The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has filed an administrative complaint against Germany-based elevator company thyssenkrupp Access Corp., alleging serious defects that have resulted in the death of one child and serious injury to two others over the past decade. According to the CPSC, thyssenkrupp has refused to issue a recall.
The CPSC alleges several models of thyssenkrupp elevators (yes, the company name is lowercase for some reason) contain a “hazardous gap between the exterior hoistway door and the interior elevator car door or gate.”
The gap is large enough for children to fit inside and the CPSC notes a 2-year-old died in 2017, a 3-year-old was left permanently disabled in 2010, and a 4-year-old was hospitalized after being crushed in a thyssenkrupp elevator in 2019.
“These injuries and deaths are ghastly,” said Acting Chairman of the CPSC Robert Adler said in a statement. “The gaps in residential elevators are truly a hidden hazard for homeowners, and for anyone who is visiting or renting a home with an elevator.”
The elevator models include: Chaparral, Destiny, LEV, LEV II, LEV II Builder, Rise, Volant, Windsor, Independence, and Flexi-Lift.
The administrative complaint is an extraordinary move by the CPSC, which faces tremendous hurdles when it encounters a company that isn’t very cooperative. CPSC notes in its press release that “thyssenkrupp has refused to conduct a voluntary recall of the hazardous residential elevators” and the Commission voted 3-1 to move forward with the complaint.
Section 6B of the Consumer Product Safety Act, added by Congress in 1981, hampers the ability of CPSC to do many things, including issuing a recall without the consent of the company in question. Even the wording of press releases issued in the event of a recall have to be negotiated with a company—a bizarre requirement for a democratic country. That’s presumably why the CPSC has announced an administrative action, rather than a recall, which it’s legally prohibited from doing without thyssenkrupp’s permission.
“CPSC urges consumers to disable or block children’s access to the thyssenkrupp residential elevators to prevent a potential deadly incident,” the government agency said in a statement published online Wednesday.
Both the CPSC and thyssenkrupp did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Thursday but Gizmodo will update this post if we hear back.