Woman files lawsuit after 4-year-old daughter falls through Sac State staircase railing

Lihua Tang is seeking damages over $25,000


Jordan Silva-Benham

The outside of Capistrano Hall. In 2018, Lihua Tang’s child fell through a staircase railing in the building.

Jordan Silva-Benham, news editor

After her daughter fell through a staircase railing in Sacramento State’s Capistrano Hall last year, Lihua Tang filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 against the California State University Board of Trustees regarding a complaint of personal injury due to dangerous public property.

The plaintiffs — Tang, her 4-year-old daughter and her 12-year-old-son — filed a claim for over $25,000 in damages.

Sac State President Robert Nelsen, CSU Chancellor Timothy White and Sac State Associate Vice President of Facilities Management Justin Reginato are all named as defendants in the suit, according to the Sacramento Superior Court website.

The lawsuit notes three causes of action: dangerous condition of public property, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional stress.  

At the time of publication Sac State, Tang and her lawyer had not responded to requests for comment.

On Dec. 1, 2018, Tang and her two children were at Capistrano Hall for her son’s music audition. According to the complaint filed by Tang and her children’s attorney Alicia Boytin, Tang was approaching the check-in table in room 142-A and her children were a few feet away.

Then Tang said she heard a thud and a cry. 

Story continues below excerpt.

Excerpt from Lihua Tang’s complaint.

Tang’s daughter fell approximately nine feet from the staircase railing to the floor, the complaint said. 

The California State University claim form submitted on April 29 said the daughter suffered injuries including a fractured wrist, fractured teeth, fractured jaw, lacerations and soft tissue injuries.

According to the claim, the medical expenses for her treatment were deemed to be over $60,000. 

Tang and her son both claim severe emotional damages on account of the daughter’s injuries. 

The lawsuit said that the University failed to comply with Government Code Section 835 and 835.2, which states that “a public entity is liable for injury caused by a dangerous condition of its property if… the property was in a dangerous condition at the time of the injury,” and that the university, a public entity, had knowledge of the dangerous condition of the railing. 

Students say Capistrano Hall is fairly outdated. 

“This whole building needs a whole update,” said Jason Cruz, a music education major. 

Brianne Gonzalez, a jazz studies major, said the overall comfort level of the building could be improved with just “a little attention.”

“It’s pretty old,” Gonzalez said. “There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but I do feel like there’s a lot that can be done in certain departments regarding funding.”

The case management conference for the case will be held May 14 of next year. All parties, as well as their lawyers and a judge, will meet to discuss how to move forward.

Additional reporting by Chris Wong.