The family of a Food Emporium employee who died in a horrific elevator accident while working at the store has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the building’s owner, Manhattan Plaza, and the elevator company responsible for the faulty machine.
Jeylin Sanchez — whose mother, Food Emporium worker Maria Sanchez, 39, was killed on December 15, 2020, when an employee lift she was using malfunctioned, resulting in severe fatal head injuries — represented the November 28 Her mother’s estate in Bronx County Court on Monday.
Jeylin and Wendy Hernandez, co-managers of Maria Sanchez’s estate, named Food Emporium owner Manhattan Plaza, as well as Liberty Elevator Corporation, Brooklyn Elevator Corporation and Arrow Elevator Inc, as culprits in illegally installing and negligently repairing the machinery that killed Maria.
“On December 15, 2020, and at some time prior thereto, Seven Seas employees, including but not limited to the deceased, were directed, instructed, and/or expected to use lifts to transport produce and/or from the basement to the ground floor and/or other products from the ground floor to the basement,” Sanchez and Hernandez’s attorneys wrote in the court filing, which added: “Defendant Liberty Elevator Co, Inc. caused, allowed, allowed and/or tolerated that the elevator became, Is and/or remains in an unreasonably unsafe, dangerous, hazardous and defective condition and is in a state of disrepair.” The location is operated by Food Emporium Seven Seas 42nd St LLC.
The plaintiffs went on to claim that the elevator operating company failed to register the machines with the Department of Buildings, thereby forgoing critical safety inspections. An initial investigation by the Department of Buildings (DOB) found that the elevator was installed illegally and in violation of the city’s safety inspection policy.
“Unfortunately, working conditions are overlooked when it comes to minorities,” Jeylin wrote in a GoFundMe testimonial. “It’s so tragic that my mum left everything she knew back home to come to this country for a better life, only to lose it while doing so. She worked so hard to give us a place to stay , have food to eat.”
Maria leaves behind three siblings, whom she supports financially, as well as her four children, three of whom are minors. “My mom was amazing,” Jeylin said. “She is hardworking, caring, understanding, open minded, charming, etc. Anyone who has met her knows how fulfilling her life is. Her smile and laugh can brighten anyone’s day. She Not only so strong physically, but mentally as well. That’s what she’s been trying to teach me to do.”
W42ST reached out to the relevant administrators who operate Manhattan Plaza, as well as Liberty Elevator Corporation and Brooklyn Elevator Incorporated for comment on the case, and we will update when we hear back.