California Law Today

Bottom of the Ninth

Tom Girardi woke up at 5:30 a.m. on April 1. As always, he had a lot on his mind. But today, he also had a heavy heart. It was Opening Day of the Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 season, a celebration the former aspiring big league baseball player used to revel in.

That all changed two years ago, when San Francisco medical technician Bryan Stow was mercilessly beaten on Opening Day by two Dodger fans fueled by alcohol and marijuana – and left unchecked by security.

“Opening day really may be one of the best days of the year,” says Girardi. “Back to the baseball field, dreams of a championship once again. I just can’t feel that way anymore about the Dodgers.”

Girardi|Keese has led the litigation against the Dodgers and former owner Frank McCourt through bankruptcy court and now with new owners. However, the Dodgers still have not made an effort to settle the case despite Stow’s enormous medical bills. In addition, earlier this year, he suffered a medical setback that endangered his life when he developed a blood clot in his leg and had to be hospitalized.

“These are not my Dodgers. These are not the Dodgers of Jackie Robinson,” he says. “Those Dodgers would never let this man suffer as Bryan Stow is suffering if they could stand up and do what was right.”

Instead what he and attorney Christopher Aumais are facing are multiple motions to dismiss being prepared by the lawyers working for McCourt. “It’s a bit of a hurdle to hold a premises owner responsible for a beating like this,” says Aumais. He has been conducting discovery into the repeated failures of security at Dodger stadium as well as the other dangers ownership exacerbated to prove this is one case in which an owner should face liability. “We are confident that the facts and evidence in the Stow case are compelling and different enough to prevail over these motions.  We believe the Court will do the right thing so the case can rightfully be decided by a jury.”

“It would be a horrible miscarriage of justice if McCourt’s Dodgers bore no responsibility after they provided inadequate security and sold rivers of beer to raise money,” says Girardi.

In addition, this was far from the first violent incident at Dodger Stadium, which had experienced a stabbing at a Giants game, as well as a fatal shooting in preceding years. “It was well known that they’ve had similar incidents,” says Aumais. “It’s even worse when it’s a rivalry game. And when you throw in that the Giants won the World Series the year before, it was a powder keg just about to go off.”

The firm has gathered evidence that shows the two men charged in the beating, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, were a menace during the game with no intervention from security. Sanchez was reportedly intoxicated and throwing peanuts and verbally harassing others beginning in the second inning. At the end of the game, Sanchez reportedly assaulted a Giants fan, and Norwood pulled him off. They shoved others on the escalator after the game, then lit up marijuana in the parking lot before assaulting Stow.

“They were so brazen,” says Aumais. “They knew that Dodger security posed no threat to them. They thought they could get away with murder. And they almost did.”

Bryan Stow has a trial date of August 27. “We will be ready to go,” says Girardi. “And this time, the Dodgers will be on our field.”

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