Brain damaged man awarded $58million after bouncer smashed his head so badly a quarter of his skull had to be removed
- Antonio Lopez Chaj, 43, was attacked in a bar after trying to stop a fight
- A security guard beat Chaj with a baton, kicked him in the head eight times and smashed his skull against the pavement four times
- The security guard and bartender who sparked the attack have disappeared without a trace
- It is among the largest award in damages ever given to one person in California
By Tara Brady
PUBLISHED: 02:47 EST, 2 July 2013
A 43-year-old house painter so badly brain damaged he can’t speak has been awarded $58million by a jury after he was beaten by a bouncer who smashed half his skull in.
Antonio Lopez Chaj had to be supported by relatives at the news conference on Monday when lawyers announced the award against a security company in Torrance Superior Court.
It is among the largest award in damages ever given to one person in California, the lawyers said.
Injured: Antonio Lopez Chaj was so badly beaten a quarter of his skull was removed
When Chaj took off a baseball cap hiding his injuries, gasps were heard from those present.
‘His skull is like a pie with 25 percent cut out of it,’ said attorney Federico Sayre.
Lawyers said an unlicensed, untrained security guard beat Chaj with a baton, kicked him in the head eight times and smashed his skull against pavement four times.
Mr Chaj was attacked at a mid-Wilshire bar after trying to stop a fight between a bartender and security guard on two of his relatives
‘It was truly a horrendous and brutal beating by a guy who shouldn’t have been working at all,’ said Sayre, who represented Chaj along with Fernando Chavez, the son of famed civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.
The security guard, Emerson Quintanilla, and the bartender-manager who sparked the attack have disappeared without a trace, Sayre said.
Antonio Lopez Chaj (centre) had to be supported by relatives at the news conference on Monday
‘I think the man went crazy, lost his mind,’ he said of Quintanilla. ‘It was a species of road rage.’
Sayre said the confrontation begin April 20, 2010 when Chaj, his brother and two nephews, who all worked as house painters, went to Barra Latina, a neighborhood bar.
One of the relatives got into a dispute with the bartender-manager who came after him with brass knuckles, Sayre said.
Quintanilla, who was working for DGSP Security and Patrol Services, began kicking and beating members of the group.
Chaj tried to intervene and said, ‘Stop beating my nephews.’
At that point, Sayre said the guard beat Chaj into unconsciousness.
‘Part of his skull was gone when he reached the hospital.
‘They saved his life but he has significant brain damage,’ Sayre said. ‘He can’t speak and he requires 24-hour nursing care.’
He said Chaj faces more surgeries.
Phone messages seeking comment left with attorneys for the defendants were not immediately returned.
In civil courts, only nine of the 12 jurors have to agree on a verdict, Sayre said.
Support: Fernado Chavez, attorney and oldest son of late American labour leader Cesar Chavez, right, with Antonio Lopez Chaj (left)
But this jury was unanimous in finding for the plaintiffs on all claims, and it granted the $58 million award the plaintiffs requested.
Lawyers said they expect an appeal and there could be settlement negotiations before Chaj receives anything.