Remember the case of Venus Costello, the New Jersey mother who sued Target for negligence after her young son played on one of those concrete big red balls outside the store, and fell off?

Nearly two and a half years after the incident, the case still isn’t over – but it might be soon, if Target has its way. The retailer is fighting back, by pinning the blame on the boy’s aunt, who it says is really responsible for the boy’s fall and subsequent injuries.

Target filed a third-party complaint this week against Liza Costello, who accompanied the 5-year-old boy to Target that day back in September 2015. Venus Costello, who filed the lawsuit in 2016, wasn’t even there at the time, Target pointed out.

During a deposition, Target says Liza Costello “testified that she was distracted, and not facing the plaintiff’s direction when he fell.” She “also admitted that she was somewhat at fault for the accident.”

Target contends she was fully at fault. “It is our position that Liza Costello failed to supervise the minor plaintiff, and her recklessness, carelessness and/or negligence was a proximate cause of the accident.”

Target is asking the judge to find Liza Costello to blame for the accident, and hold her responsible for any damages.


In her lawsuit, Venus Costello said her son suffered serious injuries to his right arm and elbow that required surgery, after he was “playing on and around the large red balls/objects located at the entrance and was caused to fall to the ground.” She’s seeking $1.5 million to cover her son’s medical expenses and pain and suffering, plus an additional $100,000 for herself.

She argued that the very presence of the red balls, which are meant to keep cars from driving up onto the curb, is a danger for which Target should be held responsible. She claimed Target was “negligent in failing to design such large red balls/objects that would protect children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed” by them. Target failed in its responsibilities to give “any notice of warning of dangers and hazards,” she claimed, and failed “to properly inspect and keep children from playing on said large red balls/objects.”

A 2016 Coupons in the News article on the case generated plenty of spirited comments, most siding with Target. “The front of the store isn’t a playground,” one commenter wrote. “Accidents happen all the time. Just because you weren’t watching doesn’t mean you get to sue someone,” another offered. “Target should sue her for being stupid,” a third commenter added.

This isn’t the only time Target has been sued for an accident involving those concrete red balls. Last year, a New York woman sued the retailer after a red ball was knocked loose when a vehicle hit it. The giant ball went rolling through the parking lot and smashed into Eileen Grady’s car – all of which was captured on video. Those things weigh two tons, Grady discovered, and the damage to her car showed it – she claimed it cost her more than $3,300 for repairs. She sued for more than $100,000 in damages, to cover the cost of the repairs and to reimburse her for her “pain and suffering and anxiety”.

Target claims the unknown driver of the vehicle that struck the ball is really at fault, while Grady says a slow-moving vehicle that merely grazed the ball should not have been able to dislodge it unless Target was negligent in installing or maintaining it. Her case is still making its way through the courts.

In the Costello case, meanwhile, the verdict is still out on who ultimately will be held responsible for the injuries to the boy, who presumably now is well aware of the dangers of playing on those big red balls. They may look like fun, but the next time you take a playful kid to Target – better stick to the toy aisle.

Photo by Me in ME

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