Thomas Moore: Jury awards $45.2M in East Harlem shopping cart attack that left woman with brain damage
New York Daily News ByVICTORIA BEKIEMPIS JUN 14, 2018|10:20 AM
A jury awarded $45.2 million to a brain-damaged philanthropist and her family in their lawsuit involving the East Harlem mall where two teens tossed a shopping cart onto her head.
The Manhattan Supreme Court jury took just three and a half hours to reach its colossal verdict after an approximately month-long trial, in which lawyers for Marion Hedges argued that East River Plaza mall and Planned Security Services didn't do enough to keep her safe.
Its been a long, long road, said Hedges, who clapped after the verdict. This nightmare hopefully will end.
They plan to give some of the award to the nearby Johnson Community Center to help teenagers.
We want to help Harlem kids have a chance to do something besides throw a shopping cart on a boring Sunday afternoon, Hedges said.
Hedges, now 53, was buying Halloween candy for needy kids with her son on Oct. 30, 2011, when two teens threw a shopping cart from a fourth-floor walkway.
I found out in the hospital, doctors coming in said to me You should have died. You were dead, Hedges testified. I didn't know what to say.
I saw a shopping cart over to the left, said her son, 19-year-old Dayton, when he took the stand.
I went to pick her up, said Dayton, who was only 13 at the time, and she was just covered with blood.
Hedges told jurors shes a shadow of her former self incontinent and incapable of physical intimacy, struggling with her vision and memory.
She won $40.7 million. Her son received $2.5 million and her husband received $2 million respectively.
Thomas Moore, who represented Hedges, argued during the trial East River Plaza and Planned Security were well aware that people had hurled items from upper-level walkways including rocks and a glass bottle before the near-fatal attack some seven years ago.
It was like a mini war zone up there, said Moore, who also pointed to missing security logs during his closing statements, and they did nothing, absolutely nothing.
They dug their head in the sand, Moore also said. They were like ostriches.
Lawyers for the mall and Plaza Security Services said they are likely to appeal.
Jurors who weighed the case were eager to speak about their verdict, with several saying that missing security logs and emails were key.
That was the main thing throughout the whole trial, said Corey Saunders, 36.
Juror Joel Walker pointed to the emotional toll of the incident in how their award was reached.
This was a horrible, horrible incident that happened to Mrs. Hedges and her family, Walker said, explaining that she cant buy back what was missing the rest of her life.
Justice Carmen St. George praised Hedges after the verdict came down, saying I think you have shown us all how to live in the face of adversity.