You’ve probably heard of the tragic case of Bryan Stow, a Giants fan who was severely beaten after a game at Dodgers’ Stadium. But you may not know about a very similar incident that occurred in the 1980s. The Dodgers were able to dodge liability for the beating back then, but it remains to be seen whether differences in the two situations will mean a favorable result for Stow in his current case against the Dodgers.
The facts in Nobel v L.A. Dodgers (1985) 168 C3d 912, 214 CR 396 are eerily similar to those of the Stow beating. In both cases, baseball fans were beaten by third parties in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot following a game.
In Nobel, the court found that the Dodgers organization was not negligent in failing to protect the plaintiffs against physical assault by third parties. Specifically, the court found no evidence that more security guards would have prevented the postgame assault.
Given this precedent, the SF Chronicle reports that
Stow’s lawyers, to get their suit before a jury, must distinguish it from the Nobles’ case by showing that the Dodgers knew more about dangerous conditions in the parking lot than they did in the earlier case, and disregarded those dangers in planning their security.
Stow’s lawyers may be able to do just that. They claim that the Dodgers have actually reduced security personnel in recent years and have stopped hiring uniformed off-duty police officers. This could be due to financial pressures resulting from the infamous divorce of the Dodgers’ owners.
These facts could be enough to get this case to a jury, where the Dodgers are unlikely to look very good.
Have you been following Stow’s case? How do you think it will turn out?
For everything you need to know about premises liability actions, including owners’ liability for the conduct of others, go to CEB’s California Tort Guide.
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