Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Is battered Giants fan's lawsuit against Dodgers a winner?

Adding to its list of woes on and off the field, the Los Angeles Dodgers apparently now must defend against a lawsuit brought by severely injured Bryan Stow, alleging negligence (and related claims)partially contributing to the notorious assault and battery he suffered at the hands of some Dodgers (?) fans in March.  Does the lawsuit "have legs" (borrowing a phrase many personal injury lawyers use)?  (For the story see

If you visit a house, bar, movie theater, store or any other private property, the owner and anyone else in control has a legal duty to prevent reasonably foreseeable injury.  This duty is heightened if you are more than just dropping by, say if you were invited there or bought a ticket to be there.  A classic example taught in many law schools is the person visiting an apartment complex who is attacked in an unlit stairwell.  Is it really so farfetched to foresee such an attack, or someone slipping and falling at an icy gas station, or a fan being assaulted at a stadium lacking proper security, especially if there is a history?

To be sure, there are all kinds of legal theories possibly limiting the claim or recoverable amounts, but attending a baseball game is not so inherently dangerous an activity as to prevent a negligence-based claim in an situation like Mr. Stow's (for example, certain activities are considered so dangerous that some states have expressly limited the right to bring a lawsuit, i.e. skiing, horse-back riding, rafting, sky diving etc.).

Whether Mr. Stow succeeds will of course depend on the particular circumstances and evidence of the attack and injuries, including whether it was reasonable to expect the Dodgers to have done more towards prevention.

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