Legal Issues and Lawsuits and Workplace Safety and Indiana Repertory Theatre and Law

Elevator company wants indemnity from IRT

February 17, 2011

An Illinois elevator company wants a judge to force the Indiana Repertory Theatre to protect it from liability in a lawsuit brought by a catering worker who fell down the elevator shaft at the downtown theater in 2007.

Charlie Stamps of Indianapolis sued IRT and Kone Elevators for negligence after he fell four stories. Stamps, who worked for MBP Distinctive Catering, was operating a hot cart near the elevator doors on Dec. 14, 2007, according to his November 2009 lawsuit in Marion County. When he reached down for the electrical cord, the elevator doors opened, and he fell down the shaft to the basement.

Kone, a Finnish company with its U.S. operations based in Moline, Ill., claims in a federal lawsuit filed this month that its maintenance agreement with the IRT requires it to indemnify the elevator company. Kone says a second agreement requires IRT to name Kone on its insurance policy for commercial bodily injury and property damage liability.

The company wants the judge to declare the not-for-profit IRT's obligations and pay Kone's costs in both lawsuits.

Stamps' lawsuit doesn't request a specific amount of damages, but Kone thinks the figure could be high. Kone's attorneys cited a deposition in which Stamps said he spent several weeks in the hospital with surgery to his wrist and knee, and that he expects more surgery.

A representative of the IRT could not be reached Thursday morning.

So far IRT has rebuffed Kone's requests for indemnity. Lewis Wagner insurance lawyer Richard Shoultz sent Kone's attorneys a letter last August explaining that the company was relying on an inaccurate version of the agreement, and that the company had not responded to IRT's concerns.

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