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Jury finds the Dodgers partially negligent, awards $18 million to Bryan Stow

Jul 9, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

Bryan Stow AP

UPDATE: Apparently the allocation of damages is much more complicated than I first assumed. Specifics of California tort law and the old bankruptcy order governing the Dodgers’ liabilities at the time change the calculus here. So, while the $18 million verdict still represents the top that Stow can recover, the Dodgers may be on the hook for as much as $14 million of the jury award.

Wednesday, 5:03 PM: The jury verdict in the Bryan Stow civil case has just come in: the Dodgers were found to have been negligent on Opening Day 2011 when Bryan Stow was brutally beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The jury awarded $18 million in damages to Stow and his family.

However, the Dodgers will only have to pay a quarter of that $18 million, as they were only found to be 25% of the cause of Stow’s injuries. His attackers, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, were 75% responsible according to the verdict. Obviously Stow is highly unlikely to ever receive a dime from them as both of them are currently serving lengthy prison sentences.

Notably Frank McCourt, then the Dodgers owner, was not found negligent. McCourt’s not being held personally liable is consistent with the mainstream of premises liability and corporate law which, in the normal course, shields the owners of a company from liability even if the company itself is on the hook. Stow himself was not found contributorily negligent, meaning that the jury did not, contrary to the arguments of the Dodgers, believe that he was responsible for bringing on the attack which injured him. The jury likewise rejected Stow’s claim of punitive damages which means that they did not find that the Dodgers’ acted egregiously our outrageously in failing to provide adequate security at Dodger Stadium that day.

Stow’s expert witnesses estimated that he would need some $50 million in lifetime medical care due to the severity of his injuries. Now he stands to receive, at most, $4.5 million.

Or: between one and two percent of the Dodgers’ annual payroll.

  1. davidpom50 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    I get the corporate shielding laws in place, but, damn, I really wish McCourt would’ve been on the hook for something – maybe as part of a separate agreement when the team was sold, indemnifying the Dodgers from the lawsuit or something like that.

    • clydeserra - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      yeah, america would be a lot better if we could fine people we find distasteful.

      • davidpom50 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        The Dodgers were found liable for failing to provide proper security. McCourt is the one who fired his head of security without replacing the position and dramatically slashed the security budget. I wish he was on the hook for the money because he’s the ones who made the decisions that led to the team being on the hook for the money.

      • clydeserra - Jul 9, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        Sounds like the dodgers fired the security.

        I get that you hate McCort, but you can’t make someone pay money because you think he is an ass.

      • Glenn - Jul 9, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        A person is protected by being in a corporation even if he or she makes specific decisions or actions; but now corporations are being given rights as if they were individual people. Thank you, Supreme Court. Justice flows in one direction, and it isn’t in the direction of you or me.

      • davidpom50 - Jul 10, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        Clyde… pay attention and I’ll talk slowly.

        FRANK MCCOURT fired the head of security before the beating. He was the Dodgers’ CEO and made the decision personally.

        FRANK MCCOURT then sold the team to Guggenheim Sports Management. As is common in business sales, I wish Guggenheim had included an indemnity from current and future litigation as part of the sale. That means that there would’ve been a contract that says if the Dodgers got sued and lost for things that happened when McCourt was in charge, then McCourt would reimburse them for those costs. Again – very very common when businesses are sold.

        I’m not looking for McCourt to be “fined,” I’m looking for him to be held responsible for his actions. If he still owned the team, then he would be responsible for paying the jury award (through his privately owned corporation, the Los Angeles Dodgers LLC). He sold the team, and because there was apparently no indemnity, he is off the hook. I think that sucks.

      • clydeserra - Jul 10, 2014 at 7:42 PM

        listen closely

        He was,

        he was when he sold the team with that liability.

      • clydeserra - Jul 10, 2014 at 7:43 PM

        call your congress person. change the law.

    • lanflfan - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      I completely agree. Notice the NBA learned from this, and had Mrs. Sterling sign an indemnity agreement along with the sale of the Clippers transferring all their legal costs that will surely come to her for Dementia Donald’s legal blunders.

      McAsshat intentionally reduced security to save money, and this was the result. The number and type of security was drastically lower on the day Mr. Stow was beaten. How the jury failed to figure that out is beyond me, but the only requirement to be a juror is to have a pulse.

      It is insulting that Mr. Stow will receive only $4.5 million, with Frank McAsshat walking away utterly free. And though I doubt they have any standing to do so I wish the family would sue McAsshat personally. I am 100% a Dodger fan, but when people with different team allegiance can’t safely sit and watch a baseball game we have a major problem.

      • thisdamnbox - Jul 10, 2014 at 7:31 AM

        Well, now that corporations are people the corporate veil has apparently lifted. It should be open season on owners and CEOs in instaces where a large corporation is found even partially culpable…Just another unintended consequence of our male-majority SCOTUS’ recent ruling…

    • ezthinking - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      FYI – Agreements to indemnify a purchasing party for pending lawsuits are quite common.

      • davidpom50 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        I know, I’m saying I’m surprised there wasn’t one in this case.

      • jrbdmb - Jul 10, 2014 at 12:15 AM

        I would guess that Mc was reluctant to include the clause, and Magic / Guggenheim figured the $20 billion TWC was going to give them would more than make up for any potential lawsuit verdict.

        In the end it’s really the fans that will pay for this.

    • eas21 - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      i agree. the new ownership wasnt even in place when this happened, but yet it appears they have have to foot the bill. and i believe, if i remember correctly, that the current group has already done more to help the stow family than the mccourt ownership ever did. kind of like the previous owner of a car getting charged for the next owner’s dui. doesnt make sense to me.

  2. redpiratecaptain - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Scumbag criminals should have been given longer sentences.

    • American of African Descent - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      Scumbag criminals should have the ever living snot beaten out of them, in the same manner they beat Stow.

      Fixed that for you.

      • Glenn - Jul 9, 2014 at 11:27 PM

        Sharia Law? Doesn’t sound too American.

      • American of African Descent - Jul 10, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        What makes you think that this is Sharia Law? Check your privilege, and then read Exodus 21:24. Read also the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution: to be Constitutionally infirm, the punishment needs to be “cruel and unusual.” And there is nothing cruel about taking a pair of people who mercilessly beat on another, and subjecting them to the same treatment they inflicted. (And if I’m being honest with you, I’d vote for putting these guys down just like you’d put down a rabid dog.)

    • davidpom50 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      Agreed. One got 8 years, the other 4. In California, they’ll serve about half of that.

  3. schlom - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    I think you mean that he’ll get the portion of the $4.5m that his lawyers don’t get.

    • ezthinking - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:28 PM

      I think you mean he’ll get more than the $0 that he would have got trying to work himself through to a recovery.

  4. blabidibla - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Not near enough.

    • largebill - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      “Not near enough,” really? Did the Dodgers owners beat Stow? No, they didn’t. It is a shame he was attacked and grievously injured. But it is disgusting that the answer to the situation becomes sue nearest person or entity with deep pockets. I won’t blame Stow, but his attorney and the jury disgust me.

      • mikeevergreen - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:16 PM

        Try again. This occurred after McCourt slashed stadium security budget to the bone. Proper security would have gotten to the site quickly enough and stopped the beating. McCourt should be on the hook for every last nickel.

      • largebill - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        In a parking lot? It is ridiculous to think a team should have security in a parking lot just in case people decide to start beating someone up. It is far beyond ridiculous to assign blame and responsibility for injuries incurred to anyone but those responsible for the injuries.

        McCourt might be the worst person ever, but even if he were that does not make him (or the Dodgers) liable for two other people being pieces of crap and attacking some guy.

      • davidpom50 - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        Yes, in a parking lot. It’s still Dodger Stadium property, there are 50K people exiting at the same time, many of whom have been drinking. The Dodgers are responsible for security there. Even something as simple as better lighting might have prevented the extent of Mr. Stow’s injuries – something the recently-fired head of security had recommended strenuously.

      • blabidibla - Jul 10, 2014 at 12:11 AM

        Are you serious? Have you ever been to a Dodger/Giants game?

        When you fan the flames of rivalry (something both teams are guilty of) and feed the people beer, yes you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of your patrons at least until they leave your facility.

        Please don’t act like someone was getting greedy. Stow will be in a freaking wheelchair the rest of his God damn life, with some huge bills to pay that far exceed this decision.

  5. hojo20 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    He should sign up for Obamacare. That will cover most of his 50m in medical costs the lawyer quoted.

    • ezthinking - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:34 PM

      Since he is disabled he is likely on Medicare which makes him ineligible for Obamacare.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        And taxpayers will be helping to provide him medical care then instead of the responsible parties.

    • Glenn - Jul 9, 2014 at 11:34 PM

      By Obamacare, do you mean fair and competitively priced private insurance? Otherwise, he qualifies for Medicare, which has been in place long before Obama.

  6. psly2124 - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    The jury should have just given home the sum of the national debt. That will be paid off before those two scumbags pay anything.

  7. drewsylvania - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    I hate that the Dodgers have to fork over for the actions of two pukes, but I’m glad that Stow won’t have to worry about his bills and to a large extent his quality of life going forward.

    • ezthinking - Jul 9, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      Not to familiar with the cost of living as a disabled person are you?

      • largebill - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        What does knowledge or lack thereof of costs of living as a disabled person have to do with his comment?

      • jm91rs - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        Keep in mind that most people that get jumped and permenantly disabled by thugs don’t get a dime, so in this case I’m thankful that someone with money was also partially responsible.

  8. largebill - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    Is it even newsworthy that idiots on juries tend to be very generous with other people’s money to sympathetic victims?

    • mikeevergreen - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      They weren’t on this one.

  9. jm91rs - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Anyone else appalled at the estimated cost for his care? Somewhere down the line someone is making an absolute ton of money off of sick people. (Says the guy that’s probably going to get sick when the bills come in for our expecting child).

    • davidpom50 - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      The dude needs around-the-clock care for the rest of his life. That’s 162 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. On top of that, extremely complex medical equipment, regular doctor visits, most likely regular periods of hospitalization, for 30 years (the length of time was an important part of the trial, with Stow’s lawyers arguing the value should be based on a typical lifespan, while the Dodgers’ lawyers were left with the unenviable position of arguing he should get less money because he likely will not live a full lifespan). All those people working for Mr. Stow – the home caregivers, the medical device engineers, the doctors – deserve to be well compensated.

      • mybrunoblog - Jul 9, 2014 at 8:02 PM

        Sad and unfortunate but if his condition is that grave I doubt he”ll live to 76 or 80 or whatever normal life expectancy is.

  10. wogggs - Jul 9, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    The Dodgers have to pay 100% of the economic damages (past and future wage loss and medicals) and only 25% of non-economic damages. This mean they are on the hook for about $12 million, pending appeals and other post-trial remedies. I know this because I am a tort defense lawyer in CA.

    • billybawl - Jul 9, 2014 at 7:17 PM

      Is it joint and several liability among the defendants?

      • wogggs - Jul 9, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        Yes, as to economic damages. Several only as to non-economic damages, so the Dodgers only have to pay 25% of those.

    • brianjoates - Jul 9, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Dodgers are still a business. One would hope a check would be cut right then and there,but they will try and pay as little as possible.

  11. erarey64 - Jul 9, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Dodgers and MLB need to step up and give this man lifetime medical coverage much like a player would have if paralyzed while playing baseball.

  12. jrod2go - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:46 AM

    I can’t believe the lawyers for the Dodgers tried using the “Stow was drunk” argument…not only because it’s stupid but that too could be argued as Dodger negligence in court.

  13. sasquash20 - Jul 10, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    The owner of the parking lot should be held accountable. You pay to park in the lot, so the lot owners should have security. I wish they gave him the 50 million plus he wanted. That way maybe teams start upping security in ever lot in the country. Im sick of paying good money and then havi.g to deal with drunken morons starting crap. If the owners actually feared losing real money we would all be safer and better off.

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