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Jurors Begin Deliberations in Dodger Stadium Parking Lot Beating Case

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Jurors began their first full day of deliberations today in an effort to decide whether lax Dodger Stadium security born of corporate negligence was to blame for a vicious attack that left a San Francisco Giants fan confined to a wheelchair and suffering from permanent brain damage.

The suit against the Dodgers and former team owner Frank McCourt stemmed from a beating that Bryan Stow, a Santa Cruz paramedic who was in Giants gear at the time, suffered at the hands of two Rialto men -- Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood -- in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on March 31, 2011.

An attorney for Stow said in closing arguments Thursday that Stow deserves $36 million in damages plus punitive damages because McCourt put saving money ahead of fan safety on opening day 2011.

"It's his ball game. He has to keep that property safe," said Thomas Girardi.

Girardi said $36 million would cover Stow's out-of-pocket medical and other expenses and help relieve the burden on his family to provide him care. But Stow also is deserving of more money for his pain and suffering, as well as to punish the defendants for failing to protect him, Girardi said.

Attorneys for the Dodgers counter that Stow's medical costs will be between $6.5 million and $11 million and not more than $30 million, as the plaintiff contends, and that Stow was drunk the night he was beaten, antagonizing the assailants and helping to trigger the incident.

"There were things that Mr. Stow did that put things into action," said defense attorney Dana Fox.

He 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.

"There is no evidence the Dodgers intentionally disregarded Mr. Stow," Fox said.

Stow was punched from behind by Sanchez after the 2011 home opener between the Dodgers and their longtime rivals. Sanchez and his friend, Norwood, then kicked the Northern California father of two after he fell to the ground.

Stow's attorneys maintain security was insufficient inside and outside the stadium and that no officers or guards were present in lot 2 when Stow was attacked. They also say Sanchez and Norwood should have been ejected from Dodger Stadium hours earlier for unruly behavior and that more uniformed security within the stadium could have deterred their misconduct.

Fox disputed the cost-cutting argument, saying more money was spent on security on opening day security in 2011 than in previous years. He added that the attack on Stow happened so fast that security personnel would have had to have been in the presence of all three men as it developed 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. McCourt is no longer team owner.

—City News Service

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