Douglas W. Townsend, Ph.D., PE ::::
Case Synopsis: Plaintiff stepped through a doorway onto a fire escape on the floor above a neighborhood bar and grill. The fire escape railing opposite the door gave way and she fell into a concrete sidewalk and suffered paralyzing injuries. Some time before the incident, a four-foot section had been sawn out of the fire escape railing to facilitate removing a pay-for-play pool table from the building. Police photographs taken on the night of the incident showed pieces of rope tied to all four corners of the standing part of the fire escape where the section of the railing had fallen out. These photographs were taken from too great a distance from the railing to show if there were any broken welds. The bar owner and pool table owner asserted that the section of the railing had been welded back into place prior to the accident. Following the accident, the sawn out section of the railing had been welded back into position before the railing was examined by experts.