Business

Lift firm Schindler ordered to pay €16,000 plus costs to hotel

January 31st, 2020 10:20 AM

By Elaine O'Donovan

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A COMPANY that signed a contract undertaking to carry out ‘all minor and major’ works to the elevator system at the Inchydoney Lodge and Spa has been ordered to pay €16,000, plus costs.

The company Schindler Limited (Ireland), which has its headquarters at the Centrepoint Business Park in Dublin, denied liability, claiming the system was ‘dilapidated.’

Des O’Dowd, the owner of the hotel, said the contract covered the main elevator for guests, as well as the kitchen elevator and the dumb waiter.

He said the contract – taking on all risks – was signed in January 2013, and was an all-in maintenance contract covering minor and major repairs.

He acknowledged that they agreed to deal with an over-heating problem by installing a cooling system, but their expert witness found it to have been installed in the worst possible place.

Instead of rectifying a problem of leaking oil with new seals, the hotel manager said the company’s maintenance team kept adding more oil to such an extent that the hotel had to carry out an environmental clean-up operation.

He also stated that their expert witness found one of the seals to have been installed upside down – a situation that exacerbated the problem rather than dealing with it.

In the normal course of business, the hotel owner said they might have had to deal with five or six issues during a year, but in 2016 they had to deal with 29 problems with the elevators, most of which happened towards the end of the year.

Mr O’Dowd said: ‘We were standing in front of guests saying, “Sorry, but the guy hasn’t come”. He said Inchydoney parted company with Schindler and signed a new contract with a different company in January 2017.

In reply to questions posed by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin, Des O’Dowd said the OTIS elevators were installed in 1998 and they each have a lifespan of 25 years, and were, at that stage, 18 years old.

Simon Lancaster, the expert witness for the hotel, said the company’s maintenance crew continued to put oil into the system.

He said that oil leaked into the bottom of the lift shaft and it meant the lift was ‘operating without sufficient oil at times.’

He said: ‘Putting the seal in upside down caused it to leak even more.’ And he found that the cooler system was ‘too small, and fitted in the worst location, and was never correctly installed’.

Denying liability, Michael Kelly for the company, said the system was in a ‘dilapidated’ state when they took over the contract. He also alleged that there were hot water pipes in the lift machine room which contributed to the problem because it caused over-heating.

He alleged that the hotel had tried to rectify this problem by using a fan and cold water and by leaving the door open, but this was denied by the owner of the hotel.

Another witness, Kevin O’Leary, said he and Pat Ahern did some of the maintenance work and it was his colleague who installed the seals. He said the job was done ‘right’.

Judge Ó Donnabháin held in favour of the plaintiff on the basis that the defendant had – in full knowledge – signed an ‘all-in’ contract to service the elevators at the hotel.

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