In an East Harlem (New York) shopping mall two teenage boys threw a shopping cart from the fourth floor of the parking area. When the shopping cart landed it hit a local philanthropist, causing severe and life-changing injuries and traumatizing her 13-year-old son. In all likelihood, neither thought it necessary to look for danger from above.
The woman had completed her shopping and was returning to her car, along with her son. When the boys pushed the shopping cart over the railing, it fell some 70 feet before landing on her, striking her head.
Video from the parking lot showed that three boys were on the fourth-floor walkway. One of the boys apparently tried to stop the other two boys, and then ran away from them. The two boys lifted a shopping cart over the railing and dropped it over the edge.
The Plaintiff’s (the woman) injuries included traumatic brain injury and permanent brain damage, diminished cognition, incontinence, memory loss and double vision. She and her family sued the mall and the security company hired by the mall to maintain safety in the mall’s common areas.
During the trial, it was revealed that the security company knew about many instances of items being thrown over the railings. The plaintiff’s attorney pointed out that the security company understood the risk of danger to people below, and that it had not been addressed adequately.
It is difficult to imagine why the boys wanted to throw a cart over the rail. It is also difficult to imagine why the boys did not look for people below before dropping the cart. The two boys were tried and convicted as juveniles for their decision to throw the shopping cart from the fourth-floor walkway.
In this case, the terrible harm suffered by the plaintiff was compounded by the effect of ending her charitable and philanthropic work. Her inability to continue her work in the community may affect the lives of may other people.
The jury held the boys 10 percent responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, the security company 25 percent responsible and the mall 65 percent responsible. The jury awarded the woman and her family approximately $45,000,000. The security company challenged responsibility and stated an intent to appeal the case. Clearly, assigning responsibility and liability for such an event is a complex and difficult decision for a jury to make. It is a clear case of shared liability and shared responsibility to protect the safety of others when on your property.
Fortunately, boys do not throw shopping carts over railings every day. Throwing other things over railings is not an isolated incident in shopping malls across the nation. We can only hope that other teens are more aware of responsibility and accountability.
If you or a loved one is injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person in any accident or event, and through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to sue for damages. If you are injured, call personal injury attorney Bettina Altizer. She and her team work every day to help people harmed by others to recover and move forward with their lives. Bettina and her trusted team at Altizer Law, P.C. in Roanoke, VA have been helping people rebuild their lives after such injuries for more than 25 years.
[Source: the New York Times]