$63 million to man with caved-in skull
A Los Angeles jury has awarded $63 million to a man whose skull was smashed when a bouncer beat him outside a bar in 2010.PT1M4S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2pb08 620 349 July 3, 2013
A house painter left so badly brain damaged that he is unable to speak has been awarded $63 million by a US jury after a beating at a bar left him with half his skull permanently bashed in.
Antonio Lopez Chaj appeared at a news conference in Los Angeles this week with lawyers who announced the ($US58m) award handed down against a security company on Friday in Torrance Superior Court.
It was truly a horrendous and brutal beating by a guy who shouldn't have been working at all.
It was among the largest damage awards ever given to one person in California, his lawyers said.
Antonio Lopez Chaj, 43, lost a quarter of his skull in the brutal attack. Photo: AP
They added they expect an appeal and there could be settlement negotiations before Mr Chaj even receives anything.
The 43-year-old had to be supported by relatives at the news conference. When he took off a baseball cap hiding his injuries, gasps could be heard from people present.
"His skull is like a pie with 25 per cent cut out of it," said lawyer Federico Sayre.
Mr Chaj has been awarded $63 million, among the highest payouts ever handed down by a California jury. Photo: AP
Mr Chaj was attacked at a mid-Wilshire bar after trying to intervene in an attack by a bartender and security guard on two relatives who were with him.
Lawyers said an unlicensed, untrained security guard beat Mr Chaj with a baton, kicked him in the head eight times and smashed his skull against pavement four times.
"It was truly a horrendous and brutal beating by a guy who shouldn't have been working at all," said Mr Sayre, who represented Mr Chaj along with Fernando Chavez, the son of famed civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.
Antonio Lopez Chaj, centre, is assisted to walk down the stairs by his nephew Eric Chaj, left, and his brother Pedro Chaj, right, to appear at a news conference in Los Angeles. Photo: AP
The security guard, Emerson Quintanilla, and the bartender-manager who sparked the attack have disappeared without a trace, he added.
"I think the man went crazy, lost his mind," he said of Mr Quintanilla. "It was a species of road rage."
Mr Sayre said the confrontation began on April 20, 2010 when Mr Chaj, his brother and two nephews, who all worked as house painters, went to Barra Latina, a neighbourhood bar.
One of the relatives got into a dispute with the bartender-manager who came after him with brass knuckles, Mr Sayre said while Mr Quintanilla, who was working for DGSP Security and Patrol Services, began kicking and beating members of the group.
Mr Chaj tried to intervene and said, "Stop beating my nephews." At that point, Mr Sayre said, the guard beat him into unconsciousness. Part of his skull was gone when he reached the hospital.
"They saved his life but he has significant brain damage," Mr Sayre said. "He can't speak and he requires 24-hour nursing care." He said his client faced more surgery.
In civil courts, only nine of the 12 jurors have to agree on a verdict, the lawyer said. But this jury was unanimous in finding for the plaintiffs on all claims, and it granted the $US58 million award the plaintiffs requested.