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Dodgers' attorney says Stow may be partly to blame for beating

Lawyer notes the victim's blood-alcohol level and says the suit by his family wrongly charges the team for being 100% responsible for attack.

October 29, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • Bryan Stow was admitted with 0.176% blood-alcohol level and that is something that will be considered at trial, Dodgers attorney Jerome Jackson said.
Bryan Stow was admitted with 0.176% blood-alcohol level and that is something… (Beck Diefenbach, Reuters…)

An attorney representing the Los Angeles Dodgers said Bryan Stow might be held partially to blame for the beating that left him in a coma, saying that the San Francisco Giants fan was intoxicated at the time.

Attorney Jerome Jackson's comments come as the team is mounting a defense against a civil lawsuit that Stow's family has filed against the Dodgers.

Jackson said that if the lawsuit goes to trial, a jury may lay some of the responsibility on Stow. He cited a Sports Illustrated story that reported Stow's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit in California for driving when he was admitted to the hospital.

"Bryan Stow was admitted with 0.176% blood-alcohol level and that is something that will be considered at trial," Jackson said.

Lawyers for Stow's family expressed outrage over Jackson's comments, saying that Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt is trying to shift focus away from what they consider poor security at the stadium.

"How you are judged in life is how you react after mistakes," said attorney Thomas Girardi. "Oh so here it is: let's blame the innocent guy for the lack of security at Dodger Stadium."

Stow, a Northern California paramedic and father of two, was walking through Dodger Stadium's Parking Lot 2 with two friends after the opening-day victory over the Giants in March when he was allegedly punched, kicked and slammed to the ground by Marvin Norwood, 30, and Louie Sanchez, 29.

Both have pleaded not guilty to assault and mayhem charges.

Stow suffered brain damage in the attack and only this month was able to leave a hospital for a long-term rehab center.

Girardi said Stow has already incurred more than $3 million in medical costs, and that exceeds the Dodgers' insurance coverage. He estimated that Stow's total costs could exceed $50 million.

The Stow family's lawsuit accuses the Dodgers of failing to take adequate measures to prevent violence. The suit cites insufficient lighting, weak security and a lack of promotion of responsible alcohol consumption. Girardi said stadium security ignored the two assailants' unruly behavior in the stands in the hours before Stow was beaten.

Jackson, however, said the Stow family attorneys wrongly assert that the Dodgers are 100% responsible for the incident. The Dodgers are pursuing legal action against Norwood and Sanchez, arguing that they also are responsible.

In another case, he said, a jury found an assailant 85% responsible for a 2005 fight with a woman in the Dodgers' parking lot and the remaining 15% fault was hers, not the Dodgers. "I have never seen one yet which it didn't take at least two people to tango," Jackson told ESPN in an interview Thursday.

Civil attorney Glen Jonas, a veteran of such lawsuits, said the Dodgers will probably be stuck with much of Stow's bills because it has the deep pockets.

"For economic damages, such as lost income or medical expenses, the defendants are jointly liable," he said. That means if the jury finds the Dodgers liable, Stow's lawyers could collect all the economic damages from the team if the others don't pay up.

"For non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, the defendants are only liable for their percentage of fault," he said

"If the plaintiff were at fault, the damages would be reduced by that portion of fault found by the jury," he added. "No reasonable jury will find Mr. Stow at fault for falling victim to that vicious and cowardly assault."

richard.winton@latimes.com.

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