LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A judge has tossed a wrongful death suit filed by a couple who sued the managers of Staples Center over the death of their 34-month-old son, who was fatally injured in a fall from the ledge of a luxury suite.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason heard arguments Friday on L.A. Arena Co.’s motion for dismissal of the case brought in May 2011 by Garden Grove residents Hoia Mi Nguyen and Henry Tang, parents of Lucas Tang.
The judge took the case under submission and later in the day granted the defense’s dismissal motion.
“The court finds that the defendants did not owe a duty to the plaintiffs to properly supervise Lucas to prevent him from falling from the luxury box suite,” Bryant-Deason wrote in a two-page ruling. “The 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 also said the couple’s lawyers did not show how anything arena officials did or failed to do caused the boy’s fall.
The attorneys could not be immediately reached today.
Nguyen, asked during a pretrial deposition why she put her son on the ledge, replied, “So I can take a picture and capture the moment for his first Lakers game.”
The toddler was killed on Nov, 21, 2010, during a game in which the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors.
The luxury boxes are open at the front to aid spectator viewing of events. The only barrier is a “pony wall,” according to the suit, which says a ledge sticks out toward the interior of the box that can be used in various ways, including as a table.
The suit also alleged negligent infliction of emotional distress on behalf of Nguyen, who maintains there were no written warnings about the ledge — referred to in the lawsuit as a beverage bench — and that the plexiglass barrier along most of it was only about 10 inches high.
“Whether or not the beverage bench was intended to be used for the placement of food and beverages, patrons typically sit, stand or climb on it,” the plaintiffs’ court papers stated. “Indeed, defendants admit that patrons use the beverage bench to sit or stand on.”
But according to the defense attorneys’ court papers, “No reasonable person would anticipate a parent, supervising her energetic 2-year-old child inside the suite, would purposefully place him on the beverage bar, then look away from the child to take photographs.”
Bryant-Deason previously threw out the portion of the complaint against NBBJ LP, the arena’s architects.
Nguyen gave her deposition last November. She said she took four photos of her son with her iPhone just before he fell.
“I was holding my camera and I took the last picture of him and I glanced down at the fourth picture,” she said. “When I glanced back up to take the next one, I noticed he wasn’t there.”
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