By Dana Feldman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A baseball fan suing the Los Angeles Dodgers and the team's former owner for $35 million could have been spared a brutal beating that left him with brain damage if the team had not skimped on security spending, a lawyer for the fan told jurors on Thursday.
Bryan Stow, who can no longer work as a paramedic after the attack at Dodger Stadium on opening day of the 2011 season, is seeking $35 million in compensation to pay for past and future medical care and the college education of his two children, his lawyer Thomas Girardi said.
Stow's lawsuit accused the Dodgers and former owner Frank McCourt of scrimping on security to support the lavish lifestyle of McCourt and his then-wife, saying Stow was beaten in a poorly lit parking lot area where there was no security guard on duty.
Attorneys for the Dodgers argued that the team provided heavy security at the 2011 opener against the team's long-time rival, the Giants.
Stow, from Santa Cruz, had been attending an opening-day game between the perennial rivals when two men attacked him the parking lot.
The attackers were later convicted of charges stemming from the beating, which left Stow in a medically induced coma for months and prompted calls to address violence tied to sports rivalries.
Stow, 45, did not attend opening arguments on Thursday, but had previously appeared in a wheelchair during jury selection.
Girardi told jurors in opening arguments of the civil trial that McCourt should have known about the possibility for violence and the need for better security at the game.
"You need to take the steps to prevent bad things from happening to people, it takes money to do that," Girardi said, telling jurors the Dodgers had paid to have 120 uniformed police officers at the stadium in 2009, but only 19 in 2011 on the day Stow was beaten.
Attorney Dana Fox, representing McCourt and the Los Angeles Dodgers, told jurors that 437 security people had been working that day including uniformed police officers as well as private guards and other staff.
"The Dodgers had never had a larger security force for an opening day game," Fox said.
A group led by former basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson and investment banking firm Guggenheim Partners bought the Dodgers for $2 billion from McCourt in 2012, nearly a year after the team landed in bankruptcy court.
(Reporting by Dana Feldman in Los Angeles, Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and David Gregorio)