Negligence? Woman Gets Stuck In Automatic Gate

Since we have discussed Plaintiffs’ conduct in class, I thought this video would offer a useful point of analysis. Is this negligence by the security guard?

In the video, the guard hits the close button on the gate but then walks away before it is completely closed. One could argue that it is negligence not to wait for the door to be fully closed. However, it is an overt danger that the woman has completely ignored. Thus, even if there were negligence, there would be a strong argument of contributory negligence. It is actually sort of a challenge to get caught in a slow-moving automatic door.

Obviously, in a contributory negligence jurisdiction where even one percent of contributory negligence bars recovery, she would be barred. There is always the chance that she could claims to be an “inattentive plaintiff” under the last clear chance doctrine, but this requires that the defendant knew she was inattentive.

Now, assuming that we are in a comparative negligence jurisdiction (which includes virtually all states), is the woman more than fifty percent at fault? In a modified comparative negligence state, that would bar her from any recovery.

What percentage of responsibility would you place on the woman? In a pure comparative negligence jurisdiction, her award (if granted) would be reduced by her fault.

33 thoughts on “Negligence? Woman Gets Stuck In Automatic Gate”

  1. did she turn because someone was talking to her? “you’ve got my uniform!”

    she put that bag down,was it “I’ll leave it here for you, catch you later”

    was there any other designated pedestrian way out?

    she is an adult but if you google automatic gates there are a lot of kids caught in this situation who simply get crushed to death. image isn’t all, I tried to find more info but couldn’t find a backstory…

  2. After reading Zari’s post, I took another look in slo-mo and I see her glancing over her left shoulder at the moving door as she’s talking to whomever and then placing the bag in the the corner and attempting to move thru the doorway without checking again … 23-25 … the only thing that would have saved her from her own misjudgement was an electric eye because even the guard couldn’t have moved fast enough to save her from herself … she still would have been injured as it was almost a “perfect storm” in timing.

  3. It looks to me like the woman could have gone through completely and safely, but stops, looks back, then leaves a plastic bag on top of two items to the right of the door — not a garbage disposal point, I think. And immediately, two colleagues (?) are there to help, the one woman assisting knows exactly where the open/stop button is. Something looks, to me, really wrong about this.

  4. Did the guard know that the door would crush anyone who attempted to block it open? If so, wouldn’t he have an obligation to be more attentive?

  5. In the video, the guard hits the close button on the gate but then walks away before it is completely closed. One could argue that it is negligence not to wait for the door to be fully closed. However, it is an overt danger that the woman has completely ignored. Thus, even if there were negligence, there would be a strong argument of contributory negligence. It is actually sort of a challenge to get caught in a slow-moving automatic door.
    ———————————–
    Why is it an overt danger that was ignored? That implies knowledge of the danger. She looks like she had every understanding that this door would stop. Her behaviour is exactly like mine in an elevator situation while holding the door for slower companions to catch up. I live in Florida where there are lots of ‘slow’ gates. This one aint so slow….and I don’t see a sign saying that the gate does not stop…which is also de riguer here in Florida. Or that pedestrians should use a different exit…which in my mind is the real danger…that of confusing pedestrian paths with those meant for vehicles. The world is changing in a very physical way and I don’t think it is too much to ask that people be kept in mind as those changes are being wrought.

    The ‘guard’ was not very guardfull….

  6. “What percentage of responsibility would you place on the woman?”

    60-70%; as blhlls alluded to, behavior of expecting automatic doors to reverse themselves after encountering resistance is reinforced daily by elevators and subways etc.

  7. Watching her, it looks like she expected the door to stop closing–so the question is how reasonable was this expectation. If it happened in an area accessible to the public, and in a state where all such doors and gates are required to have sensors, then maybe the expectation that this one would is not unreasonable. I don’t see why the manufacturer should be liable, though under our system it might, as the building owner chose to install this particular type of gate. If it is an inappropriate application for this location, surely the fault rests with the building owner/designer and not the gate manufacturer.

  8. aon, I am not a lawyer (altho I did once play one as pro se – dont think that counts though). I usually think is someone ok?. In this instance all i saw was someone not paying any attention. If she thght there were sensors how about using an arm to see if that stopped the door, as you usually do with an elevator. 150% negligent on the woman’s side, the security guard had no reason to think someone would be that dumb. (If the door was opened more I would give her a liitle slack in her negligence. Her only defense, maybe, is that she imagines herself slimmer than she is she figured she would fit.

  9. For those who give the woman 100% blame, keep in mind that most of us have years of behavioral conditioning regarding doors. When I was a young person, the idea of an automatic door would have been foreign to me. But over the last several decades we use automatic doors without thinking. Everyone who reads this has undoubtedly had the experience of blocking an elevator door from closing by sticking some body part in the closing door.

    I cannot really fault the woman too much, although as I always told my kids: Murphy’s Law is alive and well. Assume the worst and you will not be disappointed.

  10. Looks like those who responded did so as quickly as the guard might otherwise have done perhaps quicker; had he been in the office he may have taken longer to work out what was happening and press the relevant button as he may not have seen her.

    I’d say she’s completely to blame for this one for being such a dumb ass. I’d be embarrassed to take this to court although there may be a claim against the manufacturer for not having a safety cut off system.

  11. I am with nal, OS and mespo…..the salient time frame is about :36…..

  12. Yup, I’m with Nal (like I have any credentials to offer an opinion!) I’ll even go further in showing how little I really know about the law: How about a joint and several suit naming both the guard and the manufacturer.? That way you can get the jury to award something.

  13. Nal & OS make a good point. There is little a security guard could do to prevent this woman from her sheer absence of concern for her own safety. The guard has the right to rely on the fact that people will avoid obvious dangers in furtherance of their own safety. More interesting is the reponsibility of the manufacturer to install the sensors Nal & OS refer to in their comments. They are common place in automatic garage doors. Insert a four-year-old child for this woman in the scenario and I think you’ll catch the drift.

  14. What Nal said. We are used to elevator doors and other automatic doors having sensors that detect either movement or pressure. Even the garage door I once installed had a pressure sensor so it would not crush kids or small animals.

  15. I would be interested to know if she thought that there was a sensor that would detect her and stop the gate. Might the manufacturer also be negligent for not including such a safety device.

  16. The girl knew the risks she was taking by rushing through a closing gate. The guard did look around, and probably saw the girl but did not imagine she would be so careless. My opinion is the girl has only herself to blame.

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