You may remember when former major league infielder Jose Offerman attacked two players with a bat while he was a member of the independent Long Island Ducks back in 2007. One of the victims was catcher Johnathan Nathans of the Bridgeport Bluefish, who was hit on the side of his head by Offerman. Nathans sued and the result is in today:
The jury in the two-week-long bat-attack trial of Jose Offerman awarded the victim, former Bluefish catcher Johnathan Nathans $940,000 in damages.
The verdict in the federal case was returned at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday; the seven-member jury deliberated for about 5 hours.
Nathans, whose career was ended by his injuries, had sought nearly $5 million in damages. He claims the attack has left him permanently disabled with vertigo, splitting headaches, nausea and other problems. The jury agreed that Offerman was culpable, but obviously did not see eye-to-eye with Nathans on damages.
It’s rare to see any on-the-field violence actually punished via the legal system. But of course, extreme cases call for extreme consequences. But not extreme criminal consequences: Offerman was charged with felony assault after the attack, but the charges were dismissed after he took anger management classes. Anger management classes which didn’t take, apparently.
The Long Island Ducks, Offerman’s employer at the time, were found not to be liable. Which makes sense. I mean, it’s not like their management was on record saying that they wanted players to act violently on the field or something. Such a scenario would likely change the calculus, but that would be totally crazy.
(thanks to Ben Butler for the heads up)
UPDATE: Apparently the allocation of damages is much more complicated than I first assumed. Specifics of California tort law and the old bankruptcy order governing the Dodgers’ liabilities at the time change the calculus here. So, while the $18 million verdict still represents the top that Stow can recover, the Dodgers may be on the hook for as much as $14 million of the jury award.
Wednesday, 5:03 PM: The jury verdict in the Bryan Stow civil case has just come in: the Dodgers were found to have been negligent on Opening Day 2011 when Bryan Stow was brutally beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The jury awarded $18 million in damages to Stow and his family.
However, the Dodgers will only have to pay a quarter of that $18 million, as they were only found to be 25% of the cause of Stow’s injuries. His attackers, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, were 75% responsible according to the verdict. Obviously Stow is highly unlikely to ever receive a dime from them as both of them are currently serving lengthy prison sentences.
Notably Frank McCourt, then the Dodgers owner, was not found negligent. McCourt’s not being held personally liable is consistent with the mainstream of premises liability and corporate law which, in the normal course, shields the owners of a company from liability even if the company itself is on the hook. Stow himself was not found contributorily negligent, meaning that the jury did not, contrary to the arguments of the Dodgers, believe that he was responsible for bringing on the attack which injured him. The jury likewise rejected Stow’s claim of punitive damages which means that they did not find that the Dodgers’ acted egregiously our outrageously in failing to provide adequate security at Dodger Stadium that day.
Stow’s expert witnesses estimated that he would need some $50 million in lifetime medical care due to the severity of his injuries. Now he stands to receive, at most, $4.5 million.
Or: between one and two percent of the Dodgers’ annual payroll.
The report from this morning is now official: the MLB awards going to relievers will be named after Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. And, as I suspected, setup men need not apply. Get the voting committee for the award:
Most of us agree RBI is a flawed stat and thus basing awards on RBI totals is dumb. Well, save totals is a pretty flawed stat too, but I imagine it will be everything when it comes to this award. Closers have a different mentality, you see. Or so we’re told. And so those who save games tend to believe and pride themselves upon.