Attorneys for the family of Joshua Martin, who was 19 at the time, say the Cobb County civil court jury found Six Flags was 92 percent at fault for the attack and four park employees were each 2 percent at fault.
That leaves Six Flags responsible for $32 million and the employees responsible for $3 million.
The employees have pleaded or been found guilty of violating Georgia’s Gang Act and aggravated assault.
“The jury understood the evidence that Six Flags tolerated its employees being in gangs and ignored the culture of violence on its property,” said attorney Andy Rogers in a statement issued Thursday. “Had Six Flags addressed these issues and provided reasonable security, Josh’s beating would not have happened.”
Martin traveled to the park July 3, 2007, to celebrate a friend’s acceptance into college. When leaving the park, Martin and his friends missed the bus at a stop just past Six Flags’ property line.
Just before Martin left the park, employees wearing colors associated with local gang YGL, which stands for young gangster living, threatened a family inside the park. The incident was reported to park security, but Six Flags did not have off-duty police officers present that night, according to the news release from Martin’s family attorneys.
After the gang wasn’t able to attack the family in the park, they randomly selected Martin and his friends, who were waiting at the bus stop, the attorneys said.
Martin was beaten with brass knuckles to the point of entering a coma. He remained in the coma for one week and has severe brain damage. Two of his friends escaped with lesser injuries.
“The brain injury in this case was clearly severe. Josh was in a coma for seven days. His life care plan showed a need for at least $7 million to assist Josh to live in the structured environment he needs,” said attorney Susan Cremer. “Six Flags chose not to present any experts or other witnesses to refute the diagnosis of brain damage, Josh’s life care plan, or his lost earning capacity.”
Six Flags maintains its innocence, said Emily Murray, spokeswoman for the park.
“What happened to Mr. Martin in 2007 was tragic, but the incident in question did not take place on our property. The jury verdict is not justified by the facts and we are determining our next steps,” Murray said. “The safety of our guests and employees is our highest priority.”
Attorneys say gang activity was prevalent at Six Flags. Employees hung photos in a locker room with tags associated with national gangs, like the Crips and Bloods, and local hangs like YGL, which stands for young gangster living, according the victim’s attorneys.
Six Flags defended its actions claiming that the bus stop where the beating occurred is just beyond the park’s property line.
A police officer testified during the seven-day trial that the bus stop was a hot bed for crime.
“Georgia law requires that a company like Six Flags keep its premises and approaches safe. In this case, Six Flags had taken control over Six Flags Parkway, a county road that was the only way for people to enter or exit Six Flags,” said attorney Gilbert Deitch. “It placed signs and exercised control over property Six Flags purported not to own. Under the unique facts of this case – with the prior drive-by shooting, the gang activity, and other violence at or near the bus stop – the jury correctly found that Six Flags had a duty to keep the only approach to its property safe.”