Blind man falls 4 floors through empty elevator shaft, survives

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

LOS ANGELES – A blind man is expected to survive after falling four floors through an elevator shaft at a Skid Row building for low-income residents. The incident was captured on video.

It happened at the Madison Hotel. Residents say it’s the latest example of the poor living conditions in the building. 

The video shows the elevator door open, and the man, who is legally blind, tries to enter. But, there’s no elevator. The man falls through the shaft. A nearby worker scrambled to help the man.

The video was posted online as part of a lawsuit against the building’s owner.

“You’ve already got the guy falling down the elevator shaft,” said Tammy Davis, a resident.  “I mean, what’s next?”

Davis has lived in the building for 12 years. She says the hotel is “a little better than living on the street, so, you take what you can get, but it’s not the best conditions.”

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The building is owned by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, whose president is Michael Weinstein. In addition to the Madison, the organization owns several other single-room occupancy hotels in Los Angeles for low-income people, including some on Skid Row. According to a recent LA Times report, they’ve spent more than $300 million sponsoring rent control ballot initiatives across California, but in LA, “Code Enforcement and Public Health complaints at foundation buildings are more than three times higher than those owned by other Skid Row nonprofits,” the Times said.

“We have roaches, we have bed bugs. The bathrooms are always not clean,” Davis said. “The bathrooms are always not clean. If you say something, sometimes they fix it. Sometimes you get on a waiting list.”

A spokesperson for AHF did not answer FOX 11’s questions, but shared a legal ruling they won against the hotel’s previous owner, relating to the broken elevator. In the statement, they foundation claimed it’s spent more than $6 million renovating the Madison Hotel since 2018, including $600,000 on the elevator. The foundation also says the building is at full occupancy and tenants pay $400 per month.

“The Los Angeles Times and other media outlets parroting the Times’ sloppy journalism repeatedly have blamed AHF for The Madison’s problems, especially its elevator outages. This judgment proves AHF did not know the elevator was problematic to begin with,” said Jonathan M. Eisenberg, an attorney for the AHF. “The real story should be the efforts AHF makes to keep the elevator running and to fix it as quick as possible when it goes out… the prior owner never disclosed more than a $150 receipt for repairs in the three years he owned the building.”

A spokesperson from the Los Angeles Housing Department also provided a statement to FOX 11: 

“LAHD is focused on ensuring safety and habitability for tenants through the City, including those who reside at residential hotels,” a Los Angeles Housing Department spokesperson said in a statement to FOX 11. “While we cannot comment directly on the number of violations at AHF properties, as it will take time to do a thorough review, I do wish to mention that LAHD routinely inspects all residential hotels and responds the same day or the next day for urgent complaints.

Davis said she’d like to see several issues fixed inside The Madison. Davis invited FOX 11 staff into her residence Thursday afternoon, but staff members at the door would not let the reporter crew inside.

“Somebody has to do something,” Davis said. “My main goal is to get the place fixed up.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.