Improper Placement Can Be Deadly

A Florida boy was killed in a unique garage door accident involving an opener with photo eyes.

The young boy's father, a contractor, put photo eyes on his garage door up towards the ceiling, in order to avoid the hassle that comes with many photo eye problems.  He could not have foreseen that in moving the sensors, the resulting loss of safety would claim his son.

John Murphy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who helped initiate a more thorough investigation of the fatality, verified the account in an Oct. 15, 2008 conversation with Antone Clark of Martin Door Manufacturing.  There is another other fatality Murphy knows of personally involving a girl, killed when photo eyes were installed more than two feet off the floor, due to high concrete footings.

Proper installation of photo eyes is three to five inches off the floor, according to guidelines provided by Underwriters Laboratory (UL).

Dave Martin, chairman of Martin Door Manufacturing, has argued that installers often over adjust garage door openers on the home, to avoid potential callbacks, or in some extreme cases, even mitigate the potential safety aspects of such a system, by installing the photo eyes close together, up near to the ceiling, etc.

A bad photo eye install, such as that shown above where the eyes are just inches from each other, is dangerous.  A flagrant disregard for following proper installation guidelines has proven fatal, in several cases.

New System Drawing Rave Reviews A year later, and the rave reviews continue to come in. Martin Door's new soft-touch reverse technology is a hit, and saving dealers time and money. "Its' been phenomenal," Bernie Fuller, office manager for Madden Door, of Martinez, California said of Martin Door's new door system, without photo eyes. Fuller said the company had a few callbacks when they first began installing soft-touch everse openers, but he said those were mostly related to the techs learning how to install a new system, which he said has an easy learning curve. He claims callbacks with the new system are almost zero. Fuller is not alone in his praise. Brace Lake of Mr. Martin Garage Doors of Buena Park, CA. gives the new system an A+. He said company officials were initially fearful of how the system would operate, thinking it might be too sensitive. He suggests a year later the systems have "dramatically" reduced the number of callbacks. Dave Moffitt of Accent Garage Doors in Salt Lake City is among those who have reduced callbacks, when installing the new system. "It's been great," Moffitt said of response to the new opener. He said the impact on garage door retrofits has been especially positive, reducing the need for callbacks. Fuller described photo eyes as the "bane of our existence" and said they present the single biggest problem for garage door installers, regardless of the model of the product involved. He said the greatest number of callbacks to his company relate to photo eyes. "They've been out since 1983 and people don't understand them," Fuller said of photo eyes. By contrast, Fuller said people are taken back by how Martin's soft-touch reverse system works. He said he personally stands under the garage door and lets the door reverse off the top of his head, without even flinching to show how sensitive the system is. Lake said the new system is hard to explain to a customer and is best shown by illustration. He has developed charts to show the setting and force associated with a photo eye system, in contrast to the new Martin system. Alberto Del Callejo, right, poses under a Martin Garage Door after experiencing the soft-touch reverse system on Martin's new system without photo eyes for himself. Dealers have found the new system translates into fewer callbacks with customers. Del Callejo is shown with Scott Johnson, left, a Martin Door sales representative.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

It's a lesson that a California man will have plenty of time to review behind bars.

Andy James was sentenced to 41 months in prison in September by a California judge, after running a scam that fooled a number of manufacturing companies, including Martin Door.  He was also ordered to pay up to $90,499 in restitution.

The scam was simple enough.  Using the pretext of being with a movie company, James---who went by the name of Carson Rogan---asked manufacturing companies to contribute product towards a movie, with promises of some perks for the company, if they did so. This is not an uncommon request and Martin Doors has been seen in several movies and training films.

Martin Door Manufacturing contributed two powder coat doors towards the movie, which was allegedly being produced by Paramount Pictures entitled "The World Is My Stage."  The contribution came with a promise of some mention of Martin Doors in the movie, as part of the script, and some finished product shots. Mentioning the Martin name and showing the Martin Door as part of a larger show was intriguing to the entire advertising department at MDM. The bogus website was especially convincing.

The story was featured in a December 2006 version of the Martinews, suggesting Martin Doors were hitting the silver screen.  The edition was eventually put on line as well. 

Turns out the donation didn't go to a movie at all, but ended up in a Nevada warehouse.  After connecting the dots, shortly after the story was first publicized, distribution of the story was pulled by Martin officials, except for the Martinews on the website.

As the scam spread to other companies, and as officials from the various targeted sought to get information on Rogan, they were directed to the Martin Door website and to contact with Antone Clark, chief communications officer.

Clark coordinated efforts between legitimate officials of Paramount, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the victims.  In most cases, people would do a Goggle search on the name of Carson Rogan, and be directed to the Martin Door website.

Clark said his oldest son, an attorney for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego, advised him on how to make contact with the FBI, in helping to build a case.

As the list of victims grew, the FBI was able to build a case against James and specify his area of operation in California.  Martin Door Manufacturing provided key e-mail information on Rogan and then kept victims and the FBI linked, as the list of victims grew.  The calls of inquiry came on a fairly steady basis for almost an 18-month period, according to Clark.

"It's embarrassing to have been victimized, like we were, but it's encouraging to see the system work and to help facilitate conviction for someone who has committed a crime," Clark said of the verdict.

The Martin Door spokesman said he has also been in contact with the FBI Victims Bureau in linking information from the scammed companies.

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