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Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim 

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Old 07-03-2013, 12:54 AM
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Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

Torrance Jury Awards Nearly $58 Million to Beating Victim, Possibly Largest Ever in South Bay

By Larry Altman, Staff Writer

06/28/2013 06:55:46 PM PDT

A Torrance jury on Friday awarded what is believed to the largest judgment in the history of the South Bay courthouse, "nearly $58 million," to a Los Angeles man beaten so severely by a guard in a bar that he can no longer speak, walk without help or take care of himself.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs were concerned when their case was assigned from the downtown Los Angeles courthouse to Torrance because South Bay jurors have a reputation for issuing conservative judgments.

"I didn't think I'd get a verdict this size in Torrance," attorney Federico Castelan Sayre said. "I underestimated the Torrance jury."

The case against DGSP Security and Patrol Services, which played out in Judge Dudley Gray II's courtroom during the past two weeks, stemmed from an April 19, 2010, skirmish that left Antonio Lopez Chaj permanently brain-damaged and deformed.

Chaj, his brother and two nephews had been drinking at the La Barra Latina 2, at Eighth Street and Catalina Street, in Los Angeles when one of the men ordered another drink. The bartender denied the request, prompting Chaj's nephew, Eric Chaj, to call him an obscene name in Spanish. The bartender then cracked Eric in the head with brass knuckles, knocking him unconscious.

A security guard, Emerson Quintanilla, ran over and began kicking the nephew and hitting him with a metal baton, Sayre said. Another nephew tried to intervene, but the guard pepper sprayed him and hit him with the baton until he was unconscious, Sayre said.

Chaj then stepped in. The security guard then struck him in the head several times with the baton and dragged him from the bar. He kicked him in the head six times, grabbed hold of his shirt and slammed the back of his head into the pavement four times, Sayre said.

Chaj, a painter who sent money home to a wife and two teenage children in Guatemala, suffered life-threatening brain injuries. Doctors at County-USC Medical Center removed a portion of his brain and skull, leaving his head severely deformed.

He spent six weeks in the hospital and another 18 months in a care facility. His family members, all immigrant painters, pool $600 a month together to pay for 24-hour care. Chaj needs help eating, walking and cleaning himself.

"He knows he's horribly damaged and he cries about it," Sayre said.

Although Los Angeles police responded to the bar, no criminal charges were filed. Attorney Fernando Chavez, son of the late civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, filed a suit against the security guard company, enlisting the aid of Sayre, who represented motorist Rodney King and won $3.8 million from the Los Angeles Police Department for his infamous videotaped beating in 1991.

The case keyed on the fact DGSP security never checked that the security guard it employed was licensed and trained. "The guy should never have been hired and been there that night," Sayre said.

Although the case was filed in downtown Los Angeles, new Superior Court plans to deal with budget cuts by chance put the case in Torrance. All civil cases are now administered downtown and sent for trial to any open courtroom.

"I was dismayed at being assigned to Torrance," Sayre said. The Torrance jury pool, Sayre said, has a reputation for being, "parsimonious," awarding some of the most conservative judgments in the county.

Gerald Duffy, the attorney for DGSP, agreed that, "usually Torrance courts are more conservative on the damages."

Duffy acknowledged, however, that he didn't have a defense. Witnesses from the bar, including the guard, disappeared. He could not counter the story of what happened to Chaj. Duffy said his goal on behalf of the security guard company's insurer was to reduce the damages.

Jurors quickly decided 12-0 in favor of Chaj. All that mattered was the numbers.

Economics and life care experts for the defense put Chaj's life expectancy at 70. Sayre and Chavez's experts put it at 78. The plaintiffs put future medical expenses and care at $11 million. The defense put it at $4 million.

Jurors gave the plaintiffs every penny they asked for, plus nearly $250,000 in past economic and medical losses; $11.5 million in future medical expenses and lost earnings; $35 million for pain and suffering already incurred; and $11 million for future pain and suffering. It all added up to $57,748,022.

"When they hit that number, my hand started shaking," Chavez said.

Duffy said there is no doubt the judgment will be appealed.

"(Jurors), said, 'We wanted to make sure he was taken care of for the rest of his life.' They clearly did not like the facts of the case. It's a tragedy," Duffy said. "They just felt our guy who employed, (the guard), was ultimately responsible to make sure he doesn't do these things."

Sayre said the assignment to Torrance turned out to be positive. Judge Gray told the attorneys he believed it was the largest award ever at the courthouse.

"I got a great jury," Sayre said.

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Old 07-03-2013, 09:25 AM
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Re: Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

So who is going to pay? That i dont get.

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Old 07-03-2013, 09:35 AM
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Re: Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

Great so some drunk ass who gets cut off at at bar and starts shit is now entitled to $58M??

Now we are going to see more DUIs and idiots at the bar because bar owners dont want this shit to happen to them

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Old 07-03-2013, 09:36 AM
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Re: Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

Quote:
Originally Posted by peema View Post
So who is going to pay? That i dont get.
the club owner via insurance most likely

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Old 07-03-2013, 09:40 AM
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Re: Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

the BEST line from this case:

Quote:
Antonio Lopez Chaj was awarded $58 million by a jury today after a beating by a bar security guard left him with a skull his attorney described as, "like a pie with 25 percent cut out of it."

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Old 07-03-2013, 10:07 AM
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Re: Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

Not like he's going to be enjoying that 58 mil.. The guy's practically a vegetable.

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Old 07-03-2013, 06:09 PM
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Re: Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

I wouldn't mind him sitting front of me at any shows.

I've seen the skull removed when the brain swells, but, they usually freeze it and put it back eventually.

This guy's head already has hair growing where it was removed. Looks odd to me

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Old 07-03-2013, 11:15 PM
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Re: Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

The club has sufficient coverage to pay $52M? Most likely someone will claim bankruptcy and the plaintiff will get a small fraction of that money (minus 33% or whatever goes to the lawyer):2gunsfirin g_v1:

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Old 07-04-2013, 04:33 AM
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Re: Severely Beaten L.A. Man Awarded $58M

oh my god..

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Old 07-04-2013, 04:45 AM
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Re: Severely Beaten L.A. Man Awarded $58M

Fuck, I've just found out that this is a repost, my apologies to Diamondsmiles, i'll report it
Jury Awards Nearly $58M to Beating Victim

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