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Content - Final acquittal of Schindler in tragic elevator death

  • February 05, 2018

Final acquittal of Schindler in tragic elevator death

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – After almost twelve years, Schindler, the Lucerne, Switzerland, based elevator and escalator manufacturer, can finally conclude the case of a fatal elevator accident in Japan once and for all. The Tokyo High Court issued a judgment in the criminal appeal proceedings against a former Schindler Japan employee related to the accident. The judgment reaffirmed the acquittal of the former employee by the court of first instance in 2015. A few months earlier, Schindler Japan had also reached a settlement with the Japanese family of the victim.

Schindler elevator

Lack of maintenance

The tragic accident had occurred in a Schindler lift in Takeshiba on June 3, 2006. A 16-year-old teenager was killed while an elevator started moving with the doors open and got the young man stuck while he was getting out.  

The Tokyo District Court had already come to the conclusion in 2015 that not a faulty design but lack of maintenance by third parties had led to the accident. Schindler Japan itself was not involved in the maintenance of the elevator. But the Japanese Public Prosecutor's Office appealed against the decision.

Schindler now acknowledged the judgment of the Japanese Court of Appeal and said in a statement it was relieved that the former employee of Schindler Japan has also been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Court of Appeal, the company announced.  

Sale of Japan business

The fatal accident became a huge media topic in Japan. As a result, apart from the high costs of litigation, the Japanese subsidiary of Schindler had to withdraw from the new installation elevator market in Japan. In October 2016, it completed the sale of its remaining elevator and escalator business to Otis Japan.  

Compensation for victim’s family

But Schindler had promised to remain in Japan to meet its legal and societal obligations with respect to ongoing legal cases and to take all necessary actions until these are resolved. This promise was kept: In November at a Tokyo District Court, Schindler Japan found an agreement on financial compensation with the victim’s family.  

Although the company believes that there is no legal responsibility, it decided to accept the settlement in consideration of humanitarian reasons and its social position as the manufacturer. It deeply apologized again for the death of the young man. “We will continue to do our best for the safety of our company's elevators in the future”, Schindler Japan said in a statement.  

According to Japanese media reports, some part of the compensation amount is to be paid into a fund for the prevention of elevator accidents. The actual amount of the settlement payment was not disclosed. The victim's family had initially sued Schindler in 2008 for a compensation payment of 250 million yen.    

 

Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ; Photo: Schindler

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