A jury found the Los Angeles Dodgers negligent in a 2011 assault on a fan at their stadium that left him permanently disabled, ordering the team to pay $15 million in civil damages, but cleared the former baseball club owner of liability.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury reached its verdict on the ninth day of deliberations over the lawsuit brought by Bryan Stow, a father of two and former paramedic from northern California, who was beaten by two men in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after a season-opening game against the San Francisco Giants.
The lawsuit alleged that the Dodgers and Frank McCourt, who was the team’s owner at the time, were to blame for inadequate stadium security that Stow said created an unsafe atmosphere where criminals felt it was okay to prey on others.
The defense attorneys argued that the blame should instead be placed on the two men, Louis Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the attack and were sentenced to prison terms of eight and four years, respectively.
The jury agreed the two men were mostly responsible for the harm caused to Stow but also found that the Dodgers as a team bore 25 percent of the responsibility.
Under the law, the finding of negligence as a substantial factor in the harm Stow suffered rendered the Dodgers 100 percent liable for $14 million in damages awarded for his economic losses, such as lost earnings and medical expenses.
But the Dodgers bear only 25 percent of liability for the additional $4 million awarded for pain and suffering, bringing the total judgment against the team to $15 million.
Stow, 45, who was present in a wheelchair for two days of the trial, was not at the courthouse for the verdict. He had sought more than $37 million for past and future medical care, lost earnings and the college education of his two children.
Although the six men and six women who heard the case had told the judge that they were unable to reach a verdict, they were ordered to continue deliberating.
Sanchez punched Stow from behind after the 2011 home game between the Dodgers and their longtime rivals. After Stow fell to the ground, Sanchez and Norwood then kicked him. The attack left Stow with permanent brain damage and confined to a wheelchair.
In the end, they split 9-3 both in favor of finding the Dodgers negligent and of exonerating McCourt, who sold the team to new owners in 2012.
Jurors were unanimous in clearing Stow himself of any negligence in the incident, despite defense claims that he was drunk at the time and may have antagonized the attack.
Do you think the Dodgers were negligent due to their lax in security? Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).