Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Staples Center owner sued by family of toddler who fell to death at arena

May 24, 2011 |  4:16 pm

The family of a toddler who died after plunging at least 30 feet from a luxury box at Staples Center filed suit against the owners of the venue alleging that a poorly designed barrier led to the incident.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, names Staples Center owner Anschutz Entertainment Group, and the operator of the arena, L.A. Arena Co., as defendants in connection with the death of Lucas Tang, 2, who fell from the box following a Lakers game last year.

Lawyers for the family of Lucas Tang allege that the barrier in front of the boxes was only 2 feet high and that ownership provided "no warnings of the dangerous condition, either by signs, oral statements by employees, or otherwise."

The plaintiffs allege that the dangerous condition was allowed to persist because the arena would make more money if fans had an unobstructed view of the game, their attorneys Scott Wellman and Stuart Miller said in a statement.

Michael Roth, vice president of communications for AEG, said the firm had no immediate comment because they had not received a copy of the lawsuit.

Moments before the fall, the Tang family -- including Lucas, his parents and 11-year-old sister -- were taking pictures in front of the plexiglass barrier meant to protect fans from the steep drop.

But as the family was reviewing pictures on their digital camera, Lucas somehow made his way over the barrier and plummeted nearly 30 feet, landing on a row of empty seats. Lucas died the next morning at a local hospital. He would have turned 3 in January.

It was the first fatality of its kind at the arena, which opened a decade ago.

-- Andrew Blankstein (on Twitter @anblanx) and Richard Winton (on Twitter @lacrimes)