Wednesday, 4. December 2013
The Mall of America is standing firm in their belief that Serge The Cheer Spreader, the Twin Cities man who threw $1,000 worth of dollar bills from the 4th floor rotunda, inappropriately caused a disturbance that could have severely injured many.
“Somebody could’ve gotten seriously hurt, and we hope that that’s the message people walk away with,” said Mall of America Public Relations Vice President Dan Jasper. “Our rotunda is four stories tall, it’s more than 45 feet tall. God forbid somebody had fallen down over the railing, or on the ground floor. God forbid people had gone crazy … scrambling for the money.”
We wrote about Serge’s story in a blog post on Monday. In a nutshell, Serge had been going through some tough times. His business venture had failed, he was going through a rough divorce, and his ex had taken his cat. Struggling to make ends meet, Serge decided that he needed a little positivity in his life, so he took the last $1,000 out of his bank account and rode the escalators up to the fourth floor of the mall’s rotunda. When the choir below began to sing the holiday tune “Let It Snow,” Serge decided it was a good time to make it rain money.
Spectators below acted quickly in swooping up the cash, but overall everyone acted appropriately and the mall later confirmed that nobody had been injured. That didn’t stop the Bloomington police from issuing Serge a ticket for Disorderly Conduct.
As part of the misdemeanor citation, Serge will have to make a court appearance to issue a plea. The misdemeanor violation is punishable by a fine and/or jail time.
Attorney Mel Welch Sounds Off
The saga continues. In a previous blog posting, we discussed Serge the Car-Hauler’s act of generosity in sharing his last thousand dollars with random strangers in an act of manic magnanimity. Now, having been roundly ridiculed by the news and talk radio, the Mall of America has doubled down on its position and would like the public to know that they acted prudently to save you from the horrifying consequences of this man’s generosity – and the possible liability they possess for any accidents which could occur in such an instance.
Dan Jasper lists the multitude of nightmare possibilities that could have happened: a person could have fallen down over the railing; fallen on the ground floor; scrambled for the money; knocked over a person in a wheelchair or a baby-stroller. Heaven forbid a person shares their bounty, and creates such potential civil liabilities in the MOA for an injury.
But that’s not the standard of this crime – the corporate business MOA protecting themselves from civil liability, and keeping the egg off of their face for such an extreme response to Serge’s beneficent act. The standard is that the State must prove Serge acted (1) boisterously or interrupted an assembly, and (2) that he acted with reason to know his acts would “alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace.” Minn. Stat. sect. 609.72.
The wild speculation offered by the self-interested spokesperson from the MOA hardly carries the convincing weight of showing Serge’s acts were criminal; rather it reinforces the perception of an intransigent Bloomington Police Department (who, presumably, enjoy a close, lucrative relationship with MOA by working their off-duty, overtime hours there), and an antiseptic, corporate number cruncher.
However, corporate desire to avoid liability, or the exposure to risk of liability, cannot and should not make use of the State’s power of prosecution to avoid that risk. Criminal is a thing clearly different from civil liability – and something completely different from this munificent act by Serge the Cheer Spreader.
Related source: CBS Minnesota