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Beating victim's case against Dodgers underway



BY LINDA DEUTSCH
AP SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers had insufficient security when San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was severely beaten in a Dodger Stadium parking lot after the 2011 opening day game between the California rivals, an attorney told jurors Thursday in opening statements of the trial of a lawsuit seeking damages from the team and former owner Frank McCourt.

The defense countered that there was more security than at any other Dodgers opening day and that responsibility for the injuries lay with the two men who pleaded guilty to the attack and with Stow himself for being intoxicated and exchanging taunts with the assailants.

Stow's attorney, Tom Girardi, outlined his case in a packed courtroom, but his brain-damaged client was not present.

Stow, 45, had observed jury selection from a wheelchair, but Girardi said outside court that it had been too much for the former paramedic from Northern California. He requires constant care, which his lawyers say could cost $50 million over his lifetime.

Girardi said that the Dodgers cut costs by using more non-uniformed off-duty police officers than uniformed officers, who cost more. "The deterrent effect of having an officer in blue means a lot to everybody," he said.

Girardi described a rowdy atmosphere at the game, with a crowd of 56,000 and tempers running high because of the teams' fierce rivalry.

"There was a lot of hostility," he said. "It's different than going to a night at the symphony at the Hollywood Bowl."

During the game, one of Stow's eventual assailants was throwing food and soda at people sitting near him in the stands, Girardi said. "All of the time there was this yelling and screaming and throwing stuff at these nice people there was no security," he said.

Attorney Dana Fox, representing the Dodgers and McCourt, said a capacity crowd was expected and the Dodgers took it seriously.

"The evidence is going to show in this case Mr. Stow was gravely injured because of a testosterone- and alcohol-fueled flash-fire fight in the parking lot," Fox said. "Some of this was caused by Mr. Stow, who consumed a lot of alcohol. He drank liquor and beer before the game and beer during the game."

When Stow arrived at the hospital, his blood-alcohol level was 0.149 percent, and forensics experts will show that at the time of the fight his level was between 0.16 percent and 0.20 percent, Fox said. The legal limit for driving is 0.08 percent.

Girardi earlier told jurors that the Stow's blood-alcohol level as it related to the standard for drunken driving was irrelevant because Stow and his friends had taken a taxi to the stadium and afterward were heading to the street to take another taxi.

Fox, however, contended that "it is not legal to be drunk in public when you can't care for yourself and others."

The defense attorney said the Dodgers had assembled "the largest security force ever for an opening day in their entire history," including 437 officers and security guards, Fox said. The sworn officers included police and California Highway Patrol, and the FBI was also present because an opening day game is considered a potential target for a terrorist threat, he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department and FBI had command posts at the stadium, and the FBI also had cameras, Fox said.

The Dodgers' security cost for that day was $66,604 out of a season-long budget of $2.185 million, he said.

The team's attorney told the jury the only issue was whether the Dodgers acted reasonably or were negligent.

While Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood acted criminally and despicably in attacking Stow, the Dodgers were not responsible for their actions, Fox said.

"If they (plaintiffs) do not prove the Dodgers were a substantial factor in causing the injuries, they lose. The standard in this case is whether my clients acted reasonably," he said.

Witnesses at a preliminary hearing testified that security guards were not present in the parking lot where Stow was beaten and kicked by Sanchez and Norwood. The pair wore Dodgers gear, and Stow wore a Giants shirt.

Sanchez pleaded guilty to one count of mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Norwood pleaded guilty to one count of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to four years. Both still face unrelated federal firearms charges.

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Ed Jakowski May 29 2014 at 11:50 PM

OK, the Dodgers didn't beat this drunk guy up! Do I feel sorry for the guy? Yes I do, but this could have happened no matter how much security they had. This guy is just looking for a winning lottery ticket. Again some Lawyer trying to cash in on a high profile news story. This is why tickets to a ballgame cost sooo much. Lawyers are distroying America.

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15 replies
arloxix May 30 2014 at 2:34 AM

what if stow had been on a public street and got beaten ... you going to sue the city for not having a police officer on the corner ... what if he had been on someones lawn ... private property ... you going to sue the home owner for not having security at your house ... GET A LIFE PEOPLE ...

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5 replies
muffin May 29 2014 at 11:03 PM

The man with the less serious charge gets 8 years with the more serious charge gets 4 years. That's lawyers and the US flawed justice system. Sorry for the injured man. I hope the jury can sort out the facts. Yes, the man needs money for his care, but he also has to assume his part in the fracas.

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4 replies
robyn May 30 2014 at 12:16 AM

im sorry but the team should not pay for this man. it is not their fault this happened. hold the people who's actions did this as the ones responsiable. when you go to an event you go at your own risk, and if your drinking then you know your not in your best mind and actions. you have to responsiable for your actions as others are for theirs. the team, the owners, or anyone other then the person who did this crime should pay for his care, and even then i dont think he owes them for life. the victim was drunk and also took part in this fight which makes him to blame also.

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6 replies
dennis May 30 2014 at 8:09 AM

It's a sad indictment of our society when we see this lack of personal responsibility. Those days are long gone I am afraid, with the proliferation of ambulance chasing attorney's promising BIG returns to anyone if they are allowed to take the case. Then suing the person with the deep pockets, (In this case, the L.A. Dodgers,) hoping the Dodger's Organization will roll over and pay out just to settle the case and ditch the negative publicity. While I share everyone's concern for this young man's injuries, his lifetime care is partially his own fault and if there is any monies to be awarded, it should come from his attackers, if it take garnishing both attackers wages for the rest of their natural lives, they should be forced to pay. The Dodger organization cannot be held responsible for the actions of irresponsible fans. There MUST BE acceptance of personal responsibility which as I read the article, there is none. Just my thoughts.

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4 replies
Nacho May 29 2014 at 11:37 PM

this is why we need to be armed . its always after the fact they want to put more security the damage is done the poor guy who helped many in his line of work has to suffer because california is so anti gun . what part of the police can not be everyware all the time
now this guys family has to suffer in my world this is bull **** . law abiding people who want to carry a weapon should be allowed to . its our constitutional right but we the people of california like giving our rights away.

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22 replies
dvanbib441 May 30 2014 at 1:27 AM

guy showed no resposibility. also no help from "friends" he was with. he was dead drunk at that level and didn't care

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Bill May 29 2014 at 11:00 PM

What about the people who did the ACTUAL BEATING of Mr Stow

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10 replies
blu55081 May 30 2014 at 12:24 AM

the reason he's not suing the actual people responsible is they have no money. i hope he loses. i am so sick of these stories. any sympathy i might have goes out the window.

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quarterz25 May 30 2014 at 7:26 AM

Ah yes go after the deep pockets for your own mistake. Why isn't this guy sueing the 2 dirtbags that actually hurt him? Answer: the 2 guys don't have any money. I really don't have any sympathy for this guy. He put himself in this position, by drinking irresponsibly. He will have to live with his bad choices for the rest of his life. It's sad he is damaged that bad but when he wants to find the cause he just needs to look in the mirror.

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