A New York City jury signed a $39.5 million verdict for a 30-year-old woman after she fell through an unguarded “vertical ladder” fire escape and suffered permanent injuries. That fire escape design had long been outlawed under legislation approved by the New York state legislature in 1928. This type of fire escape design is what was known as a vertical ladder. The 1928 law required that all such vertical fire escape ladders be replaced. The law was amended in 1948 to require all such models be replaced within a year.
In November 2008, Anastasia “Sasha” Klupchak was a 22-year-old New York University honor student and a varsity soccer player. She was visiting a friend’s fourth-floor apartment on 82nd Avenue in Manhattan. That evening,she joined two friends on the fire escape, which was at the back of her friend’s apartment.
As she turned to climb back through the kitchen window from the fire escape, she fell through an unguarded opening in the fire escape platform. She fell 12 feet to the roof below and suffered a severed spine and is now paralyzed from the waist down. She will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.