BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (FOX 9) - The family of the young boy who was thrown off a third floor balcony at the Mall of America in 2019 is now suing the mall for negligence.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court, alleges the man who threw the boy over the railing should have never been allowed into the mall that day, or if he was, he should have been followed by security. The boy, then 5 years old, has only been identified by his first name, Landen.
"But, the mall failed to take either of these simple, necessary precautions, thereby breaching its duty to provide a safe environment to its guests," the lawsuit reads. "As a result, [Landen, his mother] and their entire family were forced to endure horrific, entirely unnecessary injuries and suffering that will affect them for the rest of their lives."
On April 12, 2019, Landen and his mom were with friends outside the Rainforest Café on the third floor of the Mall of America when Emmanuel Aranda, now 26, picked up Landen without warning and threw him over the railing. Landen fell about 40 feet before landing on the first floor of the mall, fracturing multiple bones and suffering massive head trauma.
According to the lawsuit, Aranda was well known to the mall’s security department as a "violent and aggressive man with an explosive temperament." He had been banned from the mall twice before for assaulting patrons, making terroristic threats, being combative and damaging property.
Aranda pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to 19 years in prison. According to the charges, he told police he had come to the mall on April 11, 2019 intending to kill an adult, but it did not "work out." He returned the following day and chose Landen instead.
The lawsuit says mall security became concerned about Aranda’s behavior on April 11 and had sent a security officer to speak with him as he stood on a balcony peering over the railing and talking to himself. However, the security officer never asked Aranda’s name and therefore never checked his name against its records to discover whether he had any prior incidents at the mall.
According to the lawsuit, Aranda walked around the mall for more than two hours after he was approached by mall security for his suspicious and unusual conduct, repeatedly looking over third floor balconies in the same area where he would throw Landen over the following day.
The lawsuit also notes that Aranda had returned to the Mall of America several times while his two previous bans were in effect, arguing this further shows the mall "lacks any effective means to screen dangerous or banned individuals from entering the mall."
Medical bills total over $1.75M
Landen’s family has accumulated over $1.75 million in medical bills over the course of Landen’s recovery from the near-fatal fall, according the family’s attorney, Mark J. Briol. He was hospitalized for several months following the incident.
Briol writes in the lawsuit that Landen has been "permanently damaged in several ways" by the severe head injury he sustained at the Mall of America on April 12, 2019. Since the incident, he has suffered significant softening and loss of brain tissue on both sides of his brain and his behavior and personality have been altered.
"He exhibits confusion about day to day activities. His memory, adaptive skills and academic performance have deteriorated," the lawsuit reads.
Landen will require follow-up treatments for years to come, including occupational and physical therapies and provisions for his life-care, according to the lawsuit.
His family is suing for monetary and other damages for the mall's negligence in the incident.
FOX 9 has reached out to the Mall of America and its legal team for a comment.