Jury awards L.A. man severely beaten by security guard $58 million

Antonio Lopez Chaj, left, with his brother, Pedro Chang, appears at a news conference on Monday after a jury awarded him $58 million for medical and economic losses. Doctors had to remove a portion of Chaj's skull and brain after he was severely beaten in 2010; he is unable to speak or care for himself.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Antonio Lopez Chaj’s skull looks a pie chart with a quarter missing. He cannot speak, needs help to walk and needs 24-hour care after being severely beaten by a security guard in a Los Angeles bar three years ago, his attorneys say.

After hearing evidence about the horrific April 2010 attack, a Torrance jury awarded the 43-year-old immigrant painter nearly $58 million in economic and medical losses. The Los Angeles resident’s injuries were so severe that doctors had to remove a portion of his brain and skull.

“It took the jury about two and a half hours to reach a verdict,” attorney Federico Sayre said. “We were all very nervous when they came back so quickly but they were unanimous on everything. It is a victory for justice.”


Sayre said Chaj’s injuries are so devastating that although he recognizes his loved ones and his attorneys, he may not understand the decision.

“I have explained to him that he now is going to be taken care of the rest of his long life,” Sayre said of the multimillion-dollar verdict against the security company, DGSP Security & Patrol Services. “As you can see, 25% of his skull is missing.”

Chaj, his brother and two nephews were involved in a fight April 19, 2010, at La Barra Latina 2 near Catalina and 8th streets in the Pico Union area. According to court filings, the fight began after a bartender refused to serve one of his nephews, who then called the bartender a name. The bartender then allegedly attacked the nephew.

With minutes, a security guard became involved and began using a baton on Chaj’s relatives. When Chaj tried to intervene, he was attacked by the guard.

“A security guard struck him in the head with a baton several times and pulled him outside the bar,” said Sayre, who along with Fernando Chavez, the son of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, represented the painter. “He repeatedly hit him in the head and slammed his head into the pavement multiple times.”

During the trial, an investigator with the Los Angeles Police Department testified that the security guard denied using a baton, Sayre said. She said she believed the guard struck Chaj repeatedly in the skull with a metal baton.

The guard was never charged in the case because police said they lacked independent witnesses to the assault. The guard disappeared before the civil trial. Sayre said that at trial he presented evidence the guard was unlicensed and had no permit for a baton.