The family of a San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten at Dodger Stadium in March sued the team and its troubled owner Frank McCourt on Tuesday, claiming security cutbacks were partially to blame for the attack.
The suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Bryan Stow contends the Dodgers were negligent by not providing more security and not having adequate lighting in the parking lot where the attack occurred on Opening Day.
Combined, both elements "provided a perfect opportunity to commit a variety of crimes," the lawsuit states. "Unfortunately, for Bryan Stow, this is exactly what happened."
Stow, 42, remains in critical but stable condition under heavy sedation to prevent seizures caused by the traumatic brain injury he suffered in the March 31 attack.
Police arrested Giovanni Ramirez, 31, over the weekend but charges have not yet been filed against him. They have not identified a second attacker and a woman suspected of driving the pair from the scene. Police Chief Charlie Beck called Ramirez the main aggressor.
Email messages left for a spokesman for McCourt and the Dodgers were not immediately returned.
The lawsuit is the latest problem for McCourt, who in recent weeks has seen Major League Baseball appoint a monitor to oversee the Dodgers and his ex-wife ask a judge presiding over their divorce trial to order the sale of the team.
Baseball officials also have said they don't believe McCourt has enough money to make payroll at the end of this month.
Lawyers for Stow say McCourt has mismanaged one of baseball's most storied franchises by spending lavishly since buying the team in 2004 and reducing security during games. Court documents filed in the divorce trial indicate the McCourts took out more than $100 million US in loans from Dodgers-related entities.
Slow to respond
The lawsuit also says Dodgers staff was slow to respond to Stow, taking between 10 and 15 minutes before staffers arrived on the scene. His lawyers also claim Dodger Stadium has more crime than any other MLB venue and the defendants knew the area was unsafe and a haven for known gang members to "meet, plan and carry out criminal activity."
The Dodgers "knew that the decrease in security forces at Dodger Stadium, coupled with the decrease of uniformed officers patrolling the stadium, would lead to increased attacks and criminal activity on their property," the lawsuit said.
Stow, who wore Giants gear to the game, was taunted repeatedly and some Dodgers fans threw peanuts, hot dogs and wrappers at him and his friends, according to the lawsuit.
Stow also sent a text message to a family member during the game about the intimidating scene.
Besides beefing up security and improving the parking lot lights, Stow's attorneys said several other measures could have been taken to prevent the attack, including ejection of disorderly fans, refusal to have known criminals or gang members attend games and the promotion of responsible consumption of alcohol.
The lawsuit points out that a half-off beer promotion was scrapped at Dodger games after the Stow beating.
The stadium has been plagued by violence in the past.
A Giants fan was shot and killed in the parking lot in September 2003. Pete Marron was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Marc Antenorcruz, 25.
In April 2009, a man stabbed his friend in the stadium parking lot after the home opener. Arthur Alvarez was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Alvarez, who contended that he was knocked to the ground and acted in self-defence, was later acquitted by a jury.