LOS ANGELES (AP) – A San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damage in a beating at Dodger Stadium won his negligence suit against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, but former owner Frank McCourt was absolved by the jury.
The jury found damages of about $18 million but said the Dodgers were responsible for only a quarter of the sum. The rest of the responsibility was split between the two men who beat fan Bryan Stow.
The jury delivered its verdict in a Los Angeles courtroom after weeks of testimony about the assault after the opening day game in 2011 between the rival teams.
Stow’s lawyers claimed the team and its former owner failed to provide adequate security at the stadium. The defense countered that security was stronger than ever at an opening day contest and Stow was partially to blame because he was drunk.
The lawsuit sought millions of dollars for 45-year-old Bryan Stow, who was left with disabling brain damage following the attack in a stadium parking lot after an opening day game between the California rivals.
Dodger fans Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood pleaded guilty in the attack after a lengthy preliminary hearing in which witnesses said security guards were absent from the parking lot where Stow was attacked.
Noted personal injury lawyer Tom Girardi filed the lawsuit on behalf of Stow, seeking $37.5 million for his lifetime care and compensation for lost earnings. He also urged jurors to award double that figure for pain and suffering.
Dana Fox, the lawyer for the Dodgers and McCourt, argued that they bore no responsibility for the attack. In closing arguments, he showed jurors enlarged photos of Sanchez and Norwood and said they were responsible along with Stow himself.
Fox cited testimony that Stow’s blood-alcohol level was .18 percent – more than twice the legal limit for driving – and a witness account of Stow yelling in the parking lot with his arms up in the air.
“There were three parties responsible – Sanchez, Norwood and, unfortunately, Stow himself. There were things Mr. Stow did that put these things in action,” Fox said.
He added, “You don’t get yourself this drunk and then say it’s not your fault.”
Girardi contended the team and McCourt had failed to provide enough security to keep Stow and other fans safe at the game.
“Dodger Stadium got to a place where it was a total mess,” Girardi told jurors. “There was a culture of violence. Beer sales were off the charts.”
He also said, “The only thing Bryan Stow was doing was wearing a jersey that said ‘Giants.'”
Fox insisted Stow should receive no damages.
“We would be heartless and inhuman not to feel sympathy for Mr. Stow,” Fox said. “These are life-altering injuries.”
However, he reminded jurors that they had promised not to let sympathy influence their verdict.
Toward the end of the trial, Stow was brought to court in his wheelchair and positioned front and center where jurors could see the ghastly scars on his head where his skull was temporarily removed during medical efforts to save his life.
Experts testified that Stow will never work again and has suffered repeated strokes and seizures. They said he will always require around the clock care.
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.