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Staples Center sued by family of toddler who fell to his death at Lakers game

May 24, 2011 |  2:32 pm

Staples_275 A lawsuit alleging unsafe conditions at Staples Center was filed Tuesday on behalf of the family of 2-year-old Lucas Tang, who fell to his death from a skybox during a Lakers game in November.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges wrongful death and negligence, saying Anschutz Entertainment Group and L.A. Arena Co. did not warn fans about the "dangerous" design of the luxury boxes. It seeks unspecified damages, as well as an injunction that would require the installation of taller barriers in front of the boxes.

“Beyond providing some measure of compensation to the grieving family, the purpose of this lawsuit is to compel Staples Center to prevent similar accidents from happening again, even if installing basic safety features reduces the maximum price it can charge for tickets,” plaintiffs attorney Scott Wellman said.

Tang fell from a third-level luxury box, dropping 30 to 50 feet, minutes after the conclusion of the Lakers' game against Golden State on Nov. 20. He suffered massive head injuries and died at a hospital.

Although an autopsy determined the death was an accident, the suit contends that “in order to obtain the highest price possible for use of the luxury boxes, the Staples Center designed and maintains the luxury boxes in a dangerous condition.”

Wellman said of the defendants: "They are trading dollars for safety."

But with a safety barrier consisting of 16-inch-high concrete topped with glass starting at 10 inches high, Staples Center is in compliance with codes requiring guardrails to be at least 26 inches high, city officials say.

Michael Roth, vice president of communications for AEG, did not comment because he said he hadn't seen the lawsuit.

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: A Staples Center usher looks down into the third level luxury suites from which a 2-year-old boy fell to his death in November. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

 

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