The family of Bryan Stow (the Giants fan who was beaten so severely after a Dodgers game that he remains in critical condition weeks after the attack) has filed a lawsuit against the Dodgers and Frank McCourt (who may or may not own the Dodgers depending on the outcome of a lawsuit with his wife).  The family contends that the Dodgers should have provided more security for the opening game day.

Are Sports Teams Liable For Fan Injuries?

Generally, a freak accident in which one fan hurts another, will not result in a lawsuit against a sports team.  However, when a person can show that there has been repeated violence or actions showing that violence was likely, then the sports team might be held liable since the team should be aware of the issue.  Stow’s family alleges that Dodger fans repeatedly taunted other fans, threw peanuts, hot dogs and wrappers at others.  The attorneys stated that, “the lack of security and inadequate lighting presented a perfect opportunity to commit a variety of crimes, unfortunately, for Bryan Stow, this is exactly what happened.

Are The Dodgers A Unique Case?

While each sports team has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, the allegations made against Frank McCourt are different from what has been seen in the past.  Most sports teams will hire a security consultant to check the security of the building, where security guards are posted and other security issues to protect fans.  However, Bryan Stow’s family has claimed that McCourts “lavish lifestyle” created a “disturbing reduction in security staff.”  While a serious accusation, it is difficult to prove that the Dodgers knowingly provided poor security.  One way to prove that someone knew that their security was not appropriate is by examining what they did in the wake of the crime.  In the Dodgers case, they installed temporary lights in the parking lot after the attack.  Perhaps most stunning of all, if true, is that Dodger stadium had higher than normal instances of criminal activity than other similarly situated baseball stadiums.

What do you think?  Is it the Dodgers fault that someone was hurt?  Should a sports team be responsible for a fan hurting another fan?