Opening statements began Thursday in a civil lawsuit brought against the Los Angeles Dodgers and former owner Frank McCourt by a San Francisco Giants fan who was attacked in a stadium parking lot after an opening day game.
During opening statements, a lawyer for the Dodgers and McCourt aggressively argued that it was intoxication and flared tempers that caused the fight, and that the team provided adequate security at the stadium.
The attorney also said Stow also inflamed the situation with comments and gestures toward the two men who later pleaded guilty to beating him.
A jury was chosen Wednesday to hear the civil negligence case brought by Bryan Stow, of San Jose, after lawyers spent all day questioning prospects after reading through their answers to a six-page written questionnaire. A total of 16 jurors were selected, eight men and eight women. Four of them will become alternates but the panelists will not know until the trial's end which 12 will actually deliberate and make the decision.
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Stow, 45, the San Francisco Giants fan whose beating at Dodger Stadium became a symbol of violence associated with sports events, sat in court in a specially equipped wheelchair Wednesday as prospective jurors were questioned.
"This wasn't a big sympathy play or anything like that," said attorney Tom Girardi. "The jury has to understand what this whole case is all about."
The Bay Area paramedic and father of two was not in court Thursday and will not testify.
Ann Stow, Bryan Stow's mother, was the first to take the stand.
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The civil case follows a criminal trial in which two men pleaded guilty to assault charges. The civil jury will focus on whether the Dodgers and McCourt provided sufficient security in April 2011 for the opening game with Los Angeles' fierce rival, the San Francisco Giants.
Witnesses at a preliminary hearing in criminal court testified that security guards were not present in the parking lot where Stow was beaten and kicked by Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood. Stow's lawyer said the pair who wore Dodgers gear attacked Stow for wearing a Giants shirt.
Stow suffered brain damage and is permanently disabled. His lawyers say his lifetime care could cost $50 million.
A lawyer representing the team and McCourt said the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Police Department provided the single largest security force for a Dodgers game in history. Attorney Dana Fox called the level of security on opening day unprecedented and contended responsibility rested with the defendants and Stow.
In another development, lawyers agreed to halve the number of defendants, leaving the former Dodgers owner and one entity, Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, remaining as defendants. The agreement means two other team companies, Blue Landco LLC and L.A.Real Estate LLC, are no longer part of the case.
Sanchez, 31, pleaded guilty to a felony count of mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison for the attack. Norwood, 32, pleaded guilty to assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to four years behind bars.
As part of the plea agreement, all other charges against the men were dropped. Both men had originally been charged with mayhem, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury.