Mall of America Settles Infamous Balcony Tragedy

Among nightmare stories, the 2019 tragedy of a five-year-old boy at the Mall of America ranks way up there. That boy, Landen, was arbitrarily picked up and thrown off one of the Mall’s internal balconies randomly. The culprit turned out to be an individual who had a long history of creating problems at the same shopping facility. Landen amazingly survived the attack, even falling almost 40 feet to the hard floor below. The guilty party, one Emmanuel Aranda, ended up with a 19-year prison sentence via a guilty plea to first-degree attempted murder.

As it turned out, Aranda was well-known to the Mall security team. He had already earned the shocking and unwanted title of being banned not once, but twice, from the Mall, yet he kept returning to cause more problems. Only the last time he decided to rage his anger of rejection from women on an innocent five-year-old who tragically caught Aranda’s attention at the wrong moment.

Landen’s family sued the Mall after the boy’s recovery, blaming the Mall management and security for failing to have stopped Aranda from entering again or at least not paying attention to him when present. Given the fact that Aranda’s record of behavior was no secret, any presence of the individual allowed by the Mall security made the Mall liable for whatever he did inside if allowed to enter, according to the lawsuit.

Given the ugly facts of the case, as well as the fact that the Mall could likely have defended itself extensively, both sides decided a settlement was the better direction to follow, with a mutual agreement to improve the facility’s policies about risks going forward.

Landen’s was not a full recovery. The boy experienced 15 different medical corrections, which included surgical removal of his spleen, resetting two broken arm bones as well as a leg, and multiple head fractures. One estimate pegged the medical care provided to the boy to be well over $1.7 million and climbing.

The settlement will include resources deemed sufficient enough to offset the expense of Landen’s recovery as well as sufficient operational changes so that a similar criminal risk doesn’t happen again.