Metro

Lawsuit over T escalator death settled

82-year-old woman strangled in 2009 when clothes got caught

The family of Helen Jackson, 82, has reached a $500,000 settlement with the MBTA and two companies.
The family of Helen Jackson, 82, has reached a $500,000 settlement with the MBTA and two companies.

The family of an 82-year-old Dorchester woman who was killed in 2009 when she became trapped in an escalator at an MBTA station has reached a $500,000 settlement with the agency, court records show.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Judith Fabricant approved the agreement Sept. 12 between the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the daughter of Helen Jackson, according to court filings.

Attorneys for Jackson’s daughter — Citerial Trotman, of Dorchester — and two companies named as codefendants in her lawsuit, Kone Inc. and Lerch Bates Inc., did not respond to inquiries seeking comment Friday afternoon.

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Attempts to reach Trotman, who is Jackson’s only child, were unsuccessful.

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“The MBTA is satisfied that this matter has been resolved without the need for a trial,” Joe Pesaturo, a T spokesman, wrote in an e-mail. “The MBTA offers its condolences to Mrs. Jackson’s family.”

According to a copy of a court filing obtained by the Globe, a patron at the State Street T station in Boston found Jackson lying at the top of a moving escalator on Feb. 24, 2009, “in apparent distress.” Some of Jackson’s clothing was caught in the escalator and wrapped around her neck.

The patron pressed an emergency shut-off button for the escalator, and rescuers freed Jackson by cutting her clothes with a knife and scissors. However, she was unresponsive at that point, records show.

Jackson was later pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a state medical examiner determined the cause of death to be asphyxia by strangulation, according to a legal filing detailing the settlement that was signed by attorneys for all parties involved in the case.

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The filing said the escalator had been installed in 1971.

Pesaturo said Friday that a state inspector found no defects with the escalator after Jackson’s death, and that it was “returned to service within days” of the accident.

A spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety told the Globe in 2009 that the escalator had passed an inspection on May 27, 2008, and was due for another annual inspection the following May.

According to the legal filing, Kone maintained the escalator at the time of Jackson’s death under a contract with the MBTA.

Lerch Bates was a T consultant and oversaw Kone’s performance of its contractual obligations, the filing states.

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Pesaturo said Friday that Kone still performs maintenance and repair work on T escalators, but Lerch Bates is no longer a consultant for the agency.

Kone has been paid at least $1.2 million in state contracts since fiscal 2010, according to the state’s official Open Checkbook database. It was not clear Friday how much Lerch Bates had received as a T consultant.

Neither company could be reached for comment on Friday evening.

“The settlement was reached based on the parties’ recognition of the conflicting evidence, the risks of trial, and the costs of further litigation,” the legal filing stated, adding the parties agreed to keep the settlement terms confidential.

Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.