1.8 Million Award Approved
UPDATE 05/20/08: Daniel Decembre will receive $1.8 million dollars from the Orange County School Board after being severely mauled by a pit bull-mix on March 4, 2003 while on the premises of Ridgewood Park Elementary School. Senate Bill 54 was signed by the governor on May 19, 2008. School officials acknowledged that in the three years before the attack, Ridgewood Elementary had called county animal control 19 times to have dogs removed from the campus.
Read the final bill passed by the Florida legislature and signed by the governor.
An act relating to the Orange County School Board; providing for the relief of Daniel Decembre, a minor, by and through his court- appointed guardian; providing for an appropriation to compensate Daniel Decembre for injuries and damages he sustained; providing legislative intent; providing a limitation on the payment of fees and costs; providing an effective date.
WHEREAS, on March 4, 2003, a dog came onto the school premises of Ridgewood Park Elementary School, located in Orange County, Florida, and attacked Daniel Decembre, causing him serious and permanent injuries, and as a result of this dog attack, Daniel has had to undergo several correc- tive surgeries, and
WHEREAS, the Orange County School Board and its agents and employ- ees had advance notice of the dangerousness of dogs entering the school premises of Ridgewood Park Elementary School and had reported several incidents of loose dogs on the campus of the school to the Orange County Animal Services, and
WHEREAS, the Orange County School Board and its agents and employ- ees knew or should have known that dogs on the school premises of Ridge- wood Park Elementary School would and could harm one of its students, such as Daniel Decembre, and
WHEREAS, the Orange County School Board and its agents and employ- ees failed to secure the premises of Ridgewood Park Elementary School from dogs entering where Daniel Decembre was injured, and
WHEREAS, as a direct and proximate result of negligence by the Orange County School Board and its agents and employees, Daniel Decembre suf- fered serious physical and mental injuries; will continue to experience men- tal and physical pain and suffering, disability, and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life; and will require additional medical care, surgeries, psychi- atric care, and hospitalization, continuing beyond the age of majority, and ... (Read in full)
04/18/08: Awaits Legislative Ruling archived
Orlando, FL - The Orange County School Board was ordered by the Florida Senate to pay $1.8 million to the parents of a boy badly mauled by a 50-pound pit bull-labrador mix at Ridgewood Elementary School in 2003. Daniel Decembre was severely injured as an 8-year-old while on school grounds. The dog terribly mauled his eyelids, cheeks and chin. Daniel lost much of his right ear and later had to have his left ear amputated. The measure still has to pass the House.
Learn more about the attack details in the Special Master's Final Report:
On March 4, 2003, after regular classes had ended at Ridgewood Park Elementary School in Orlando, Daniel Decembre, then 8 years old, was talking with a friend while waiting for his after-school tutoring class to begin. Daniel saw a large dog running straight for him and he began to run toward a playground area where there were teachers and other students. Daniel tripped and fell down as he ran across a broad drainage swale. The dog jumped on top of Daniel and began to maul him, biting him repeatedly on his face and head.
A teacher drove her car over to the area and tried without success to knock the dog away with the car. Other teachers threw things at the dog. One teacher beat the dog with an umbrella until it finally stopped its attack.
Daniel’s injuries were extensive. He was taken via air ambulance to the hospital. He had deep lacerations of both cheeks, his eyelids, and chin. He lost much of his right ear and his left ear had to be amputated. He has undergone four subsequent surgeries to repair the damage to his face and eyes.
Daniel suffered permanent physical injuries to his face and head. He will need several more surgeries and a prosthetic ear implant which must be replaced every 2 to 5 years (to account for his growth) until he reaches physical maturity. He has recurring pain on the left side of his head, some facial nerve damage, and the tear duct of his left eye continually runs.
The incident also caused Daniel lasting psychological trauma. He has frequent nightmares and is now afraid to be near dogs. The incident, subsequent surgeries, and his recovery caused Daniel to fall a year behind in school. Unfortunately, he is regularly teased at school due to his disfigurement.
The dog belonged to a man who lived in a house adjacent to the school grounds. He said that the dog bolted through the front door when his daughter came into the house. There was no explanation in the record for why the dog’s owner did not immediately run after the dog and arrive sooner to prevent or to help stop the dog’s attack on Daniel. The evidence only shows that owner arrived after the attack had ended and took the dog back to his house. The owner was issued a citation and he paid a fine. The pit bull was put to sleep.
In the 3 years preceding the attack on Daniel, officials at Ridgewood Park Elementary had called Orange County Animal Services 19 times to have dogs removed from the school campus. None of the prior incidents had involved a dog bite or attack on a student or adult ... (Read in full)