VERO BEACH, Fla. — Dodger owner Peter O'Malley flew to San Francisco Tuesday to testify in a $5-million civil suit brought against the Dodgers and two former players, Reggie Smith and Davey Lopes, stemming from an altercation involving a fan who threw a plastic batting helmet at Smith in Candlestick Park five years ago.
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda also left here Tuesday and got as far as Atlanta before team attorneys informed him that he would not be needed until later in the trial. Lasorda returned here Tuesday night after missing the Dodgers' 12-9 loss to the Texas Rangers in Pompano Beach Tuesday afternoon.
The suit is being brought by Michael B. Dooley of Redwood City, who is seeking damages for alleged assault and battery during an incident that occurred during a Giants-Dodgers game on Sept. 24, 1981, in which Smith and Lopes entered the stands from the playing field.
Dooley, who threw a plastic batting helmet purchased from a concessionaire at Smith, was arrested at the time on several charges, including battery, but all charges later were dismissed.
Dooley suffered a sprained wrist, three broken ribs and and a couple of broken knuckles when police broke up the altercation, according to his attorney, Joseph W. Carcione. Medical costs totalled less than $1,000, the attorney added.
"The probable cause (of the injuries) was the police baton going into my client's stomach," Carcione said.
The police were not named in the action, Carcione said, because "the police would not have gone near my client if Mr. Smith had not gone into the stands, with Mr. Lopes following."
Smith, at the time an outfielder with the Dodgers, was fined $5,000 and suspended for five days by the National League. No punitive action was taken by the league against Lopes.
Another former Dodger player, Jay Johnstone, also was named as a defendant in the suit, which was filed in March, 1982, but Johnstone's name later was dropped.
"We did not find that Mr. Johnstone was culpable . . . he went in (to the stands) to break it up," Carcione said.
Carcione does not dispute that Dooley--who listed his age as 38 at the time he filed the suit--threw the batting helmet. "That the helmet was thrown is not in question," Carcione said. "The provocation is certainly in question."
The defendants named in the suit are Smith, Lopes, O'Malley, Lasorda and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Inc. O'Malley, who was not present in Candlestick Park when the incident occurred, was called to testify at Carcione's request.
"I believe he'll help my case--not intentionally," said Carcione, who also asked that Lasorda be called to testify.
Santiago Fernandez, the Dodgers' assistant secretary and general counsel, said he could not recall O'Malley being called to participate in a similar case.
The trial is currently in jury selection, said Fernandez, who estimates that it will be eight to 10 days before the trial is completed. Carcione said he expects O'Malley to testify on Thursday. Lasorda, Fernandez said, probably will not testify before Monday.
Smith, Fernandez said, is out of baseball after playing in Japan. He currently is involved in two businesses, one computer-related, the other involving hair products.
Lopes is a member of the Chicago Cubs.
William C. Bottger, an attorney for Latham and Watkins, is representing the Dodgers in the trial. Richard T. Bowles, an attorney from Walnut Creek, Calif., is representing Smith and Lopes. The case is being heard in San Francisco Superior Court.
Attorneys for both sides said the judge hearing the case has issued a gag order, which prevented them from providing further details.
In Manager Tom Lasorda's absence, the Dodgers were managed by coaches Joe Amalfitano and Monty Basgall. . . .Orel Hershiser was rocked for eight runs and seven hits in 4 innings. Jerry Reuss fared no better, giving up six hits and four runs, including a grand slam home run by Oddibe McDowell. . . . Center fielder Reggie Williams went 4 for 4, including a home run, one of four hit by the Dodgers Tuesday. The others were by Ken LanDreaux, Bill Madlock and Greg Brock. . . . Pedro Guerrero and Steve Sax did not make the trip.