Rich and Maria Williams, the parents of one of the 13-year-olds stabbed at the South Bay Galleria Dec. 29, are suing the shopping center’s parent company Forest City Enterprises and its security company, Andrews International, INC, for negligence.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Michael Alder on Monday, alleges the mall lacked an adequate security presence and surveillance cameras, both of which Alder called “significant deterrents to criminal activity.”
The suit seeks redress for $300,000 worth of medical bills Rich and Maria have incurred related to the open-heart surgery their son underwent after being stabbed six times while sitting on a bench outside the AMC Theaters. In addition, it seeks ongoing compensation for future care as the boy will likely need another surgery, Alder said.
Rich and Maria held a press conference on Jan. 24 to encourage anyone with information about the incident or the suspect, described as a black male in his 40s, to come forward. They were joined by Redondo Beach Police and FBI detectives, who jointly announced a $25,000 reward for any information that might lead to the arrest and conviction of the attacker.
To date police have not made any arrests in connection with the attack.
“We had reached out to South Bay Galleria and their out-of-state parent company in Ohio to get them to compensate Ricky for his $300,000 medical bills and offer them the chance to participate with the families in a press conference to try to address safety concerns at the Galleria,” Alder said. “They declined… We had to file the suit.”
The suit will be served on both companies this week, Alder said.
Mall spokeswoman Mickey Marraffino told Easy Reader she cannot comment on legal proceedings. At press time, Forest City management had not received any papers related to the lawsuit.
Alder said the aim of the lawsuit is to put pressure on mall management and security to increase security presence and update surveillance systems at the shopping center.
“First and foremost we are trying to help make the mall a safer place so that this doesn’t ever happen to anyone else,” Alder said.
The lawsuit holds mall management and security accountable for questions of “the status of their security and why they cut back on security” and requests “documents related to criminal activity that’s occurred at the mall,” Alder said.
No surveillance cameras were trained directly on the area in which the incident occurred, but police and FBI detectives have been reviewing footage from nearby establishments.
Redondo Beach Police have called the stabbings “random” and “unprovoked.” Lt. Joe Hoffman said no words were exchanged between the perpetrator and the two teenaged victims, who attest they had no prior contact with the man who injured them. Both victims were sitting on a bench outside the movie theaters on the third floor of the mall when the attacker approached.
Rich and Maria’s son Ricky sustained six stab wounds, one that pierced his heart and lungs, and spent three weeks in the trauma unit of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. His friend sustained three stab wounds and spent three weeks in the hospital. Her parents are considering pursuing litigation, but are not involved in the lawsuit filed Monday.
In conjunction with the families of both victims, Alder has established a website to invite the public to come forward with information about the stabbings or other crimes committed at the South Bay Galleria. Visit www.makesouthbaygalleriasafe.com to make a report. ER