Dodgers judge won't delay hearing on Stow's claims

A bankruptcy judge in Delaware on Friday refused to postpone a hearing on a request by the Los Angeles Dodgers to disallow a claim filed on behalf of a San Francisco Giants fan who was nearly beaten to death outside Dodger Stadium on opening day last year.

Following a telephonic hearing with attorneys, Judge Kevin Gross said he would proceed with a March 21 hearing on the Dodgers' request to disallow the claim filed on behalf of Bryan Stow and his two children.

Stow's attorneys argued that they needed more time to prepare their opposition to the Dodgers motion to disallow his claim.

"This is everything to Mr. Stow," said attorney William Baldiga. "... We have to make it the most compelling argument because we can't afford to lose."

Gross said he was sensitive to the fact that Stow suffered horrible injuries, but that he believes there's sufficient time for Stow's attorneys to identify and obtain a narrow range of documents and depositions they need to oppose the Dodgers' motion.

The judge also said he expects the Dodgers to cooperate in providing information sought by Stow's attorneys.

"If the cooperation has not been forthcoming by the debtors, I will certainly take up your stay request yet again," Gross told Stow attorney Thomas Girardi.

Gross will hold a hearing March 7 on a separate request by Stow's attorneys that he abstain from ruling on the Dodgers' motion to disallow Stow's claims.

The Dodgers argue that Gross should disallow Stow's claims because he cannot prove that failures by the club were the cause of his injuries.

But Gross said the Dodgers will have a considerable task in convincing him "that there are absolutely, positively no facts that could result in liability under California law."

In advance of an April 13 hearing to determine whether Gross will approve their reorganization plan, the Dodgers have objected to several claims filed by creditors. The team said it is trying to eliminate or reduce the amount of any reserves that must be set aside for disputed claims and ensure that holders of allowed claims are paid in full.

"I think the debtors have a reasonable right to address your claim before the confirmation hearing," Gross told Stow's attorneys.

Under a settlement reached with Major League Baseball, the Dodgers' reorganization plan centers on a sale of the team by April 30, which coincides with the deadline for current owner Frank McCourt to pay $131 million to his ex-wife, Jamie, as part of their divorce settlement.

Stow's attorneys told Gross on Friday that they are not trying to hold up the sale and that they are looking only to the Dodgers' insurance policies to compensate Stow for his injuries.

"This isn't something that stops the sale or anything else with respect to the Dodgers," Girardi said. "... We got the policies last Friday. That changed our position."

According to a court filing by Stow's attorneys, the available insurance coverage exceeds $300 million.