2 Years After Attack, Victim Awarded Compensation
San Francisco, CA - In March of 2007, a San Francisco jury awarded more than a half-million dollars to a woman mauled by a pit bull as she walked through the Mission District in December 2005. Susan Hertzfeldt, 38, was awarded $518,988 after being bitten in the face by one of two pit bulls loosely tied to a light post. She suffered a severe laceration to the mouth that required plastic surgery and caused permanent scarring and nerve damage.
One of her attorney's, John Hullverson, said that the award should make people think hard before they keep pit bulls as pets -- and make it clear that they will be held responsible for their dog's behavior. He said, "If you're going to own one, you better understand that there are problems with these dogs, and you are going to be held accountable for any injuries they cause." He hopes the lawsuit will prevent future attacks of a similar nature.
According to Hullverson, the two pit bulls, Bogart and Bitsy, had been involved in earlier incidents, including an attack on another dog, and had been declared "vicious and dangerous" by animal control. But in order to keep the dogs from being put to death, Bonnie Weinstein, one of the owners of the dogs, vowed to keep them leashed and muzzled in public. At the time this article was written, Weinstein could not be reached to comment.
Three weeks after Weinstein promised to keep the dogs muzzled and secured, her son, John Gould, left them loosely tied to a light post while he visited a fast food restaurant, Hullverson said. The pit bulls attacked Hertzfeldt as she walked past, and one of the dogs, Bogart, lunged at her face, ripping away a piece of her lip. After the attack, Gould fled with the dogs, and was fortunately apprehended 10 blocks away.
It is unknown if the victim was ever able to collect on this award.
Their verdict awarded $18,988 in medical expenses and $500,000 for physical pain, disfigurement and mental suffering.
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