A jury found the Los Angeles Dodgers partially responsible for a Giants fan’s savage beating in a stadium parking lot in 2011 and that partial liability will cost the team must nearly $14 million. The team was found 25 percent responsible for the extensive injuries to Bryan Stow, 45, which comes to precisely $13.9 million for their share when all of Stow’s medical bills and lost earnings are factored in.
Stow, a 45-year-old paramedic who went to the 2011 opening day game in Los Angeles, was beaten nearly to death in a parking lot after the game. He now requires 24-hour care from his family.
The case is a cautionary tale for all professional teams. We have discussed (and heralded) the actions of a few stadiums to crackdown on thugs and drunks but such actions still remain the exception to the rule. As many of us have lamented over the years, I rarely take my kids to stadiums, particularly football stadiums, because of all of the swearing and drunks in the stands. You have to sit there as people scream profanities and act like thugs in front of children. It is simply no fun for families. Even without kids, I find it hard to watch a game with people acting out adolescent, beer-soaked impulses. However, even with the loss of families, few stadiums do anything about it and are finding new ways to get more alcohol in the hands of fans.
In this case, the jury found that the team was partially responsible for the attack when it failed to eject the two attackers earlier from the game for bad behavior and then failed to properly monitor the parking area which had little security and little light. We previously discussed the cases of Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood — two prototypical sports thugs. Both Dodgers fans pleaded guilty to the attack and received eight and four years respectively for their crimes.
Normally, criminal or violent acts cut off proximate causation in tort cases as superseding intervening acts. However, there are exceptions when such violence is clearly foreseeable. Thus, in the case of Kline v. 1500 Massachusetts Avenue. In Kline a landlord was found liable for not taking precautions to protect tenants from crime in an apartment building in Washington. That case involved a tenant who remained on the property during years of decline of the neighborhood in Washington, D.C., but continued as an at-will tenant. She was aware of the crime in the area and the building. However, the court still held that the landlord was liable even though he met housing regulations. He still violated the implied warranty of habitability.
Perhaps with this judgment, team owners will begin to spend more on security and more actively expel unruly fans. It is not only the reasonable and decent thing to do but they just may find that more families (and fans of other teams) are willing to come to their stadiums. I recall that when my sister-in-law and one of her nieces went to the White Sox stadium to watch the game with the Cubs (the “subway series”) last year, fans proceeded to throw beer on them and scream profanities — simply because a woman and little girl were wearing Cubs hats. They were then ridiculed by other White Sox fans as they walked to their car. Such experiences guarantee that they will not return to the stadium but owners continue to leave fans at the mercy of such thugs. This ruling may add a financial reason to act where simple decency failed to motivate owners and teams.
Source: LA Times