Thursday, July 10, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damage in a beating in a Dodger Stadium parking lot won his negligence lawsuit Wednesday, with a jury agreeing that the Dodgers didn't provide adequate security and were partly to blame for the attack.
Bryan Stow's father said his son probably wouldn't understand the details of the settlement that will give him about $14 million from the Dodgers, "but Bryan will know that he got some help today."
"He's not going to be 100 percent, maybe for a long time, maybe never. What he gets is going to help him through now, and that's what he needs," Dave Stow said.
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, 45, was left with disabling brain damage and became a symbol of violence at sporting events. He was in the courtroom for part of the trial, his wheelchair positioned front and center so jurors could see the ghastly scars on his head where his skull was temporarily removed during efforts to save his life.
Experts testified that the former Northern California paramedic Stow will never work again and has suffered repeated strokes and seizures. They said he will require around-the-clock care.
Lawyers for Stow claimed the team and former owner Frank McCourt failed to provide adequate security. In split decisions, jurors found that the Dodgers were negligent but absolved McCourt. In civil cases, only nine of 12 jurors must agree on the verdict.
The Dodgers "did have a (security) plan but somewhere along the line that plan broke. And it needed to be fixed," juror Carlos Munoz said after the verdict. "Hopefully we helped to fix it. ... If you're going to own a stadium, do it right."
Jurors determined that Stow suffered about $18 million in damages in the form of lost earnings, medical expenses and pain and mental suffering. The Dodgers must pay $13.9 million of that because while finding the team negligent, jurors assigned it only a portion of the responsibility for Stow's harm.
Stow's attackers shared the rest of the responsibility for Stow's harm, jurors determined. However, they weren't sued and so cannot be required to pay a share of the damages.
Stow's parents pronounced themselves satisfied with the jury's award even though it is less than half of what they had sought.
"We'll make it work for him," said Stow's mother, Ann Stow.
The defense had argued that security was stronger than ever at an opening day contest and contended that Stow was partially to blame because he was drunk.
But jurors were unanimous in deciding that Stow's own negligence wasn't a substantial factor in causing his harm. Stow's mother said she held her husband's hand as the court read that part of the verdict form.
"I was so ecstatic because we know our son and we know that the picture the defense was trying to portray was not Bryan at all," Ann Stow said.
They said they had not spoken to their son, who did not attend the hearing, but did talk to his sisters and expected they would talk to him.
In San Francisco, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy for the family that there was finally a verdict.
"What happened shouldn't have happened. We have to keep that in mind. But also for the fans coming to the ballpark, you need the proper security," he said. "It shouldn't be a situation where you're afraid to go to a game or you can't enjoy yourself."
Dodgers fans Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood pleaded guilty to the attack in criminal court after a lengthy preliminary hearing in which witnesses said security guards were absent from the parking lot where Stow was attacked.
The complicated civil case even threw jurors at one point, who announced last week that they were deadlocked. The judge ordered them to resume deliberations.
"They struggled through it," Dana Fox, an attorney for the Dodgers, said after the verdict. "Remember, after four days they had not found liability on the part of the defendants. That is quite telling, I think, in and of itself."
In the wake of the attack, the Dodgers and Los Angeles police increased their security at games, including adding more patrols and undercover officers wearing rival team jerseys.
Associated Press writers Antonio Gonzalez in San Francisco, and Raquel Maria Dillon and Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles contributed to this report.