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Settlement reached in wrongful death suit after tram accident

Following the tragic death of a Maryland man in 2013, a law was passed to regulate the safety of cliffside trams. The Jock Menzies Act requires the registration of trams with the state and inspections every two years. Authorities are concerned because, since the law was passed last year, not a single owner of such a tram has registered. A wrongful death lawsuit that was filed against two tram-servicing companies after the death of Menzies was settled out of court recently.

The incident that gave rise to the law occurred in August of 2013. According to court records, the tram stalled while it was carrying four people on a day in early August. Menzies apparently contacted an elevator company to arrange a service, and a third-party tram-servicing company carried out the service two weeks later. The day after the servicing, a cart reportedly broke loose while it was carrying the 69-year-old Menzies. Menzies was ejected from the lift car as it plunged down the cliff, and the complaint states that he suffered catastrophic injuries; he died on August 17, 2013.

The plaintiffs stated that the tram was serviced in June, and then on the day before the fatal accident, the tension in the cables was adjusted. It is alleged that on neither of those occasions did the servicing company check the condition of the safety rods that serve to prevent such catastrophes. The complaint states that the spring-loaded rods were solidly rusted into the casings, preventing them from deploying. However, the defendants claimed that they were asked to carry out specific tasks, and those did not include the full service of the cliffside tram.

When a loved one’s life is lost in an incident that was caused by or could have been prevented by another party, the surviving family members may have a claim for the recovery of financial losses incurred. By successful presentation of a wrongful death claim that is substantiated by evidence of negligence in a Maryland civil court, monetary compensation may be obtained. In addition to end-of-life expenses, the court may award other documented financial losses as applicable under state law.

Source:, “State law to improve tram safety draws zero participants“, Tim Prudente, June 30, 2015