The Dodgers face long odds in trying to get Bryan Stow's claim dismissed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Judge Kevin Gross said during a hearing Friday.
"I think the debtors have a very difficult task ahead of them to convince me there are absolutely and positively no facts that would not result in liability under California law," Gross said.
The Dodgers are entitled to make their case, however, Gross said. He set March 7 for a hearing on whether he should yield to the Los Angeles Superior Court and, if necessary, March 21 for a hearing on whether Stow's claim against the Dodgers should be dismissed by the federal Bankruptcy Court.
Stow was beaten and critically injured in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day last season, an attack his attorneys blame in part on security cutbacks under owner Frank McCourt. Stow's attorneys have said their client will need lifelong medical care, have estimated damages at $50 million and have insisted the case be heard by a jury in Los Angeles, rather than a bankruptcy judge in Delaware.
The Dodgers deny liability, claiming security was at record levels that day and they had no way to foresee a random attack. They have said Gross has the authority to hear the matter.
In Friday's hearing, Gross sounded exasperated that the issue could delay the Dodgers' emergence from bankruptcy. Thomas Girardi, an attorney for Stow, said the Dodgers recently acknowledged that they have insurance reserves sufficient to cover Stow's potential claims. As a result, Gross said, the two sides ought to be able to figure out how to satisfy each other's concerns and still maintain the April 30 target date for the team's exit from bankruptcy.
"You can resolve an awful lot by discussions," Gross said.
-- Bill Shaikin