By BILL HETHERMAN
City News Service
A jury today awarded roughly $18 million in damages to a San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten into a coma outside Dodger Stadium in 2011, but the panel found the Dodgers were only partially responsible for the attack that Bryan Stow blamed on inadequate security.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury exonerated former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt of any culpability in the attack that left Stow with permanent brain damage.
According to Stow attorney Thomas Girardi, the Los Angeles Dodgers LLC -- the business entity created by McCourt when he owned the team -- will have to pay Stow and his family about $14 million the jurors awarded for past and future medical expenses and loss of earnings. The company will pay 25 percent of the remaining roughly $4 million jurors awarded for pain and suffering.
"The amount under the law involving medical expenses in the past, all the future medical expenses, all the past loss of earnings and all the future loss of earnings, which is about $14 million, just in rough terms, the Dodgers have to -- the LLC, this is the McCourt Dodgers ... they have to pay all of that," Girardi said. "Then with respect to pain and suffering, about $4 million or so, they only have to pay 25 percent of that."
The six-man, six-woman panel assigned the rest of the blame for Stow's injuries on Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, the two men who attacked Stow in parking lot 2 on March 31, 2011.
The current ownership of the Dodgers was not targeted in the lawsuit and has no liability in the case.
"So in other words, this is a nice nest egg for this family, desperately needed," Girardi said. "The law has done some good for them."
Girardi said the jury sent a message with its verdict.
"This is telling those people that run ... stadiums all over the country that they better watch your back," Girardi said. "Because before it was just, 'OK, somebody assaulted somebody, that isn't my problem.' This tells (them) for the first time, 'Listen here, man, you better protect the people that come to your stadium. You better watch the beer sales. ... You better have people in the parking lot.
"... This has a huge impact."
Jurors also found that Stow bore no responsibility in the attack, despite claims by attorneys for McCourt and the Dodgers that he had been drinking and antagonized his attackers. The 45-year-old Capitola resident was not present for the verdict.
Stow's mother, Ann Stow, said she was pleased with the verdict.
"We've been waiting three years for this," she said. "The trial was scheduled and rescheduled a couple of times so it's nice to know that we're standing here with a verdict in Bryan's favor, so we're happy."
She also said the verdict was "a big weight off of our shoulders."
Stow's father, David Stow, said he was not disappointed that the jury awarded less than half of the damages his son's attorneys were seeking.
"The thing is that he's going to get help for his future," he said. "He's not going to be 100 percent."
The verdict was reached exactly one week after the jury declared itself to be hopelessly deadlocked. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez, however, ordered the panel to continue talking.
The courtroom was filled nearly to capacity for the verdict. Those in attendance included summer law school interns and other judges in the courthouse.
Stow, who is in a wheelchair, was not in court when the verdict was read.
Stow was punched from behind by Sanchez after the 2011 home opener between the Dodgers and their longtime rivals. Sanchez and Norwood then kicked Stow, a father of two, after he fell to the ground. The attack left Stow suffering from permanent brain damage.
Stow's attorneys maintained security was insufficient and that no officers or guards were present in parking lot 2 when Stow was attacked. They said Sanchez and Norwood should have been ejected from Dodger Stadium hours earlier for unruly behavior and that more uniformed security at the stadium could have deterred their misconduct.
But McCourt's attorneys said the team spent more money on opening day security in 2011 than in previous years and that the attack on Stow happened so fast, security personnel would have had to have been right there as it developed in order to prevent it.
Sanchez, 31, and Norwood, 33, pleaded guilty in January to carrying out the attack on Stow and were sentenced to eight- and four-year terms, respectively. They are also both facing a federal weapons charge that could land them in a federal lockup for up to 10 years.
Girardi said in closing arguments that Stow deserves $36 million in damages plus punitive damages because McCourt put saving money ahead of fan safety.
Attorneys for McCourt countered that Stow's medical costs will be only between $6.5 million and $11 million.
Defense attorney Dana Fox said no damages should be awarded because Stow's attorneys did not prove any liability on the part of McCourt and the team, and he scoffed at Girardi's suggestion that Stow deserved punitive damages, saying there was no evidence the defendants acted with malice.