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Judge dismisses suit in child’s death at Staples Center

July 2, 2012 | 12:53 pm

Toddler's fallA Superior Court judge has tossed out a wrongful-death suit filed by a family whose 2-year-old boy died after plunging from a luxury box at Staples Center.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in May 2011, named Staples Center owner AEG and the operator of the arena, L.A. Arena Co., as defendants in connection with the death of Lucas Tang, who fell from the box in November 2010 after a Lakers game. The family had alleged that a poorly designed barrier led to Tang’s death.

But in her ruling Friday, Judge Susan Bryant-Deason put the onus of supervision on Tang’s parents rather than the arena.

Resting on previous court decisions, she wrote that Tang's parents put their child in an "obviously dangerous situation." She added that even if the arena did have the duty to supervise the child, there was no evidence that the arena's actions caused the fall. 

Moments before the boy fell, the Tang family was taking pictures in front of the Plexiglas barrier. But as the family was reviewing pictures on a digital camera, Lucas made his way over the barrier and fell nearly 30 feet.

He died the next morning at a hospital.

In court documents, lawyers for the family had alleged that the barrier in front of the boxes was only about 2 feet high and that the "design and maintenance of the luxury box constituted an unreasonable and dangerous condition."

"We are disappointed but not surprised by Judge Bryant-Deason's decision, as she consistently ruled against the Tang family on issues large and small since the outset of the case," said attorneys for the Tang family in a statement. "We are confident that the Court of Appeal will have a very different perspective on the case and that the Tang family ultimately will prevail. In the meantime, we hope that the dangerous, unremediated conditions at the Staples Center will not result in another tragedy.

Michael Roth, vice president of communications for AEG, confirmed that the case has been dismissed but deferred comment until the company's lawyers could issue a statement.


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-- Matt Stevens and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: A guard, top, looks down from where Lucas Tang fell after a November 2010 Lakers game at Staples Center. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press