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Friday, July 11, 2014

My breakdown of the verdict in the beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow outside Dodgers Stadium, and what's next.

An interesting precedent from 1985, also involving drunken fans fighting in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot, in which a jury verdict for the plaintiffs was overturned on appeal. In that case, the Court of Appeals of California ruled that the lack of security itself wasn't enough to prove negligence by the team; the plaintiffs had to show that the extra police would have prevented the fight.

As the court wrote in Noble v. Los Angeles Dodgers:

 "It would be intolerable and grossly unfair to permit a lay jury, after the fact, to determine in any case that security measures were 'inadequate,' especially in light of the fact that the decision would always be rendered in a case where the security had in fact proved to be inadequate."

(h/t to Widener Law professor Christopher Robinette at TortsProf Blog for pointing me in the right direction.)

The Stow jury also rejected claims that he was responsible for his own beating because he was drunk.  (His blood-alcohol content was .18 percent). As the court wrote in Robinson v. Pioche -- way back in the Gold Rush era -- when a drunk man fell in a hole in the sidewalk: "A drunken man is as much entitled to a safe street as a sober one, and much more in need of it."


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