Newspaper article The Canadian Press

ThyssenKrupp Fined 'Really Low' $375,000 after Man's Elevator Injury

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

ThyssenKrupp Fined 'Really Low' $375,000 after Man's Elevator Injury

Article excerpt

ThyssenKrupp fined $375K for elevator mishap


TORONTO - An unapologetic ThyssenKrupp Canada was fined $375,000 on Tuesday, as the prosecution had urged, for a potentially fatal breach of elevator safety laws in which a man was injured.

In passing sentence, Ontario court Judge Mindy Avrich-Skapinker said the Crown's request for the "really low" fine -- well short of the maximum $2 million -- had caught her off guard.

"When I first heard what the Crown was asking, I was totally surprised," Avrich-Skapinker said. "I totally expected the Crown to ask for a significantly higher fine."

The judge said she was more than impressed with the prosecution's "generosity" given ThyssenKrupp's status as a leader in the elevator field and part of a multinational conglomerate that rakes in about $60 billion a year -- about $470 million of that in Canada.

Nevertheless, the judge ultimately decided the $375,000 was "totally fair" and reasonable and gave the company six months to pay.

After a 25-day trial, Avrich-Skapinker found ThyssenKrupp guilty in December of four offences that stemmed from an incident in July 2009, when an elevator in a west-end Toronto condominium plunged just as a man stepped inside, trapping his foot. Horrified bystanders on board were able to pull him in and prevent a worse situation but the man's ankle was severely gashed.

"The person caught in the situation can literally be sheared or cut," Avrich-Skapinker said, adding the public must be able to ride an elevator "without fear of serious injury or even death."

Investigators faulted a badly worn main drive sheave -- a critical part that holds the lift in place -- likely the most serious of elevator hazards. Evidence was that ThyssenKrupp had failed to address the problem despite a request from one of its mechanics to repair or replace the part, and several written and verbal complaints from the building manager.

Two of the four charges were stayed at the Crown's request -- resulting in convictions on two counts.

In arguing for a minimum $50,000 fine on each count, ThyssenKrupp's lawyer tried to portray the Canadian subsidiary as a relatively small player that had already paid a steep price for the mishap -- an argument the judge called "somewhat disingenuous" given its size and reach. …

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