MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Twin Cities family whose 5-year-old son was thrown from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America by a stranger in 2019 is suing the mall for negligence.
The child, named Landen and now 6, "suffered extensive and, in some cases permanent, injuries to his brain, face, arms, legs, and internal organs when he struck the floor of the Mall," according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Hennepin County.
Emmanuel Aranda, who pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the attack, told investigators he went to the mall intent on killing someone on April 12, 2019.
The family's lawsuit states Aranda "was well-known to the Mall, and to the Mall of America Security Department ... as a violent and aggressive man with an explosive temperament who had been banned from the Mall twice before for assaulting Mall patrons, making terroristic threats, being combative, and criminally damaging property.
"The assailant never should have been allowed in the Mall that day; if allowed to enter, he should have been followed by security. But the Mall failed to take either of these simple, necessary precautions, thereby breaching its duty to provide a safe environment to its guests."
According to the lawsuit, Aranda was banned from the mall for one year on July 4, 2015, after throwing things off an upper level, destroying merchandise and being "combative and uncooperative with police."
That ban was extended by four months when Aranda returned to the mall that October and allegedly threatened guests and threw drinking glasses at a restaurant.
The lawsuit also states Aranda was at the mall exhibiting "suspicious and unusual" behavior the day before the 2019 attack, and though security spoke to him, they never asked his name to check against mall records.
On the day of the attack, the lawsuit states Aranda stashed a jacket next to a third-level balcony near Nordstrom, which security collected. Though Aranda's identification was inside the jacket, mall security "did not connect the jacket with the suspicious individual from the previous day" until after the attack.
According to the lawsuit, another mother became suspicious of Aranda right before he threw Landen, when he approached her and her children.
"Aranda's behavior was suspicious enough that an ordinary person was able to detect something was wrong," the lawsuit says, "and yet the Mall's professional security department tasked with detecting such behavior and protecting Mall patrons from assault failed to do so."
The lawsuit states Landen's medical bills have exceeded $1.75 million. In addition to seeking damages for those costs, the family seeks damages for future medical expenses, pain and suffering, future income loss and mental anguish and distress.
The Mall of America gave WCCO the following statement:
From the day that this tragic event happened, our concern has been focused on Landen and his well-being. We are thankful for his ongoing and continued recovery. We can't imagine how traumatic this ordeal has been for Landen, his family, and friends.
Legal matters are not unexpected in a situation such as this. It is a process that we will continue to work through and hopefully find resolution for all parties.
Our thoughts and best wishes continue to remain with Landen and his family.
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