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Tourists sue Crocs footwear, Waikiki hotel over escalator injury

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    In this 2007 photo, a four-year-old Virginia boy poses for a picture with his injured foot after his Crocs shoe got caught in an escalator.

A Texas couple is suing footwear maker Crocs and a Waikiki resort after their 2-year-old son’s foot got caught in an escalator while the family visited Hawaii for an oral surgeon convention.

The lawsuit says the Crocs shoes were “negligently and improperly designed,” while the Hilton Hawaiian Village was also negligent in maintaining the escalator’s safety.

According to the lawsuit, the escalator tore off an extensive section of skin from the toddler’s left foot, requiring emergency surgery.

Flora Kim and David Kang, of Dallas, were attending the annual meeting of the American Association of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons in September 2014 with their son. Their lawsuit said they were leaving the convention’s opening ceremony in a resort ballroom when the boy’s foot became entangled and sucked into a space between a step and the sidewall of the escalator.

“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,” said the lawsuit, initially filed in Hawaii state court in June but transferred to federal court this week.

The boy’s foot was trapped for nearly an hour before a rescue team arrived with proper equipment. He spent two days at Honolulu hospital after emergency surgery and received additional medical care in Texas. The boy had two more surgeries — one to repair skin on his injured foot and one due to complications from the skin graft site, the lawsuit said.

Crocs policy is not to comment on pending litigation, company spokesman Patrick Rich said in an email Thursday. Hilton representatives didn’t immediately return messages Thursday.

Crocs knew as early as 2008 that children suffered severe injuries when the shoes got trapped in small spaces on escalators, the lawsuit said.

According to reports appearing across the United States and as far away as Singapore and Japan, entrapments occur because of two of the biggest selling points of shoes like Crocs: their flexibility and grip. Some report the shoes get caught in the “teeth” at the bottom or top of the escalator, or in the crack between the steps and the side of the escalator.

The reports of serious injuries have all involved young children.

The boy was holding his mother’s hand while they rode the escalator, the family’s Dallas lawyers said. The escalator severed tendons and muscles and broke bones. “In essence, his foot was completely crushed and destroyed,” one of their lawyers, Leslie Chaggaris, said. There’s concern there’s permanent damage to his foot and growth plate, she said, adding that the child had night terrors for many months afterward.

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  • Yup, your negligence in supervising your child + any footwear really, + escalator, = basically self inflicted injury, = Mega Buck Law Suit Jackpot.

  • So these surgeon(s) buys shoes that are “negligently and improperly designed” for a 2 year old and lets him ride an escalator with it on knowing that it is an accident waiting to happen? Next time use the stairs.

  • Well good for them the accident happened here in Hawaii with all of our blood sucking money hungry lawyers and sue friendly courts. Somebody’s gonna get paid.

  • Sorry for the kids foot. But the parents should be held responsible for ensuring their kid gets on the escalator safely. All escalators are the same. Bet the ones in Texas are the same.

    • Did any of you read this? The grips in the bottom of the shoe, get stuck in the “teeth” of the escalator. The child was not “un-supervised”, he was holding his mother’s hand when the bottom of the shoes got stuck in the slots of the surface of the escaltor step! Croc’s knew about the deficient design, and has done nothing to change it. This is how products get fixed nowadays, due to some corporations that don’t take responsibility! Not the child!!! And by the way, most children walk at two! Are you saying it would be better for the child to get on the escalator barefoot???? Come on people. Have you lost all of your compassion?

  • I think most people understand how escalators work, especially college-educated parents. I really do feel sorry for the boy, but sometimes stuff happens — which is why escalators have warning signs (which most people ignore). I agree with pretty much all the other posters, that we (and Hawaii in particular) are sue-happy and eager to award excessive amounts of money to anyone who gets hurt. Maybe it makes us feel like a special, caring person to give away someone else’s money?

  • How do they figure the hotel is responsible? All escalators are built with that space at the edge. Why weren’t the parents more aware of their surroundings? Why was the toddler not between them on the escalator as most intelligent caring parents have their keiki? Just another reason I have no respect and dislike the State of Texas(s) and the people that bring their “the world revolves around Texas” attitude wherever they go.

    • Agree with you. In fact, I would’ve been carrying the child, not letting him stand on the moving parts. If older people had gotten their feet caught before, you would think these “surgeons” would be more smart, but, I guess not. Or, maybe they never rode escalators before.

  • All these negative comments regarding the family when you don’t have the facts. For all that we know, the escalator at the Hilton was improperly maintained. And there may be a safety problem with the Crocs’ shoes.

  • Stores with escalators know that Crocs are dangerous. Every store/mall/building with an escalator will tell you that accidents like this one happen frequently. Crocs are made with an especially pliable rubber that is very easily sucked into the escalator’s sides. The Crocs company is aware of this problem but will not let stores put up signs warning people about how dangerous they are to wear on escalators. Please do not buy your children Crocs.

      • Mr. Luke, I’ve been wearing the same pair of Crocs daily for at least five years. They soles are wearing out, but I’ve never tripped over them. Yeas, I’ve worn them on escalators, too. The tread pattern is side-to-side, not front-to-rear, like my Ho Chi Minh sandals. For the amount of wear Ive gotten from them, they’re worth the price.

  • I would bet large sums of money that the kid was playing around on the escalator and his parents weren’t paying attention to him and just letting him do it. As an attorney, I’ve been involved with a number of escalator lawsuits. EVERY SINGLE ONE of them involved a child horsing around AND a parent or supervising adult who was not paying attention to the child.

  • There are many unknown factors involved here. In 2012, the state adopted the latest elevator and escalator national codes, which mandate some pretty stiff safety requirements for escalators. This code also eliminated “grandfathering” older units, which would force owners to either retrofit or replace. Skirt deflection testing, running clearances, friction reducing applications, a minimum level of safety devices, and other upgrades became required for continued permitting. Signage cautioning against slippers, holding children’s hands, and other suggestions are supposed to be located next to every unit as well. All that being said, even if a unit was fully compliant, it’s still a moving piece of machinery, and placing a small super grippy croc against the skirt of a running escalator is very likely to cause a problem. Was this unit in this store fully compliant? With a current operating permit? All questions yet to be answered.

  • Much likelier to recover from Croc than from HHV since Croc apparently knew of the issue and failed to do anything to mitigate it. The bar’s higher for HHV — doubt the plaintiffs will prevail if the escalator’s placarded and has been inspected according to regs.

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