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Mirror Injury Investigation, Apartment building

Property type: Multi-family apartment building

Location: Boca Raton, FL

Client: Attorney for Property Insurance Carrier

Incident description: Mirror injury. 46 year old female resident was drying her hair when the wall-mounted mirror became detached from the wall, tipped outward and impacted the resident and shattered. The mirror was approximately 86″ wide x 42″ tall x .188″ thick. The mirror glass was not tempered or laminated.

Injuries: Shattered mirror caused lacerations injuries to elbow knee and ankle. Impact injury to neck and back.

Documents reviewed by Façade Consultants (FC): Depositions of Plaintiff, Property Manager, Assistant Property Manager, Contractor and Maintenance Supervisor, site photos.

Site investigation by Façade Consultants

FC visited the incident apartment where the mirror injury took place, along with two other apartments. The bathroom mirror was examined in all units including the mirror condition and mirror attachment method. The mirror was found to be supported by three metal J-clips that sat upon the sink backsplash along the bottom edge and three metal J-clips along the top. Mirror mastic was not used.

In the incident unit, one of the mirror clips was found to be bent outward at the same corner where the Resident was known to hang the electrical cord of her hair dryer.

A flip phone was found among the broken glass. In order to test a theory that the mirror was broken when a flip phone or other object was hurled at the mirror in a similar unit, FC propelled a flip phone at a similar mirror multiple times, but was unable to break the glass.

Meshulam propels a phone projectile against a wall-mounted mirror in a nearby apartment in the same building
In one test, Meshulam propels a phone projectile against a similar wall-mounted mirror. The glass did not break

In order to explore the possibility that the mirror became disengaged during accidental human contact, such as a resident falling into the mirror, a 12 lb tool bag was hurled at the mirror in three trials, including with one clip raised off the glass edge. Result: The mirror did not break or disengage.

Meshulam propels a tool bag projectile against a wall-mounted mirror in a nearby apartment in the same building
In another test, Meshulam propels a tool bag projectile against a similar wall-mounted mirror in a nearby apartment in the same building. The glass did not break

In a separate bathroom, all three top clips were raised from the top of the mirror. The mirror remained vertical until given a small push. Then it came down, hit the edge of a door casing and remained in place without breaking. So far, the conditions related to the mirror injury were not replicated.

In the next test, Meshulam releases the top clips of the mirror.
In the next test, Meshulam releases the top clips of the mirror, allowing it to fall. The edge of the mirror hit the door casing and the glass stayed in that position, unbroken

This test was repeated and the glass broke after hitting a towel bar during its travel. This type of breakage could clearly cause the mirror injury.

Meshulam allows the mirror to fall a second time. This time the glass hit the casing and broke.
Meshulam allows the mirror to fall a second time. This time the glass hit the casing and broke, shattering onto the counter and the floor in large, sharp shards.

In a unit similar to the incident unit, the engagement (overlap) of the top clips to the mirror edge was measured and found to average 3/16″. The force to slide these clips up and off of the glass was measured and found to average 24 lbs. One of the clips was then pulled straight outward until it released from the wall. The force at which it released was 40 lbs.

Meshulam measures the force required to undo the mirror clips and the force required to pull the clip from the wall.
Meshulam measures the force required to undo the mirror clips at the top of the miirror and the force required to pull the clip from the wall.

Opinion of Façade Consultants

Mirror attachment in use at the Property was sufficient to hold the mirror in most cases, however the clips at the top of the mirror could rise up over time if a force was applied to the mirror. The probable use by Resident of the corner of the mirror for holding the hair dryer cord is believed to be a contributing factor to the detachment and mirror injury.

Disposition: Settled

Another case that resulted in death of a child: Family Mourns 2-Year-Old Killed After Mirror at Payless Falls on Her

More about glass breakage Diagnosing Glass Breakage

How to Install a Wall-Mounted Mirror: GANA MD 03-0709 Installation Techniques Designed to Prolong the Life of Flat Glass Mirrors

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