Lift-Death Widower Demands Answers After 7 Year Wait For Companies To Admit Responsibility For Wife’s Death

London Woman Crushed By Faulty Lift

08.03.2010

Lawyers acting on behalf of an angry husband whose wife was crushed to death by a faulty lift at a central London gym are demanding answers from those who have pleaded guilty to causing her death nearly seven years ago.

This morning at Southwark Crown Court, ThyssenKrupp Elevators Limited, the world’s largest lift manufacturer, pleaded guilty to causing the death of 32 year-old City worker Katarzyna Woja from Hornsey, North London joining Virgin Active gyms who had pleaded guilty to the similar charges last December. 

Mrs Woja was killed as she stepped out of a lift while it dropped past the exit level at the then Holmes Place gym near Liverpool Street station on 12th March 2003.

Her husband, Nebojsa Dorontic, said he was “bewildered” that it has taken so long for both defendants to plead guilty to charges put to them in the Autumn of 2008, while Keith Barrett, Legal Executive Lawyer and Partner from Irwin Mitchell solicitors who are representing Mr Dorontic, said the guilty pleas had “deprived” Mr Dorontic of the right to establish why simple repairs were not made which would have meant his wife was still alive today. 

“Today’s hearing leaves nothing but unanswered questions and a very sour taste in the mouth of all concerned”, Mr Dorontic said.  “By not having a full trial the remaining members of Katarzyna’s family and I may never know why she died and that is the least we deserve after all this time.

“After seven long years, the companies involved have walked away determined that they will never have to explain why simple maintenance was not carried out that would have meant would have saved my wife’s life.”

By changing their plea to guilty on the first morning of what would have been a ten day trial (reduced from 15 days following Holmes Place’s Guilty Plea in December), ThyssenKrupp Elevators Limited no longer have to provide answers to a series of vital questions which have important public safety implications. 

Keith Barrett Legal Executive Lawyer and Partner at Irwin Mitchell said, “Despite both Defendants now having pleaded guilty, we are still no closer to understanding why Ms Woja died.  Both defendants have taken years to admit fault for turning a gym lift into a death trap and have even made two attempts to get the criminal case against them struck out.  Yet they are still to explain why basic maintenance was not carried out”. 

Damningly, a ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s representative had inspected the lift and certified it safe the day before Katarzyna was killed.  “If a bus or a train is known to be faulty, you take it out of service and wouldn’t let people on.  This should have been no different," Mr Barrett continued. 

Mr Dorontic said: “My wife was a charming and intelligent woman with whom I was very much in love.  She went to work that morning as usual but by lunchtime my life had been ripped apart.”