Bryan Stow Civil Trial: Dodgers Found Negligent and Liable; Frank McCourt Cleared

The Dodgers were found partially liable Wednesday in the 2011 brutal beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was awarded nearly $18 million in damages by a jury at the conclusion of a closely watched civil lawsuit.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury found former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt not negligent, while the two men who attacked Stow were found to have most of the responsibility for the harm that came to the former paramedic from Santa Cruz.

stow in wheelchair

Bryan Stow, in a wheelchair, appears outside the Los Angeles Superior Court civil building during the May 2014 proceedings in a civil lawsuit he has filed against the Dodgers. (Credit: KTLA)

Stow was attacked in a Dodger Stadium parking lot following the opening day game against the San Francisco Giants on March 31, 2011.

His lawsuit accused the Dodgers and McCourt of failing to provide proper security and lighting on the night Stow was beaten. It was filed on his behalf by his parents and on behalf of his son and daughter by his ex-wife.

The jury of six men and six women listened to 20 days of testimony during the 4 1/2-week trial, which began on May 27. They visited Dodger Stadium in a secret trip.

Bryan Stow appears outside Los Angeles County Superior Court  on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Bryan Stow appears outside Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

The jury was handed the case on Thursday, June 26. After nine days of deliberation, the verdict was read about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Stow’s mother Ann let out an audible sigh of relief when the verdict and the amount of damages were announced.

“Oh my God, I’m beyond happy,” Ann Stow said later.

Her son had not yet been told of the verdict, she said outside the courthouse.

He might not understand the complicated details of the verdict, Stow’s father David Stow said.

Stow family attorney Tom Girardi talks to media alongside David and Ann Stow after the verdict was delivered on July 9, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

Stow family attorney Tom Girardi talks to media alongside David and Ann Stow after the verdict was delivered on July 9, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

“But Bryan will know he got some help today, and that’s what he was looking for, ” David Stow said.

Jurors were asked a series of eight sequential questions, beginning with whether the Dodgers or McCourt were negligent. If either party was determined negligent, jurors had to determine whether that negligence was a “substantial factor in causing harm” to Stow.

Jurors determined that the acts of Stow’s two attackers were a substantial factor in that harm. The two men were determined to each have 37.5 percent of the responsibility for the harm.

The Dodgers were found to be responsible for 25 percent of the harm.

Stow family attorney Tom Girardi said the family would get $15 million of the nearly $18 million awarded to the plaintiffs.

“This is a nice nest egg for this family that desperately needed it,” Girardi said.

In court last week, jurors told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor E. Chavez they had been unable to reach agreement on any of the eight questions before them. After consulting with attorneys on both sides, Chavez implored the jury to make one last effort to reach a verdict.

“We’re deciding on somebody’s future,” said Alex Valdez, juror #13. “It’s basically in our hands to … make sure they have enough to cover their medical expenses.”

They returned to deliberations that afternoon, July 2.

Outside the courthouse, Dodgers attorney Dana Fox emphasized that the jury had not found the team liable after four days of deliberation.

“They struggled through it, and they struggled for four days,” Fox said. “This was a jury that did what it was asked to do and reached a very considered verdict.”

stow-and-kids

Bryan Stow and his two children seen in a family photo.

Stow was seeking more than $36 million in economic damages for lost earnings and medical expenses, plus an unspecified sum in compensation for pain and suffering.

Attorneys for the Dodgers said the amount sought had been more than $60 million total.

A father of two, Stow was wearing a Giants jersey when he was beaten by Dodgers fans Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez.

norwood sanchez

Marvin Norwood, left, and Louie Sanchez appear in court after submitting their guilty pleas Feb. 20, 2014, in the 2011 beating of Bryan Stow. (Credit: pool)

Stow, who was drunk during the game, suffered brain damage and permanent disability in the attack.

In a wheelchair, Stow appeared at court twice during the trial. His parents were present every day.

Norwood and Sanchez both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to four years, eight months in prison at an emotional February hearing where Stow’s family members tearfully and angrily rebuked them.

mccourt

“Like all Dodger fans, I was appalled at the criminal behavior of Sanchez and Norwood. Make no mistake, they are the parties responsible for this tragic incident,” Frank McCourt said outside Los Angeles Superior Court on June 13, 2014. (Credit: KTLA)

After testifying in the case in June, McCourt had told reporters that Norwood and Sanchez were “the parties responsible” for the harm to Stow, an argument made in court by attorneys for the Dodgers.

Lawyers for the team had also argued that despite cutbacks in security spending, there was an unprecedented level of security for the opening day game between longtime rivals.

“The two officers that were supposed to be in that lot, they just weren’t there,” said Carlos Munoz, juror #2. “And even though there was an action plan by the Los Angeles Police Department, they weren’t there either.”

Juror Alex Valdez felt that Stow was not awarded enough damages.

“One of the expert witnesses started talking about life expectancy,” said Valdez. “I felt something inside of me. I really felt for the family.”

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