect in design - product liability"
against all Defendants claiming that they maintained,
installed, and assembled the escalator, which had an
unspecified defect from the date of installation (Count I);
"negligent design and/or maintenance - product
liability" against all Defendants claiming that they
were negligent in design, manufacture installation, and
maintenance (Count II); and "strict liability -
abnormally dangerous activity - products liability"
against Bloomingdales and Broadspire based on those
Defendants' alleged maintenance of the escalator (Count
III). ECF No. 1 at p. 22.
and Bloomingdales moved to remove the case to this Court
thereafter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and
1446(a). ECF No. 1 at p. 9. Broadspire consented to the
removal of this action, and this Court later dismissed the
claims as against Broadspire. Id.; ECF No. 19.
Standard of Review
the summary judgment stage, facts must be viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a
'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott
v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
As the Supreme Court has emphasized "[w]hen the moving
party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent
must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts .... Where the record taken as
a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for
the nonmoving party, there is no 'genuine issue for
trial.'" Id. (quoting Matsushita Elec.
Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the
parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be
no genuine issue of material fact." Id.
(quotation and citation omitted). "When opposing parties
tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly
contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could
believe it, a court should ...