LOS ANGELES – Bryan Stow, the San Francisco Giants fan whose beating at Dodgers Stadium became a symbol of violence associated with sports events, sat in a specially equipped wheelchair as prospective jurors heard lawyers give brief summaries of the civil suit brought for the brain-damaged man.
Stow, a paramedic from Northern California, will never be able to work again, his lawyer said, and it was unclear how much of the statements made on Tuesday were understood by him. His attorney, Tom Girardi, has said that Stow will not be able to testify in the trial. He was accompanied to court by a group of family members.
Stow, 45, returned home last spring after two years in rehabilitation centers and hospitals. Girardi said he requires constant care. He has estimated that Stowe's lifetime care could cost $50 million.
The criminal portion of the case ended earlier this year when two men entered guilty pleas to assault charges. But the civil case will focus on whether the Dodgers and their former owner Frank McCourt provided sufficient security in April 2011 for the opening game with Los Angeles' fierce rival, the San Francisco Giants.
In a brief statement outlining his position, Stow's lawyer said he never touched anyone and was attacked from behind by his assailants because he was wearing a Giants shirt. Girardi said the Dodgers failed to provide adequate security at the stadium.
But 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.
Witnesses at a preliminary hearing in criminal court told of seeing no security guards in the parking lot where Stow was attacked and bystanders called 911 for help.
Defense attorney Dana Fox blamed Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, who pleaded guilty to the attack, for causing Stow's injuries. But he also said evidence would show Stow was drunk, and the fight started over something he said. Blood evidence would show that Stow's blood alcohol level was two times higher than the level for drunken driving, he said.
Stow sat facing prospective jurors as they were instructed to fill out questionnaires.
The paramedic from Santa Cruz suffered disabling brain damage.
The six-page questionnaire asked the prospects if they ever knew anyone diagnosed or treated for a traumatic brain injury, whether they've known anyone who was in a coma or knew anyone who had to care for a disabled person.
They were asked if they or anyone close to them had ever been in a fistfight at a sporting event and how it was handled by security.
"What is your opinion if any of Frank McCourt?" they were asked, referring to the unpopular Dodgers owner who sold the team under duress. They were asked how many times they have been to Dodgers or Giants games and whether they ever had a negative experience at Dodger Stadium.
McCourt and his wife, Jamie, are expected to testify during the trial.
Fox said the evidence would show that the Dodgers "acted reasonably" in preparing for the game between fierce rivals and were not to blame for Stow's injuries.
"The only parties responsible for his terrible injuries," said Fox, "are Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Norwood and tragically Mr. Stow."