Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Page 1


Court of Appeal:

Crowd Management Company Not Liable for Man’s Beating

Any Negligence on Part of Company Was Not Cause of Injuries to Rams Fan at Coliseum, Stratton Says


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The company that provides crowd management services at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is not liable to a fan who was injured by family members of a Rams player after the fan engaged in a verbal altercation with them, the Court of Appeal has held, saying that even if the company had adopted precautionary measures the plaintiff asserts it should have, he would probably, nonetheless, have been assaulted by those he had riled.

Presiding Justice Maria E. Stratton of this district’s Div. Eight authored the opinion. It was filed April 27 and certified for publication on Monday.

 The opinion affirms a summary judgment granted by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David J. Cowan in favor of Contemporary Services Corporation (“CSC”), as well as the Los Angeles Rams.

Plaintiff Enrique Romero primarily blamed CSC for his having been slapped by a female family member, then, as he recounted the incident to a television station, was struck in “the head, back of the neck and…face” by “three big men.”

Allegation Against Rams

In his opening brief, Romero only faintly contested the granting of summary judgment in favor of the Rams, saying:

“Even if, arguendo, the Rams had not been directly negligent themselves in their security arrangements for the game, they owed the Romeros a nondelegable duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition….The Rams cannot, therefore, escape liability for the negligent handling of the incident by CSC staff, who failed to take a number of reasonable ameliorative measures….”

Stratton wrote:

“We will treat appellants’ omission on appeal of the ameliorative measures they identified for the Rams in the trial court as a concession that there were no ameliorative measures which the Rams should have taken to prevent Enrique’s injuries.”

The presiding justice said that she, like Cowan, would proceed in the assumption that CSC had been negligent and that its negligence was ascribable to the Rams but concluded that Cowan correctly found that any negligence did not proximately cause Romero’s injuries.

2018 Occurrence

The incident occurred on Jan. 6, 2018. Romero, a season ticket-holder, was at the Coliseum with his wife and two daughters, both minors, to view a game between the Rams and the Atlanta Falcons.

Romero went with one of the daughters, who was 13, to the family section with the hope of taking photos of players as they came by to chat with their family members and friends. A squabble ensued between persons seated in the family section and Romero, who was apparently viewed as an intruder.

CSC supervisor James Mayhan came over, either before the quarrel started or while it was in progress, and asked Romero and his daughter to return to their seats; they declined; he said he would have the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”) intervene if they did not comply; they walked a few rows up the aisle as Mayhan escorted some of those present in the family section out of that area. Romero and his daughter had moved out of the aisles, into a row.

Romero waved goodbye to a woman with whom he had been arguing and Mayhan heard someone utter the word, “bitch.” The woman—who is unidentified in the briefs and in the opinion—then went into the row where Romero was standing and slapped him. Mayhan was knocked down.

Romero’s Account

As described in Romero’s second amended goodbye complaint (with paragraph numbers omitted): “Defendant JADA WOOLFOLK, who based on information and belief was and is the girlfriend of LOS ANGELES RAMS player number 92, Tanzel Smart and a male attendee/patron also believed to be related to Mr. Smart, and Defendant ROSE JOYNER, assaulted and physically attacked MR. ROMERO. Approximately two (2) other male attendees/patrons, whom are also believed to be related to Mr. Smart also joined in the physical assault.

“The attack resulted in MR. ROMERO suffering catastrophic and permanent physical injuries as well as psychological injuries given that MR. ROMERO reasonably feared for his life.

“As a result of the attack, MR. ROMERO’s daughter, YASMINE, was also physically hit by the attackers and suffered physical injuries.

“MRS. ROMERO, KARINA, and YASMINE were near the scene of the assault and battery and also witnessed in horror the assault and battery of MR. ROMERO.”

Romero’s wife and daughters were also plaintiffs.

Lack of Authorization

Romero set forth in his opening brief on appeal:

“[T]he CSC personnel assigned to the family section of the seating bowl were not authorized to eject fans, break up confrontations, or otherwise enforce the Fan Code of Conduct….This lack of authority directly allowed a verbal altercation between the assailants and Mr. Romero to persist and escalate to physical assault.

Stratton responded:

“Mayhan directed Enrique to clear the aisle in the family seating area, and it is undisputed that Enrique began walking up the aisle. Mayhan then began to walk up the aisle with the female family member and her companions. Although neither of these actions were a formal ‘ejection,’ they would have accomplished the same result as an ejection: the departure of the female family member from the Coliseum and Enrique from the seating area before the verbal altercation had become physical. Thus, CSC was doing what appellants contend it should have done to prevent an assault, but the assault still occurred. It is hard to imagine a clearer example of no causation. There is no room for a reasonable difference of opinion here.”

‘Commonsense Principle’

Romero also argued in his brief:

“CSC employee James Mayhan (without radioing for help) decided to take the Assailants up the aisle himself, passing directly by Mr.  Romero and his daughter, in complete contravention of the commonsense principle that fans in a verbal altercation with each other should be kept physically separated….Upon coming into arm’s reach of them, the Assailants repeatedly punched Mr. Romero while his daughter looked on.’

Stratton wrote:

“ ‘Directly past’ is a vague term, and ‘within arm’s reach’ an even vaguer one, but the record does not show Mayhan escorted the family members so close to Enrique that they could reach him while they were in the aisle walking past him. Enrique himself testified that he moved four or five seats into a row to let the family members pass. Both Enrique’s and Mayhan’s description of the assault showed that the female member had to turn, leave the aisle, enter the row where Enrique was standing and then move into the row to reach Enrique. Put differently, she did not slap him while she was standing in the aisle.”

Addressing the contention that the assailants should have been “physically separated” from Romero and his daughter, Stratton said:

“The court specifically found that Mayhan was able to physically place himself between Romero and the female family member after the slap. The evidence shows that Mayhan was then also between the male family members, as they knocked him down to get at Enrique. The court found there was no evidence that another CSC employee would have been able to separate the parties without being attacked or that Mayhan’s attempt to separate the parties was deficient. Put differently, the undisputed evidence showed that the physical presence of a CSC employee did not prevent the attack from occurring. There is no room for a reasonable difference of opinion here.”

Communications Issue

Romero asserted that “there is a triable issue of fact as to whether the improvement of communication” between CSC and LAPD and the security guards might have meant that assistance could have arrived in time to prevent the attack.

Without evidence as to response time, Stratton countered, “appellants have not created a triable issue of fact concerning whether improving CSC communications would have prevented the assault.”

The case is Romero v. Los Angeles Rams, 2023 S.O.S. 1554.

Attorneys on appeal were Oscar Ramirez, Matthew P. Blair and Kirill Lavinski of Blair & Ramirez, for Romero and his family; Robert P. Wargo, Jeffrey M. Lenkov and Steven J. Renick of Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester, for the Rams; and Gina E. Och; Skane Mills and Heather L. Mills of Murchison & Cumming for Contemporary Services Corporation.

The University of Southern California was also a defendant. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile granted summary judgment in its favor.

The plaintiffs dismissed Woolfolk and Joyner as defendants.


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