Antonio López Chaj Awarded $58 Million After Beating Resulted In Brain Damage

Antonio López Chaj
Image AP

A California jury awarded $58 millions to Antonio López Chaj, a Latino that was beaten up and seriously hurt by an unlicensed bouncer at a bar when he tried to break up a fight between his nephews and a bartender.

López Chaj, 43, suffered permanent brain damage, can't speak, barely walks and lost part of his brain and skull.

The jury ruled that based on the evidence, the amount of money described on the verdict was fair and reasonable, said Fernando Chávez, one of López Chaj's lawyers, and oldest son of Mexican-American activist César Chávez.

"Before such a widespread damage, this amount was necessary," agreed Federico Sayre, the other lawyer involved with the case.

Lawyers said an unlicensed, untrained security guard beat López Chaj with a baton, kicked him in the head eight times and smashed his skull against pavement four times.

"I think the man went crazy, lost his mind," Sayre said of the bouncer. "It was a species of road rage."

Members of the jury found that the company DGSP Security and Patrol Services was negligent when hiring Emerson Quintanilla, the security guard that beat up the victim, without verifying that he had a valid license, training and permit to use a baton.

"It was truly a horrendous and brutal beating by a guy who shouldn't have been working at all," added Sayre. Quintanilla, and the bartender-manager who sparked the attack have disappeared without a trace.

"We're happy with the verdict, but at the same time, upset to see my brother in this condition," said Thomas Chaj, one of Antonio's brothers who was at the bar when the incident took place in April 29, 2010.

As a consequence of the violent acts, Antonio López Chaj was in coma for a month and a half and in physical therapy for 18 months. "Doctors couldn't believe when he opened one of his eyes," remembered Pedro, his other brother.

"It was hard for us to see our brother almost dead, without knowing who to go to or where to find a lawyer. We didn't always understand the language and we were scared because we're undocumented," revealed Thomas, with a noticeable sadness.

"We were lucky that there were non-related witnesses that night," said Chávez. "Their testimony was crucial, because they never said that it was a brawl, but someone being beaten up."

The jury voted 12-0 benefiting López Chaj. "There was only one Latina in the jury, but the members didn't see the victim as an undocumented Latino, but as a human being," said Chávez.

"This case gives hope to those Latinos who think they can't get justice because they're undocumented," added Sayre.

"Yes we can!" completed Chávez, with a smile on his face.



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Maria G. Valdez

Maria was born and raised in Dominican Republic, where she began her career in journalism covering human interest stories, entertainment, beauty and wellness for a national magazine. She moved to New York City to study Musical Theatre, but went back to journalism after graduating in an attempt of becoming the Latina Carrie Bradshaw. She has an unhealthy obsession with JLo and claims to be Sofia Vergara’s long-lost daughter, and has tried a crazy amount of treatments to keep looking young. She became a Zumba instructor for fun.