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Man with brain damage receives $58 million compensation

Posted on July 3, 2013

After a beating at a bar, 43-year-old house painter was left brain damaged, unable to speak and with half of his skull missing. He has been awarded compensation for his pain and suffering of $58 million by a jury.

Antonio Lopez Chaj appeared at a news conference Monday with lawyers who announced the award handed down against a security company Friday in Torrance Superior Court.

It was among the largest damage awards ever given to one person in California, the lawyers said. They said they expect an appear and there should be a settlement negotiations before Chaj receives anything.

Chaj 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 percent cut out of it,” said attorney Federico Sayre.

Chaj was attacked at mid-Wilshire bar after trying to intercede in an attack by a bartender and security guard on two relatives who were with them.

At the bar where the beating took place, 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, according to the lawyer.

“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.

“I think the man went crazy, los his mind,” he said of Quintanilla. “It was a species of road rage.”

Sayre said the confrontation began April 20th 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. Park 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 in his future.

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