Man wins suit against record label

Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

A jury has ordered Death Row Records to pay $162,000 in damages to a Los Angeles man who had accused label owner Marion "Suge" Knight and his security team of attacking him at a local recording studio.

Dwayne H. Baudy, who had surgery for a ruptured disc after the altercation and now walks with a cane, won the judgment in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The jury did not find Knight personally liable. But in a complex verdict handed down Tuesday, jurors ruled that Knight's company was liable for the actions of security guards who clashed with Baudy, an assistant to a rap producer, on Nov. 6, 2001 at Con Am Studios in Reseda.

The case offered starkly contrasting testimony about how Baudy came to be injured and recalled earlier episodes of violence involving Knight and Death Row. The weeklong civil trial was held in a criminal courtroom in Van Nuys because of security concerns.

Over the past decade, Knight has served several stints in prison on assault-related charges. He was convicted of assault in 1992 and placed on probation. In 1996, Knight was jailed for five years for violating probation after he and his associates, including rap star Tupac Shakur, beat a gang rival in a Las Vegas hotel lobby. Shakur was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting three hours after the hotel fracas.

Last year, authorities again imprisoned Knight for violating his parole after he punched a parking attendant at a Hollywood club. Knight was released several weeks before Baudy's trial began.

Baudy said that on the night of the altercation, he went to the Reseda studio to meet an independent rap producer for whom he worked. Baudy and a friend got into a confrontation with Death Row's security chief, Reginald Wright Jr.

Wright told police that the two men brandished guns when they were barred from entering a restricted area of the studio, which Death Row rented on a regular basis.

Wright, a former Compton police officer, told police that he confiscated the guns, and he handed the weapons over to authorities. Baudy was arrested that night on weapons charges, which were later dropped because of insufficient evidence.

Baudy contended that he and his friend were unarmed and that Wright planted the guns on them. In court this week, Baudy testified that more than a dozen people, including Knight and Wright, attacked him without provocation.

According to his attorney, Joseph E. Porter III, Baudy was pistol-whipped, punched and kicked. A doctor testified that Baudy needed back surgery, and the jury was shown photos of his injuries taken the day after the confrontation.

Knight testified that he was not in the studio at the time -- an assertion backed up by several witnesses, including the producer who met Baudy at the studio. Wright testified that he and other Death Row guards forcibly detained Baudy.

After poring over the conflicting testimony for a day, jurors found that Knight and Wright had not committed battery with intent to harm Baudy. But the jury ruled that Death Row had been negligent in supervising its security staff and ordered the label to pay Baudy $58,301 for medical bills and $104,340 for lost income, pain and suffering.

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