American Dream sued by woman who says she was injured by motorized stuffed animal ride

March 8, 2024

You may have seen those large motorized stuffed animals that kids and parents ride through some parts of the American Dream mall. They include plushy zebras, elephants tigers and hippos.

An elderly woman is suing the East Rutherford mega-mall and ride operator, alleging she was struck and seriously injured by those animals.

It marks the latest legal trouble for the beleaguered retail and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands. Those legal woes range from a broken leg to slip-and-falls, knocked-out teeth, unpaid construction bills and defaults on a multimillion-dollar loan.


The venue was 86% leased as of Dec. 31, 2023, public records show. In 2022, reported that the mall owed at least $9 million in negotiated payments to a total of 14 towns in the region. Local officials said those payments were due when the mall opened its theme park in October 2019.

But the officials said the megamall wasn’t making the payments, with the mall allegedly arguing that it was not on the hook for those payments because the mall wasn’t 100% leased and was not technically fully open. Officials including East Rutherford Mayor Jeffrey Lahullier questioned whether the mall would ever be at 100%.

The lawsuits and failure to pay debts “has the effect of buying them time, which gives them the opportunity to renegotiate things” more in the mall owners’ favor, said Marc Pfeiffer, assistant director at Rutgers University’s Bloustein local government research center., March 8, 2024

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