LOS ANGELES (CNS) Jurors in the trial of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow's negligence lawsuit against former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt announced today they are hopelessly deadlocked and have not been able to reach consensus on a single question on the verdict form.
The jury is in its fifth day of deliberations. Stow contends lax security at Dodger Stadium on opening day in 2011 led to a parking lot attack by two Dodger fans that left him confined to a wheelchair and with permanent brain damage.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez asked jurors if there was anything he or the attorneys could do to help break the deadlock, but he was met with silence from the panel. He suggested the possibility of further arguments from the attorneys, but got no response.
The jury said it had not been able to answer the first question on the verdict form, which asks whether McCourt or the Dodgers were negligent. If nine of the 12 jurors answer ``yes,'' the panel then must answer whether that negligence was a major factor in causing Stow's injuries. If the panel answers ``no'' to those questions, the lawsuit is rejected, and there is no need to consider possible damages.
In court today, the jury foreman asked Chavez if the panel can debate the issue of damages prior to answering the question of negligence. Chavez ultimately told the jurors they can discuss whatever they want, but they must answer the verdict form questions in order.
He then sent them back to the jury room to continue deliberations.
The lawsuit against McCourt and the business entity he created -- Los Angeles Dodgers LLC -- stems from a beating that Stow, a Santa Cruz paramedic who was in Giants gear at the time, suffered at the hands of Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, both of Rialto, in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on March 31, 2011.
The current owners of the Dodgers are not involved in the lawsuit and not facing any liability.
Stow was punched from behind by Sanchez after the 2011 home opener between the Dodgers and their longtime rivals. Sanchez and his friend, Norwood, then kicked the Northern California father of two after he fell to the ground.
Stow's attorneys maintain security was insufficient inside and outside the stadium and that no officers or guards were present in lot 2 when Stow was attacked. They also say Sanchez and Norwood should have been ejected from Dodger Stadium hours earlier for unruly behavior and that more uniformed security within the stadium could have deterred their misconduct.
But McCourt's attorneys say the team spent more money on security on opening day security in 2011 than in previous years and that the attack on Stow happened so fast, security personnel would have had to have been right there as it developed in order to prevent it.
Sanchez, 31, and Norwood, 33, pleaded guilty in January to carrying out the attack on Stow and were sentenced to eight- and four-year terms, respectively. They are also both facing a federal weapons charge that could land them in a federal lockup for up to 10 years.
An attorney for Stow said in closing arguments Thursday that Stow deserves $36 million in damages plus punitive damages because McCourt put saving money ahead of fan safety on opening day 2011.
"It's his ball game. He has to keep that property safe,'' said Thomas Girardi.
Girardi said $36 million would cover Stow's out-of-pocket medical and other expenses and help relieve the burden on his family arising from his care. But Stow also is deserving of more money for his pain and suffering, as well as to punish the defendants for failing to protect him, Girardi said.
Attorneys for McCourt counter that Stow's medical costs will be between $6.5 million and $11 million and not more than $30 million, as the plaintiff contends, and that Stow was drunk the night he was beaten, antagonizing the assailants and helping to trigger the incident.
"There were things that Mr. Stow did that put things into action,'' said defense attorney Dana Fox.
He said no damages should be awarded because Stow's attorneys did not prove any liability on the part of McCourt and the team, and he scoffed at Girardi's suggestion that Stow deserved punitive damages, saying there was no evidence the defendants acted with malice.
"There is no evidence the Dodgers intentionally disregarded Mr. Stow,'' Fox said.
Posted by Karla Marquez