Dodgers challenged in court over role in beating

The hits keep coming for Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and they aren't the kind that would help the organization.

The latest off-the-field distraction came when the family of a San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day sued the team and McCourt on Tuesday, claiming security cutbacks were partially to blame for the attack.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Bryan Stow contends the Dodgers were negligent by not providing more security and not having adequate lighting in the parking lot where the incident occurred.

Combined, both elements "provided a perfect opportunity to commit a variety of crimes," the lawsuits states. "Unfortunately, for Bryan Stow, this is exactly what happened."

Stow, 42, remains in critical but stable condition under heavy sedation to prevent seizures caused by the traumatic brain injury he suffered in the March 31 attack.

Police arrested Giovanni Ramirez, 31, over the weekend but charges have not yet been filed against him. They have not identified a second attacker and a woman suspected of driving the pair from the scene.

Ramirez was being detained on a parole hold, and detectives still had not presented their case to the district attorney's office. Detective Pjai Morris said additional investigative work was being carried out, but he was confident the case would go forward.

Authorities on Wednesday were holding a lineup to find out whether witnesses to the attack could identify Ramirez. A parole photograph obtained by The Associated Press bears some similarity to a composite sketch released by police. In the photo, a shaven-headed Ramirez is shown with tattoos on his neck and a small marking under his left eye.

Chip Matthews, who is representing members of Ramirez's family, said Ramirez never went to the game that day.

Matthews told the AP that Ramirez is willing to take a polygraph test to show he was not at the stadium and had spent the day at his aunt's house with several family members.

In recent weeks, McCourt has seen Major League Baseball appoint a monitor to oversee the Dodgers and his ex-wife ask a judge presiding over their divorce trial to order the sale of the team. Baseball officials also have said they don't believe McCourt has enough money to make payroll at the end of this month.

Attorneys for Stow believe McCourt has mismanaged one of baseball's most storied franchises by spending lavishly since buying the team in 2004 and reducing security during games. Court documents filed in the divorce trial indicate the McCourts took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodger-related entities.

Jerome M. Jackson, an attorney for the Dodgers, said in a statement that the organization had been unwavering in its support for the Stow family and for police investigators.

"But, to be clear, Mr. McCourt and the Dodgers will defend themselves against the allegations," the statement said.

The lawsuit also noted that Dodgers staff was slow to respond to Stow, taking between 10 and 15 minutes before they arrived to the scene. His attorneys also claim Dodger Stadium has more crime than any other MLB venue and the defendants knew the area was unsafe and a haven for known gang members to "meet, plan and carry out criminal activity."

The Dodgers "knew that the decrease in security forces at Dodger Stadium, coupled with the decrease of uniformed officers patrolling the stadium, would lead to increased attacks and criminal activity on their property," the lawsuit said.

Stow, who wore Giants gear to the game, was taunted repeatedly and some Dodger fans threw peanuts, hot dogs and wrappers at him and his friends, according to the lawsuit.

Stow also sent a text message to a family member during the game about the intimidating scene.

Besides beefing up security and improving the parking lot lights, Stow's attorneys said several other measures could have been taken to prevent the attack, including ejection of disorderly fans, refusal to have known criminals or gang members attend games and the promotion of responsible consumption of alcohol.

Attorney Thomas Girardi, who represents the Stow family in the lawsuit, told KNTV that Barry Bonds had donated money for a college fund for Stow's two young children.


Associated Press writer Thomas Watkins contributed to this report.