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Jury Awards Giants Fan $18 Million in Damages for Attack at Dodger Stadium PDF Print E-mail
Written by By Bill Hetherman, City News Service   
Thursday, 10 July 2014 01:32

AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Al Seib.

A wheelchair bound Bryan Stow, assisted by a caregiver, is surrounded by family and media as he is led into the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 25, as the trial goes into the last day before closing arguments for the trial of Stow's lawsuit against former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and three team entities he created. The suit filed on behalf of the San Francisco Giants fan alleges the franchise was negligent for not having enough security to prevent an Opening Day 2011 attack by Dodger fans that left him with permanent brain damage.

LOS ANGELES — A jury has awarded roughly $18 million in damages to a San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten into a coma outside Dodger Stadium in 2011, but the panel found the Dodgers were only 25 percent responsible for the attack that Bryan Stow blamed on inadequate security.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury exonerated former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt of any culpability in the attack that left Stow with permanent brain damage.

According to Stow attorney Thomas Girardi, the Los Angeles Dodgers LLC — the business entity created by McCourt when he owned the team — will have to pay Stow and his family about $14 million the jurors awarded for past and future medical expenses and loss of earnings. The company will pay 25 percent of the remaining roughly $4 million jurors awarded for pain and suffering.

The six-man, six-woman panel assigned the rest of the blame for Stow’s injuries on Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, the two men who attacked Stow in parking lot 2 on March 31, 2011.

The current ownership of the Dodgers was not targeted in the lawsuit and has no liability in the case.

“So in other words, this is a nice nest egg for this family, desperately needed,” Girardi said. “The law has done some good for them.”

Jurors also found that Stow himself bore no responsibility in the attack, despite claims by attorneys for McCourt and the Dodgers that he had been drinking and antagonized his attackers.

The verdict was reached exactly one week after the jury declared itself to be hopelessly deadlocked. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez, however, ordered the panel to continue talking.

Stow was punched from behind by Sanchez after the 2011 home opener between the Dodgers and their longtime rivals. Sanchez and Norwood then kicked Stow, a father of two, after he fell to the ground. The attack left Stow suffering from permanent brain damage and confined to a wheelchair.

Stow’s attorneys maintained security was insufficient and that no officers or guards were present in parking lot 2 when Stow was attacked. They said Sanchez and Norwood should have been ejected from Dodger Stadium hours earlier for unruly behavior and that more uniformed security at the stadium could have deterred their misconduct.

But McCourt's attorneys said the team spent more money on opening day security in 2011 than in previous years and that the attack on Stow happened so fast, security personnel would have had to have been right there as it developed in order to prevent it.

Sanchez, 31, and Norwood, 33, pleaded guilty in January to carrying out the attack on Stow and were sentenced to eightand four-year terms, respectively. They are also both facing a federal weapons charge that could land them in a federal lockup for up to 10 years.

Stow’s lead attorney, Thomas Girardi, said in closing arguments that Stow deserves $36 million in damages plus punitive damages because McCourt put saving money ahead of fan safety.

Attorneys for McCourt countered that Stow's medical costs will be only between $6.5 million and $11 million.

Defense attorney Dana Fox said no damages should be awarded because Stow's attorneys did not prove any liability on the part of McCourt and the team, and he scoffed at Girardi’s suggestion that Stow deserved punitive damages, saying there was no evidence the defendants acted with malice.

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