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Stadium Assault Trial Against Former Dodgers Owner Scheduled for May

The lawsuit is against Frank McCourt, which attributes insufficient security as the cause of an attack on him by two home team fans in the Dodger Stadium parking.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

The new judge managing Bryan Stow's lawsuit against former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt—which attributes insufficient security as the cause of an attack on him by two home team fans in the Dodger Stadium parking— scheduled the trial for May 27 on Friday.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez met for about 15 minutes in chambers with the attorneys to set the new trial date. Trial was originally expected to start late last month, but the judge who formerly supervised the case was reassigned.

Stow suffered a severe brain injury from the attack and sued in May 2011. The defendants in the case have been pared to McCourt and three team entities he created.

No person or entity in the current ownership of the Dodgers faces any potential liability, according to Stow's lead attorney, Thomas Girardi, who praised the security levels at Dodger Stadium under the new regime.

Girardi said after today's hearing that he would have preferred an earlier trial date given Stow's financial needs, but that Chavez had other cases pending trial.

Girardi said Stow's condition has declined because he no longer receives daily physical therapy through his insurance. The regular treatments allowed him to walk as much as 200 feet, but now he is lucky to "take a step or two," Girardi said.

Stow is in "desperate need" of the financial ability that will not only allow him to pay for his medical needs for the rest of his life, but also to care for his two children and send them to college, according to Girardi.

Girardi said McCourt's insurance will cover up to $300 million under the bankruptcy proceedings and that is far more than what Stow would need to cover his damages.

McCourt's ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, recommended that security be improved at Dodger Stadium when she was the team's chief executive officer, but her then- husband thought it was too costly, Girardi said.

Jamie McCourt may be called as a witness if she is available, but otherwise her deposition testimony will be read to the jury, Girardi said.

Girardi said jury selection may be completed within two days.

Among the claims are negligence in the level of security at the stadium, premises liability and negligent hiring.     McCourt's attorneys stated in a 17-page trial brief that security was sufficient at Dodger Stadium the day Stow was attacked.

"The security team deployed at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day 2011 was one of the largest, if not the largest, security presence at a Dodger game in the history of Dodger Stadium," according to the McCourt attorneys' court papers. "That security team numbered 442, including 195 uniformed on-duty Los Angeles Police Department officers."

With more than 55,000 fans in attendance, there was one security personnel member present for every 124 fans at the stadium, according to the McCourt attorneys.

"That security ratio was nearly 10 times greater than the security ratio that the LAPD afforded to the residents of Los Angeles on that same day," their court papers say. "Simply put, the Dodgers provided a significantly higher level of security to Stow ... than he would have found anywhere else in the city of Los Angeles."

Stow, now 44 and a resident of the Santa Cruz area, suffered brain damage in the March 31, 2011, attack that occurred as the San Francisco Giants fan and his companions were in the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the Opening Day game.

Rialto residents Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, both Dodger fans, are accused of repeatedly kicking Stow in the head. They are named in a cross- complaint by McCourt.

The criminal case against Sanchez and Norwood is scheduled to start next month in Los Angeles Superior Court. Girardi said it is not important to the plaintiffs if the civil or criminal trial takes place first.

Another Stow Attorney, David Lira, said previously that Stow will be introduced to prospective jurors and also will be present during opening statements. However, Stow -- who remains in constant pain, is wheelchair- dependent and has the cognitive wherewithal of an adolescent -- will not testify because of his condition, Lira said.

McCourt will be one of the first witnesses in the trial, Lira said.

—City News Service

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