Lawyers gave opening statements Thursday in the civil lawsuit against the Dodgers by the family of Bryan Stow, who suffered permanent brain damage after a beating at the stadium. The family is suing the Dodgers' previous ownership alleging security was lax during the opening day game in 2011 between the rival Dodgers and Giants. Current Dodger owners, Guggenheim Partners, are not party to the suit.
Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the beating that nearly killed Stow, a paramedic and father of two.
“These guys were harassing people for hours,” said Tom Girardi, lawyer for the Stow family. “They were doing things that they should have been thrown out of the game for in the third inning,” Girardi told jurors.
He described Sanchez and Norwood getting drunk and stoned, as well as harassing Giants fans in the stands starting in the second inning and continuing into the parking lot after the game. He said they were yelling, cursing, throwing food at Giants fans and shoving them in the parking lot before the Stow beating happened.
“Had security followed the Dodger rules, Bryan would be much different than he is today. But they didn’t,” said Girardi.
Lawyers for the Dodgers' previous ownership suggested 45-year-old Stow himself played a role in the events that led to his being beaten nearly to death.
“The evidence is going to show in this case that Mr. Stow was gravely injured as a result of this testosterone, alcohol-fueled, flash-fire fight,” Dana Fox, attorney for the previous Dodgers ownership, told the jury. “Large amounts of alcohol were consumed by Mr. Stow, who played a role in this."
“Nobody from the Dodgers hit him, kicked him, punched him or laid a hand on him,” Fox said. He said his severe injuries were “caused solely by the conduct of Mr. Sanchez, Mr. Norwood and Mr. Stow.”
But Stow's lawyer said he was walking out of the stadium and got punched from behind. “That isn’t a fight. That is an assault.”
He said if the Dodgers had followed their own security procedures, Sanchez and Norwood should have been kicked out of the stadium hours earlier. He said that if the Dodgers “did what they were supposed to do in the previous three hours, the assault never would have happened.”
In his opening statement, Fox repeated for the jury that the number of security officers inside and outside the stadium on opening day in 2011 was higher than it had ever been. He said the incident boiled down to “a bad comment, a bad shove and some male egos. That’s how this happened.”
Fox concluded by acknowledging that this is “a tragic case.” He said “sympathy is undeniable,” but he thanked the jury ahead of time for “setting aside that sympathy in deciding this case.”
The Stow family is asking for $35 million in damages, including covering costs for past medical payments and future medical care.
Girardi says Stow won’t take the stand in this case because his brain damage is so severe, “he is not capable of testifying. So others will testify. His mom, his dad, his physician.” His lawyer also said Stow needs 24-hour care and “his mom and dad have devoted their life to taking care of him.”
— Shirley Jahad
Previously: Opening statements are set in a lawsuit brought by beating victim Bryan Stow against the Los Angeles Dodgers and its former owner, Frank McCourt.
The civil negligence case is set to start in a Los Angeles court on Thursday.
A jury was selected Wednesday after lawyers spent all day questioning prospects after reading through their answers to a six-page written questionnaire.
Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan whose beating at Dodgers Stadium became a symbol of violence associated with sports events, sat in court in a specially equipped wheelchair as prospective jurors were questioned. Two men pleaded guilty to assaulting him.
The civil jury will decide whether the Dodgers and McCourt provided sufficient security on April 2011 for the opening game with Los Angeles' fierce rival, the San Francisco Giants.
Stow suffered brain damage and is permanently disabled.
— The Associated Press
This story has been updated.
Correction: An earlier version of this story accidentally referred to Mr. Fox as a she in one instance. KPCC regrets the error.