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Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Now for a meritorious lawsuit

The Dodgers have been found liable in the beating of a Giants fan Bryan Stow in the parking lot on Opening Day 2011. The jury found the Dodgers 25 % liable and awarded just under $ 18 million. The two men who assaulted Stow were each found 37.5 % liable. The news stories do not say whether the two were parties to the case or whether there is joint-and-several liability allowing Stow to recover the full amount from the Dodgers. Then-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was found not personally liable.

Update: Deadspin is reporting that Stow will recover $ 4.5 million from the Dodgers, which seems to suggest several liability only. A torts professor tells me: 1) California only has several liability for non-economic damages and 2) Some states (not sure about California) only have several liability for intentional torts. In this case, it is not clear from reports how much of the $ 18 million was economic and 2) The Dodgers were found liable for negligence, while the two assailants would have been on the hook for assault/battery. So where does that leave us? Anyone with knowledge of California tort law, please advise.

Further Update: Christopher Robinette  (Widener and the TortsProf Blog) emails this story from CNN, which includes comments from Stow's lawyer about the judgment. Of the $ 18 million, $14 is for economic damages (past and future medical expenses) and $ 4 million is for non-economic damages (pain and suffering); Stow can collect $ 15 million from the Dodgers--all $ 14 million for economic damages and $ 1 million in non-economic, reflecting the Dodgers' 25 % liability.  According to Christopher, this is consistent with common tort rules in many states, under which there is joint-and-several liability for economic damages, but several liability for non-economic damages. The Dodgers can bring contribution actions against the two assailants for their share of the $ 14 million, although that is highly unlikely, since these guys are basically judgment-proof.


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