A jury has awarded $20.5 million to a St. Louis man who was permanently disabled in a fight in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box restaurant in St. Louis.
Ali Aziz suffered permanent brain damage and cannot walk or feed himself after being beaten in June 2010 when an outdoor dance party turned into a brawl. Four people were sentenced to prison for injuring Aziz, who spent more than one year in a coma.
Aziz, 35, sued Jack in the Box, contending it could have prevented the fight and did not properly train its employees. Last week, a jury awarded Aziz $25 million after an eight-day civil trial but reduced the award to $20.5 million, saying Aziz was partially to blame for the fight.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Jack in the Box said in a statement it might appeal the ruling, contending Aziz provoked the situation.
"This tragic event could have been avoided had the plaintiff not provoked an altercation, and the evidence supporting that fact was overwhelming," the company said. "We're shocked and disappointed by the verdict and do not believe it was even remotely supported by the evidence."
Court documents indicate Aziz was beaten when he went to aid a friend who was arguing with another man over a woman around 5 a.m. Aziz was knocked to the pavement and then kicked and punched in the head.
"They're beating the crap out of this boy," a witness to the fight said on a 911 recording. "You need to get somebody here now."
Aziz had worked as a kitchen manager at Pi Pizzeria in Kirkwood before the fight. But now he has a hip that's still dislocated and he cannot feed himself or use his arms well. His legs and arms are bent and locked against his torso.
He talks with the help of a device in his throat, and his hospital bed is in his family's dining room.
When a doctor told Aziz's mother she could choose to remove her son from life support after the fight, she refused. She's now his full-time caretaker.
"I told them, plain and simple, that God has the last word," Annette Brown said. "And Ali is still here. He wants to live."