A San Francisco Giants fan who suffered brain damage in a stadium parking lot beating won his negligence suit against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, with a jury awarding about $18 million US but dividing responsibility among the club and the two men who beat him.
Plaintiff's attorney Tom Girardi said the verdict means the Dodgers must pay about $14 million in economic losses and a portion of a separate sum for pain and suffering, which adds about $1 million more.
The jury delivered its verdict in a Los Angeles courtroom after weeks of testimony about the assault on Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium after the opening day game in 2011 between the rival teams.
Dave Stow said his brain-damaged son probably wouldn't understand the details if Wednesday's verdict.
"But Bryan will know that he got some help today," he said.
Lawyers for the 45-year-old Stow claimed the Dodgers and former owner Frank McCourt failed to provide adequate security at the stadium. The defence countered that security was stronger than ever at an opening day contest and Stow was partially to blame because he was drunk.
McCourt was absolved by the jury on Wednesday.
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.
The jury's finding was "a lot better than what we had," Dave Stow said.
"He did get some money to help the future and that's what we wanted — we wanted help," he said. "He's not going to be 100 per cent, maybe for a long time, maybe never. What he gets is going to help him through now, and that's what he needs."
"We'll make it work for him," mother Ann Stow agreed.
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.
Stow's mother said she held her husband's hand as the court read the part of the verdict in which jurors found her son not liable for the attack. That verdict was unanimous, unlike the other two, in which jurors split over whether the Dodgers or McCourt were liable.
"I was so ecstatic because we know our son and we know that the picture the defence was trying to portray was not Bryan at all," Ann Stow said.
Girardi had asked for more than double the $18 million sum, but said he still considered it a victory.
Dodgers decline comment
Attorneys for the Dodgers and McCourt declined comment after court.
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 per cent — 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."'