A 10-year-old girl on a back-to-school shopping trip at Macy’s would be forever traumatized after her foot was swallowed under the teeth of a landing plate at the top of an escalator. As the escalator ground her foot and leg into its gears, copious amounts of blood and tissue were distributed over at least 11 steps until another shopper finally hit the “Emergency Stop” button.
Her injury would require 22 surgeries to save her mangled foot from amputation. Today, the 14-year-old girl walks with a limp and extremely stunted growth in her injured leg. Her healthy leg underwent surgery to slow its growth rate and match the speed of her injured leg. These severe disabilities will likely plague her for the rest of her life, and Samuel Davis, Esq., needed to show why she deserved major compensation.
We prepared Mr. Davis with an arsenal of strategic visuals to show what went wrong, how it could have been avoided, the young girl’s surgical experience, and the irreversible damage she now suffers as a result of the incident. We delivered the following exhibits:
The first animation breaks down the internal and external mechanics of the escalator model - as originally designed by its manufacturer - making sure to focus on the important features that would establish prerequisite knowledge for future talking points.
The camera rotates into several different positions, fading from the exterior to the interior to identify the important components most relevant to Mr. Davis’ case. A single step is isolated, fading off the surrounding escalator to view and identify the step’s subcomponents. The top landing floor plate is then faded on as labels identify the comb plate and comb teeth. The camera then zooms back out to a full view of the escalator and the animation concludes.
The second animation focuses attention on the point of failure and demonstrates how following proper maintenance regulations could have significantly reduced the chances of entrapment.
The second animation opens with an establishing shot of the escalator in its powered, operational state. The camera zooms into position to observe the area near the top landing and demonstrate the escalator’s mechanism of step movement. The camera then zooms into the landing plate to highlight the interface between the step tread and the comb plate.
Statements identify the meshing of the step tread as a safety feature, designed to eliminate the gap between the step and the landing plate, and reduce the possibility of entrapment.
The third animation opens with a shaky establishing shot of the misaligned plates that existed the day of the injury at the top of the escalator. Had the escalator been in compliance with safety regulations, the following animation could have been avoided.
The animation opens with the young girl and her family at the bottom of the escalator. Twenty-three excruciating seconds unfold as she approaches one of the most painful injuries imaginable. Knowing the conclusion builds emotional anticipation and drives empathy for the inevitable damage that could have been avoided.
At the moment of injury, we show the escalator’s comb plate pop open as the young girl’s leg disappears into the escalator’s unrelenting machinery. We ended with a 360 animation of the injury to anchor the aftermath, as explained below.
Every strong case needs a strong “visual anchor.” We recreated a 3D model of the young girl’s foot immediately after its injury, and rotate it in 360 degrees to show its destruction from every angle.
We call this a “visual anchor” because it anchors people’s understanding of the injury with an unforgettable image that they will remember when considering damages.
“The High Impact presentation brought together the liability and damages strengths of my case in a powerful way. It was without-a-doubt the tipping point in convincing Macy's to pay the entire amount of our offer of judgment.”
A year-and-a-half after her injury, it became apparent that her injured leg was suffering a stunted growth. With one leg growing faster than the other, and no way to speed the growth of the injured leg, surgeons decide to stunt the growth of her healthy leg to balance them out.
The visual presentation helped the defense understand why the traumatic experience and damages were so severe and life-altering, it would be smarter to settle for $15M than take this in front of a jury.