Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Massive Civil AwardIndependence, MO - Alan L. Hill, who suffered extensive injuries after being attacked by a group of pit bulls, was recently awarded $7.25 million by Judge Vernon E. Scoville, County Court Judge for Jackson County, Missouri. The May 4, 2006, attacks against Hill and two other adult men sparked an outcry for tougher dog laws in the City Independence and neighboring communities. After the attack, the Independence enacted a pit bull ban.
Judge Scoville ruled that several defendants should have known of the dogs' vicious propensities. Listed as defendants were Brittnee Ann Wisdom and James K. Knowles, the owners of the property the pit bulls escaped from, and Wisdom’s mother, Nancy J. Wisdom. Paul Piper, the owner of the dogs, and Bryan Smith, a handyman previously convicted of criminal charges in the case, were named as third-party defendants.
Dr. Charles Beggs, who helped treat Hill, said that large areas of one arm were missing tissue. There was extensive damage everywhere -- to the muscle, skin, blood vessels and nerves. Hill's rehabilitation, he said, "will take years." Judge Scoville agreed and ruled that the attack caused permanent disfigurement and disabling injuries. Hill’s medical bills exceeded $500,000, and his loss of direct and future income was estimated at more than $1 million.
The civil case shed new light on the near deadly 2006 attack, including the fact that the Wisdoms and Knowles all tried to contact animal control to have the pit bulls removed in the days before the dogs' rampage. Brittnee Wisdom left more than one note for Piper, telling him that he needed to have the dogs fenced in or restrained in a cage. "I just rented the place out and the people have small children," she wrote in the note.
On the morning of the attack, the Wisdoms drove to the house to meet animal control officers and have the dogs removed. But the officers had already left. The mother later called Smith to ask him to unlock the door for animal control. He did, but he also left a window open, and the dogs escaped. The dogs quickly went on a rampage, seriously injuring three people. Police eventually were able to locate the dogs and had the animals killed.
Smith later was sentenced to a year in jail for misdemeanor assault and was to serve 100 days in jail as shock time. Piper also was convicted in municipal court.
Related ZUPF video
12/04/07: Flashback: What Pit Bull Attack Victims Suffer, Alan Hill
Please donate to support our work
DogsBite.org is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity organization. Learn more »
| 10/24/2008 8:28 AM |
"anonymous" - what you fail to understand is that most government employees and officials have immunity from such civil lawsuits, which is a public policy concept that allows people to take such dangerous jobs. Who would want to be a judge, cop, sheriff, EMT, etc. if they were so exposed to liability? Here, while the facts are limited, the dogs were contained in a secure building. Animal control was contacted and responded - only no one was there to physically remove the dogs from the building and transfer possession to the animal control officers. What did the A/C officers do that was a "failure"? Nothing I can see. This is a great example of how civil plaintiffs attorneys can help force irresponsible pit bull owners and property owners to become responsible. Property Insurance Companies probably have amazing statistics on the risks pit bulls create - but all of that data is propietary, so it is virtually impossible to get that data. Any pit bull restrictions that actually allow for any pit bull to remain in a community should have strict standards for the owners to carry MASSIVE insurance -- this verdict can provide justification for the level of insurance coverage to be in the Multi-Million Dollar Level -- $5-7 Million.