The family of a Food Emporium employee who was killed in a horrific elevator accident while working in the store has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against building owners Manhattan Plaza and the elevator companies in charge of the faulty machinery. 

Hell's Kitchen Food Emporium Death Maria Sanchez
Emergency responders attend the scene at Food Emporium on December 15, 2020. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Jeylin Sanchez — whose mother, 39-year-old Food Emporium worker Maria Sanchez was killed on December 15, 2020 when the employee dumbwaiter she was using malfunctioned, causing a high-impact, fatal head injury – filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her mother’s estate in Bronx County Court on Monday November 28. 

Jeylin and Wendy Hernandez, the co-administrators of Maria Sanchez’s estate, have named Food Emporium landlords Manhattan Plaza as well as Liberty Elevator Corporation, Brooklyn Elevator Corporation and Arrow Elevator Inc as responsible for illegally installing and neglecting to repair the machinery that killed Maria. 

“On December 15, 2020, and for some time prior thereto, during the course of their employment, employees of Seven Seas, including but not limited to the decedent, were directed, instructed and/or expected to use the dumbwaiter to transport produce and/or other products from the basement level to the ground floor level and/or from the ground floor level to the basement level,” read the court filings by Sanchez and Hernandez’s lawyers, which add: “Defendant, Liberty Elevator Co, Inc. caused, permitted, allowed and/or suffered the dumbwaiter to become, be and/or remain in an unreasonably unsafe, dangerous, hazardous and defective condition and in a state of disrepair.” The location is run by Food Emporium · Seven Seas 42nd St LLC.

Hell's Kitchen Food Emporium Death Maria Sanchez
Firefighters arrive to Food Emporium after Maria Sanchez was killed by a faulty, unregistered elevator. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The plaintiffs go on to allege that the elevator operating company did not register the machinery with the Department of Buildings, thereby forgoing crucial safety inspections. An initial investigation by the Department of Buildings (DOB) found that the elevator was illegally installed and in violation of the city’s safety inspection policies. 

“Unfortunately, working conditions are ignored when it comes to minorities,” wrote Jeylin in a GoFundMe testimonial. “It is so tragic that my mom left everything she knew back home to come to this country to obtain a better life but lost it while doing so. She worked so hard for us to have a roof over our heads and food on the table.”

Hell's Kitchen Food Emporium Death Maria Sanchez
Maria Sanchez was killed at Food Emporium in December 2020. Photo via GoFundMe

Maria left behind three siblings, who she financially supported as well as her four children, three of whom are minors. “ My mom was so amazing,” said Jeylin. “She was hardworking, caring, understanding, open-minded, so charismatic and so much more. Anyone who has ever met her knows how full of life she was. Her smile and laugh could brighten anyone’s day.  Not only was she so strong physically, but mentally as well. That’s something she’d always tried to teach me to be.” 

W42ST reached out to Related Management, who operate Manhattan Plaza, as well as Liberty Elevator Corporation and Brooklyn Elevator Incorporated for comment on the case, and we will update if we hear back.

Join the Conversation


  1. Sue the heck out of the over priced, money stealing food emporium and all involved!! Bankrupt them all! Justice for Maria!

  2. Bravo and Kudos to Jeylin,

    Sue the pants off Related, especially. They are the worst landlords in the city. Get millions and justice for your beloved mom, Maria!

  3. That kind of comment from Heather concerning the Hispanic woman’s death, sounds awfully racist, from my point if view. And no compassion for the victim’s untimely death 2 years ago. Other than that, everyone involved in this woman’s death, should be all sued for big money. The supermarket should be put in the limelight, for the general public to see, in the way they treat their employees.

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