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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Woman Sues Dodgers For $1M Citing Lax Security

A woman who ended up being hit by another woman blames Dodgers security and is suing for $1M:
The central issue in the Los Angeles County Superior Court lawsuit is whether the Dodgers provided enough security at the ballpark in Chavez Ravine. Marta Parra Helenius, a 31-year-old nurse, claims the team didn't follow its own rules on how to handle unruly fans, leading to the assault and making her legally blind in one eye.

Helenius was punched in the parking lot after the San Francisco Giants pulled out a dramatic, ninth-inning victory on July 17, 2005, before 47,000 spectators. Denise Ordaz was charged with hitting Helenius, pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 270 days in jail last year.

"The Dodgers failed to follow their own fan code of conduct and their written security procedures, and negligently allowed this assault and battery to happen," according to Helenius' lawyer, David R. Glickman.

The trial began today before Judge Richard L. Fruin Jr.

The assault followed hours of verbal sparring during the game, much of it profane and loud. Helenius, though wearing a Dodger T-shirt, came with friends who were Giants fans. Seated nearby along the right field line were Ordaz and a group of Dodger fans.

In pretrial statements, Helenius said Ordaz was loud, abusive and insulting to the group of San Francisco fans with her.

Helenius complained to security guards, who moved Ordaz and her party 45 feet away. Ordaz said guards also detained her momentarily after the game, apparently in an attempt to keep the two groups separated.

When Helenius had walked about 400 yards from the stadium, Ordaz ran up screaming, punched Helenius once and fled, according to the police report. Security guards were flagged down, and Ordaz was detained, according to the lawsuit.

Ordaz said she acted in self-defense and that Helenius was about to hit her. She said she entered the plea last year not because she is guilty, but because her lawyer advised her to.

At first I thought this was just another silly lawsuit, but it looks like the woman involved has suffered serious physical injury. Since the assault seems to have taken place on the Dodger Stadium grounds, there's at least a whiff of culpability, though honestly it's not clear what Dodgers security could have done differently.

My reaction is to avoid going to Giants games altogether. It seems to draw the worst kind of morons into the stadium.

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In a case like this one, it's not so much about what security could have done differently, but simply whether there was enough security to begin with. This is particularly so given the history of incidents in the parking lot, particularly after Giants' games. Arguably, the team knew or should have known that it needed to step things up.

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