Thursday, November 3, 2011
Bryan Stow lawyer approached MLB
By Ramona Shelburne
The attorney representing Bryan Stow's family in its lawsuit against Frank McCourt and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the brutal Opening Day beating at Dodger Stadium, said Thursday that he has approached Major League Baseball about working out a "reasonable settlement" for the case now that McCourt has agreed to sell the team at a bankruptcy auction.
Stow's attorney, Tom Girardi, told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Thursday that if Major League Baseball, or whomever the new Dodgers' owner is, is willing to work out that "reasonable resolution," the Stow family would be willing to do a commercial to help reassure fans that security issues at Dodger Stadium have been addressed.
"It'll still be a lot of money because reasonable for incidents like this is a lot of money," Girardi said. "But we'd work out a reasonable resolution and I think the family would then even cut a commercial for them, saying 'Come back to Dodger Stadium, it's safe, they (the new owners) have cured the problem, they were fair to the family.'"
The Stow family is currently McCourt's largest unsecured creditor. Girardi has previously estimated that damages in the case could be as much as $50 million. That debt would be assumed by whomever buys the team from McCourt in the auction, if it isn't settled in advance.
If it isn't settled, Girardi noted that an escrow account would have to be funded to cover the Dodgers' liability if the case went to a jury trial.
"Anybody who buys the Dodgers picks up the good, the bad, and the ugly," Girardi said. "These are liabilities that anybody buying the team has to assume. When you have a case like Bryan's, it's very important to convert it into a number that you know exactly what it's going to be.
"Whereas maybe a jury will give $10 million, maybe they'll award $200 million. That sort of uncertainty is not good for the family, but it's really not good for somebody buying the Dodgers."
Last week, Jerome Jackson, the attorney representing the Dodgers and McCourt in the matter, told ESPNLosAngeles.com that the two suspects in the case, and Stow himself, should bear the majority of the liability in the case, not the Dodgers.
"One of the things the jury will be asked to do is to determine what percentage of fault various individuals have for this event," Jackson said last week. "You're saying to the jury, 'They (the Stow family) are saying we're 100 percent liable. But does that mean (Marvin) Norwood and (Louis) Sanchez, who beat this guy up, have no liability? And, does it mean Mr. Stow himself has no liability?'"
Jackson compared the Stow case to a suit filed by a woman named Maria Para Helenius, who lost sight in one of her eyes after being involved in a fight in the Dodger Stadium parking lot in 2005. A jury found her assailant, Denise Ordaz, 85 percent liable for the attack, Helenius 15 percent liable and the Dodgers zero percent liable. She was awarded $500,420, according to court documents obtained by ESPNLosAngeles.com, 85 percent of which was to be paid by Ordaz.
Girardi said he hopes MLB or whoever buys the Dodgers takes a different approach.
"As I've said before, people make mistakes," Girardi said. "You're judged by what you do after you make the mistake. I would hope a new owner would come in and say 'Hey. This is terrible. This guy is really hurt. We've got to do the right thing.'"
Stow was in a coma for several months after the attack. He has since been transferred to a rehabilitation facility in northern California. His family reported on its website Thursday that he was recently able to write his first name.
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.