Woman Sues Delaware Fire Department Over Injuries Sustained in Elevator Incident

A woman who was injured while stepping into an elevator has filed suit against a number of parties, including the local fire department. Michele Oliver filed suit against Holiday Inn Express, Delaware Elevator, Inc., and the Lewes Fire Department over an incident that occurred on March 27, 2021.

Oliver claims that while staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, one of the elevators malfunctioned. The malfunction trapped several people inside and led to the response of both Delaware Elevator, Inc., and the Lewes Fire Department. Oliver was injured as she enter the functioning elevator. Quoting from the complaint:

  • During this time frame, Ms. Oliver was advised that the other elevator was operational and when Ms. Oliver began to step into the elevator, she was caused to fall as the elevator floor was not level with the hotel lobby floor.
  • Upon information and belief, Defendant Delaware Elevator, Inc. was responsible for the installation and the maintenance of the elevators.
  • Plaintiff Michele Oliver subsequently stumbled and fell into the elevator and sustained the serious injuries hereinafter set forth.
  • Plaintiff Michele Oliver suffered from injuries including, but not limited to, her neck, back, left shoulder/surgeries, trapezius, left leg/knee/foot, left hip, right hip, right knee, hands/fingers and headaches. Said injuries have resulted in chronic pain and disability which have continued since the accident and may be permanent in nature.
  • As a consequence of her injuries, Plaintiff Michele Oliver has received in the past, and will continue to incur in the future, wage loss and medical expenses for the treatment of her injuries.

The complaint alleges negligence by all three defendants, the fire department, the hotel and the elevator company. It is unclear from the allegations in the complaint whether the elevator floor was simply uneven with the landing causing Oliver to stumble, or whether the fire department or the elevator company may have left a hoistway door open and unguarded.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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