A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has tossed the lawsuit a Garden Grove couple brought against the Staples Center after their toddler son fell to his death from a luxury suite after a November 2010 Lakers game.
Arena management were not duty bound to watch Lucas Anthony Tang for the 2-year-old's parents, Henry Tang and Hoia Mi Nguyen, writes Judge Susan Bryant-Deason in a two-page ruling released today.
court finds that it was not foreseeable that Mr. Tang and Ms. Nguyen
would place Lucas in an openly and obviously dangerous situation by
putting him on top of the beverage bar where it was easily foreseeable
the he could climb over the tempered glass and fall,” the judge adds.
The couple and their counsel provided no evidence to show how arena officials were either negligent or did something to cause the boy to fall 30 to 50 feet from the suite to the hard bowl area below, according to Bryant-Deason.
Lucas, who would have turned 3 in January, was crawling around the luxury suite after a Lakers game against the
Golden State Warriors on a Sunday night when his parents eventually noticed he was
missing. Then came the grisly discovery he had fallen. He showed some arm and leg movement as he
was being attended to by paramedics at Staples, but he later succumbed to his injuries at
County-USC Medical Center.
Among those who took the news of the boy's death especially hard was then-Laker Lamar Odom, who lost a young child himself.
The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation, as is routine in accidents where child abuse or neglect could have been a factor. Preliminary results showed the luxury-box barriers met city codes and that the parents had kept a close eye on Lucas all game except when they briefly let him down as they looked at family photos. The coroner ruled the death an accident.
The couple filed suit in May 2011, claiming Staples owner Anschutz Entertainment Group and venue operator L.A.
Arena Co. should have informed attendees their luxury box design was
dangerous. Unspecified damages and an injunction barring any more events at Staples
until protective railing is installed were sought.
Scott Wellman and Stuart Miller, the Laguna Hills attorneys representing the family, wrote in a statement that they plan to appeal, claiming Judge Bryant-Deason unjustifiably thwarted them at several turns during the trial.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.