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Flora Kim and David Kang, of Dallas, Texas were enjoying the annual meeting of the American Association of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki September 2014 with their son. That was until the boy's foot got caught in an escalator at the resort, tearing skin from his leg and requiring emergency surgery.
Now the parents are suing Crocs, claiming that the shoes the boy was wearing at the time were "negligently and improperly designed," and that the company knew about the risk to children wearing their shoes on escalators.
According to the lawsuit, Crocs was aware that children had suffered severe injuries when their rubbery, oblong shoes got trapped in small spaces on escalators as far back as 2008. There are worldwide reports of the shoes getting caught in the "teeth" at the bottom or top of the escalator or the crack between the steps and the side of the escalator, and almost all of the serious injuries have involved young children.
The lawsuit claims the boy was holding his mother's hand while they rode the escalator, and the machine severed tendons and muscles and broke bones when it trapped his foot in the space between a step and the sidewall of the escalator. "In essence, his foot was completely crushed and destroyed," said Leslie Chaggaris, one of the family's lawyers.
"Eventually a bystander was able to activate an emergency stop button, but not until (the boy) had traveled almost the entire distance between floors while his foot was painfully trapped in the moving escalator," the suit alleges. The boy spent two days at a Honolulu hospital after emergency surgery and received additional surgeries at home in Texas.
The parents have also named the Hilton resort in the lawsuit, claiming the hotel negligently maintained the escalator's safety. Under premises liability, property owners are responsible for ensuring things like escalators are working properly. And because they're designed to transport people, some courts have upheld a high standard of safety for owners and operators of escalators.
If you've been injured on an escalator, or due to a poorly designed product, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. Many are happy to offer a free consultation.