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February 26, 2007

What's up with Club B.E.D.?

This one goes out to the New York hivemind...

Does anyone know exactly what's going on with Club B.E.D. in Chelsea? Citysearch lists B.E.D. NYC as temporarily closed, but various NYC blogs say the place is closed for good. In any event, as of yesterday afternoon there was no sign outside the club to indicate whether the place is closed, or for how long.

B.E.D. has reportedly been shuttered since a fatal elevator accident at the club on February 3. The host/manger Granville Adams has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in connection with the death of Orlando Valle. The criminal complaint alleges that Adams shoved Valle into the hoistway doors of the 6th floor club, forcing the doors open and sending Valle tumbling to his death. Adams' attorneys allege that he threw Valle off his back in self-defense after Valle jumped him from behind during a melee in the bar.

I've already filed one piece about the case for Chelsea Now. (I'll post a link when the story gets published.) I intend to keep following the case. Right now, I'm trying to learn as much as I can about B.E.D. and the people who worked there. If you've got tips, please leave comments below, or send me an email.

The $64,000 question is this: What's the name of B.E.D.'s coat check girl? I'd love to interview her. Please don't post any contact information for her in the comments, just send me an email.


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Thrown down an elevator shaft in self-defense? Never heard that one used before.

The inspectors found that the closed elevator door derailed from its glider because of an impact.

There was definitely a brawl. The accused says that the victim was clinging to his back and that he threw him off. The police say that the accused shoved the victim into the closed door.

I'm waiting to hear the physical evidence, but it doesn't sound implausible either way. The elevator inspector I talked to while researching the article said that closed doors can fly open from surprisingly light impacts--like play fighting or even just fallin or leaning. Obviously they're designed to be sturdier, but a lot of elevators are badly maintained and improperly retrofitted, so they aren't as sturdy as they should be.

If the elevator doors were poorly maintained, then the club staff could be liable for criminally negligent homicide for failing to fix a (rather obvious) dangerous condition on the premises. (The relevant statute, NY Pen. L. ยง 125.10, states that "A person is guilty of criminally negligent homicide when, with criminal negligence, he causes the death of another person.") Criminal negligence is, according to the hornbooks, more than ordinary civil negligence, but not always very much more. Sounds like Adams's defense could get him out of trouble---and whoever should have maintained the elevators into it.

I'm no elevator expert, but...I'd look first to who conducted the NY Elevator Inspections, which are done periodically, and signed off on, often on a card that is displayed in the elevator cab. On occasion, these inspectors have been known to take a wee gratuity.

Then I'd look to who had the service/maintenance contract on the elevator. There is almost always such a contract.

Then, and only then would I look to the landlord, which could be the same guys who own the club ; or to the tenant if they assumed a triple net lease on the property.

The condition may not have been obvious. The fact that an elevator is old and creaky does not mean it is unsafe. The condition may never have manifested itself before. If so, how could the staff have known the thing to be unsafe, esp if it was up to date on its inspections and there was a service contract with a licensed firm?

Someone may be responsible for doing slipshod maintenance or overlooking dangerous conditions in an inspection.

Or it could be that there was just some defect in the design, which only manifested itself at the worst possible time.

You have to weigh the costs and benefits of making elevator doors strong enough to resist people being slammed against them in a brawl. What are the odds of this vs. someone needing to force one open because it's malfunctioning or the power is out due to blackout, fire, etc.

Actually I'm kind of glad they don't make elevator doors that are as strong as trash compactors. It probably prevents a lot of people from being needless crushed to death.

I had to force my way through a BART turnstyle (one of those deals like they have on the DC Metro, where these two wedge thingies open and close after your ticket is scanned). I was relieved that the things are not actually capable of crushing your femurs.

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