Gordon Tokumatsu, Scott Spiro
A jury has found the Los Angeles Dodgers negligent in the 2011 Bryan Stow beating. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.
The Los Angeles Dodgers organization must pay millions of dollars in damages after it was found negligent Wednesday in the beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, severely injured when he was attacked by two men in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the 2011 opening day game.
A lawsuit filed on behalf Stow accused the Dodgers organization and the team's former owner of failing to provide adequate security on the night of the attack. Payment of the $18 million in damages will be divided among the Dodgers organization and the two men who accepted plea deals in the criminal case.
Former owner Frank McCourt was absolved by the jury.
"I think it's going to be good," said Stow attorney Tom Girardi after the decision was announced. "It's going to take some pressure off his mom and dad. We're going to get some help for that."
The jury's decision means the Dodgers organization will pay about $14 million in economic losses and a quarter of the pain and suffering sum, adding about $1 million more, according to Girardi.
The verdict was reached after nine full days of deliberations that included testimony from Stow's friends and family members, Dodgers security officials and McCourt. Stow's parents said they were appreciative of the time and consideration jurors gave the case.
"I don't even understand what happened in there, but Bryan will understand that he got some help today," said father David Stow.
Jurors told the judge last Wednesday that they were deadlocked and could not reach a decision, but the judge asked them to continue deliberations. The panel told the judge members were unable to reach a consensus of at least nine jurors on the question of whether there was negligence by former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
The case appeared headed for a possible deadlock, until jurors indicated late Wednesday morning that they reached a decision.
"It's an amazing turnaround," said NBC4 legal analyst Royal Oakes. "There are dozens of questions they had to answer when it comes to damages, and that's probably why it took so long to do this.."
Girardi asked in closing arguments that Stow be paid $36 million for his lifetime care and double that amount for pain and suffering. That figure would cover his out-of-pocket medical and other expenses and help relieve the family's burden of care, Girardi said.
"This is a solid thing for us," Girardi said of the final amount.
A lawyer for the team and McCourt said Stow should get nothing and claimed the only people to blame are the two men who pleaded guilty to assault in the case's criminal trial.
Stow, 45, did not testify at either trial. He was in a wheelchair when he appeared in court twice during the civil trial.
The case drew strong reaction from players and fans, including members of the Stow family, who called for an end to violence at sports venues. That "culture of violence" and failures by the Dodgers organization to control it led to the parking lot attack, according to attorney's for Stow.
"Dodger Stadium got to a place where it was a total mess," Girardi told jurors during his closing argument. "There was a culture of violence. Beer sales were off the charts."
But an attorney for McCourt and the team countered that there was more security than at any other Dodgers opening day in history. He also said Stow helped set the chain of events in motion, citing testimony that Stow's blood-alcohol level was .18 -- 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 things Mr. Stow did that put these things in action," attorney Dana Fox said.
Stow's lawyer countered that the only thing Stow did was wear a Giants jersey on a day when emotions were running high among fans. The jury found that Stow was not liable in the attack.
Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, who were not named in the lawsuit, accepted plea deals in February. Sanchez, 31, pleaded guilty to a felony count of mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison for the attack on Bay Area paramedic and father. Norwood, 32, pleaded guilty to assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to four years in prison.
As part of the plea agreement, all other charges against the men -- whom a judge "complete cowards" at their sentencing hearing -- were dropped.
Norwood and Sanchez were arrested after a man initially identified as the prime suspect was exonerated months after his arrested in connection with the attack. A lawsuit against the LAPD by Giovanni Ramirez, held on a probation violation involving access to a firearm, was dismissed in January 2013.