Man wins $2 million settlement in Stateline elevator drop |

Man wins $2 million settlement in Stateline elevator drop

by Ryan Hoffman

A man injured when an elevator at a Stateline casino rapidly dropped before coming to a stop has been awarded $2 million.

The decision handed down by a jury in mid-July found that Schindler Elevator Company was negligent and required it to pay $2 million to John Deatherage of California.

Deatherage was riding on an elevator at Harveys Lake Tahoe on July 19, 2014, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court, when the elevator “rapidly dropped before violently coming to a stop.”

Deatherage sued Schindler, the company Harveys had contracted with to perform service and maintenance on the property’s elevators.

It’s unclear if Harveys and its parent company, Caesar’s Entertainment, are still under contract with Schindler — a spokesperson for the Lake Tahoe casino did not respond to an email from the Tribune.

In the complaint, Deatherage’s attorney states the incident caused a painful injury to his back, resulting in “extreme pain to his back, groin and leg,” according to the original complaint. He underwent multiple epidural injections, physical therapy, a spinal fusion surgery and additional medical treatment in an effort to alleviate pain.

His medical expenses at the time of filing the lawsuit totaled more than $142,000. He also suffered “loss of enjoyment of life” and claimed that the Schindler “acted with reckless disregard of human safety.”

A Schindler spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment by the Tribune.

According to information provided by Deatherage’s legal team with Laddey, Clark & Ryan, Schindler was required to perform 24 maintenance checks each year but had only performed five in the year leading up to the incident. Further, repair records showed the elevator frequently broke down in 2014 but Schindler did not identify the cause of the issue.

Records kept by Schindler’s mechanic stated “more troubleshooting” was required, Deatherage’s legal team stated. Despite the note, there were no records of follow-up work being done.

Ultimately the jury sided with Deatherage and awarded him $2 million. In its verdict, the jury did not find Schindler “acted with malice.”

While Schindler has the right to appeal the ruling, it has yet to formally do so, according to court filings and an attorney with the firm that represented Deatherage.