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Owner of shopping center files lawsuit against SCS, City of Memphis

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 11:07 PM CST

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A $5 million lawsuit filed against Shelby County Schools (SCS) and the City of Memphis two months ago ominously predicted the shooting that happened this week at a strip mall just down the street from Ridgeway High School.

The lawsuit contains a plea for help and a warning from a local mall owner who worried about the danger of large groups of young people loitering on his property after school.

“Sadly, it’s something that we feared,” attorney Richard Glassman said. “We feared that someone would be seriously hurt.”

Three teenagers getting shot during a fight Wednesday at the Balmoral Shopping Center in East Memphis came as no surprise to Glassman.

“We were concerned about the safety of the young adults and the safety of people coming to the shopping center to shop,” Glassman said.

Glassman’s firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of the mall’s owner after years of talks between all the parties involved failed to come up with adequate solutions. For years, the suit says dangerously large crowds of students from Ridgeway High have gathered after school, causing major disruption to shoppers and merchants. And for years, the suit claims SCS has done little to help solve the problem.

The lawsuit says “parents picking up their children from Ridgeway High School park their vehicles in the Balmoral Shopping Center parking lot blocking other traffic, driveways and parking spaces.”

It goes on to say “the pickup/drop off traffic from Ridgeway High School causes congestion in the Balmoral Shopping Center parking lot, such that customers, emergency vehicles, and/or any other persons wanting to enter the property are unable or troubled to do so.”

“This is not a place for young adults, hundreds of young adults to just congregate and wait for someone to come and give them a ride home,” Glassman said. That’s not what shopping centers are about. That’s what schools are about.”

The Shelby County district attorney said Glassman suggested posting no trespassing and no loitering signs provided by the DA’s office, which the mall owner did. Memphis police set up a blue light camera in the parking lot, but the kids still come in droves.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff hired security companies to enforce access to the property and coordinate traffic flow to no avail. The suit says “there have been numerous fights on the property involving students” and “tenants have had confrontations with parents and students. The students and cars take over the shopping center and the parking lot.”

“We need a solution to this problem that does not entail police officers sitting on the property every day and does not entail multiple arrests of young adults,” said Glassman. “It entails smart people getting together and applying good common sense, which I hope we can do.”

Glassman says they suggested the school use Quince instead of busy Ridgeway for parents to line up at dismissal time.

The lawsuit says “the principal of Ridgeway High School refuses to sit down and discuss the situation and try to work out a solution if the plaintiff attends with a lawyer. One such meeting with the principal and Shelby County District Attorney General was set and canceled by the Board of Education and at present, they refuse to meet and discuss this situation like rational adults.”

SCS and the City of Memphis both declined to comment for this story, citing litigation pending. But the very thing the mall’s owner feared came to fruition this week. As the blood’s being washed off the sidewalk and three young people now recover from their wounds, Glassman says his client exhausted all other avenues before filing the lawsuit. The mall, and the businesses there, he adds, have been harmed by the failure of the defendants to do the right thing.

“Hopefully now out of this tragedy, there may be something good to come, which will be for everybody to take a deep breath and say ‘we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again,’ or at least try,” he said.”

The three teenagers who were shot will survive their injuries. Two other kids were taken into custody, including one young man whose grandmother called 911 to report him to police. After agreeing to let police search her house, Memphis police officers report finding a Smith and Wesson handgun.

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