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Woman sues Fenway Park, elevator company over fall

A New Jersey woman who suffered severe injuries when she fell down an elevator shaft at Fenway Park after a Red Sox game earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against the team's parent company and the contractor that maintained the elevator.

Lawyers for Elisabeth A. Scotland, who fell about 25 feet before landing on top of an elevator car on May 16, filed the civil complaint against Fenway Sports Group and Otis Elevator Company on Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, records show.

Scotland, 22, was hospitalized for several weeks and continues to recuperate from her injuries, including traumatic brain injury, facial and spinal fractures, and lung contusions, and she will suffer physical and mental impairment for the rest of her life, the civil filing stated.

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The lawsuit does not specify a monetary amount being sought by Scotland but it does say she has incurred well over $250,000 in medical expenses, and that the costs will grow. She has also suffered lost income and diminished earning capacity, the suit stated.

"The elevator door was inadequately installed, improperly maintained . . . and exposed Scotland to a fall hazard that should never occur," the complaint said.

A spokeswoman for the Red Sox, Zineb Curran, speaking on behalf of the team and Fenway Sports Group, declined to comment on the pending litigation. John Henry, principal owner of both entities, also owns The Boston Globe.

"Our thoughts remain with Ms. Scotland and her family, and we hope for continued progress with her recovery," Curran wrote in an e-mail.

Otis Elevator said they were reviewing the legal filing and declined further comment.

Authorities have said previously that Scotland was with other people when she fell, and that extreme force against the bottom of the elevator door may have led to the fall.

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But in the complaint, Scotland's lawyers wrote that she made "casual contact" with the unit's hoistway, or outer, door on the fourth floor of the ballpark as she waited with her family for the elevator car to arrive.

That door "improperly hinged at the top, [and] the bottom moved inward without warning, like a dog door, into the shaft, exposing a fall hazard" that Scotland fell through, the complaint said.

Scotland's lawyers contend the hoistway door's safety retainers and gibbs, which are supposed to hold it in place when it is met with force, were not properly maintained.

The attorneys attached a report from Edward N. Sandell, a supervisor with the state Department of Public Safety who investigated the fall.

Sandell wrote that the available evidence, including witness statements, suggests Scotland had her back to the door when she jumped up and hugged her father from behind, and then came into contact with the door when she let go of him.

It is "highly unlikely" that the force Scotland applied to the door exceeded the maximum impact that it should be able to withstand, Sandell wrote. In addition, his report found the gibbs on the door were replaced three times between June 2012 and October 2013, and the fourth-floor doors were also repaired in January of this year.

Otis Elevator took over the maintenance contract in April, two months after the elevator was inspected on Feb. 7 and minor, non-door related violations were found, according to Sandell's report.

The repeated repairs indicate that "the integrity of the doors had likely become compromised . . . at some point between February 7, 2014 and the date of the accident," Sandell wrote.

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.