Seeking $80,000 in Damages
Back in March, we reported a story about Gloria Hodges, 74-years old. After a pit bull attacked her and her dog Pepper, the dog owner left the scene without a word. 3 weeks after the attack, Hodges still could not make a fist. Hodges is a church organist and pianist. She says she is finally making music again (6 months later), but her hands ache every time she presses the keys.
Due to her chronic discomfort, she and her husband went to great lengths to track down the person they believe is responsible for her injuries. Hodges has filed an $80,000 lawsuit in Lane County Circuit Court against Elizabeth May Alexander, a Ventura, CA, resident who used to live in the neighborhood where a pit bull pounced on Hodges' schnauzer, Pepper.
Hodges and her husband, retired Circuit Court Judge Bryan Hodges, are certain the pit bull belonged to Alexander. But Alexander’s attorney says the Hodges are targeting the wrong person. Eugene attorney David Moule said that Alexander "was quite shocked to be served (with the civil lawsuit)." Moule does not exactly know why they think she is the dog’s owner.
The Hodges hired a local private investigator to crack the case. The couple initially called Eugene police, who referred the matter to Lane County Animal Services, but could not locate a suspect. The Hodges’ investigator ultimately obtained information about Alexander from her former landlord. Gloria was shown a photo of Alexander, and identified her as the pit bull’s owner.
Alexander’s attorney says his client does not own a pit bull.
The civil suit could boil down to she-said, she-said in which a jury is asked to decide whether the Hodges' have gathered enough information to prove that Alexander is responsible for the dog attack. The standard of proof in a civil lawsuit is lower than that of a criminal case. Plaintiffs in civil suits must only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that their claims are true.
Hodges seeks $75,000 from Alexander for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. Hodges also wants $4,741.34 to cover medical expenses for her and her dog. Following the attack, an ambulance took Hodges to a hosptial, where she spent five hours in the emergency room. She remains under the care of a hand doctor and a physical therapist.
03/25/08: Pit Bull Attack Still an Open Wound for 74-Year Old Victim