As an experienced San Diego dog bite attorney, it is not uncommon to hear of litigation in instances in which people sustain injuries as a result of a dog or another animal biting them. Most times, the injured party will file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog or another person tasked with caring for the animal. Less common, however, is the nature of the claims found in a recent case, in which the representatives of a woman who was killed by several dogs pursued various claims against the local governmental agency tasked with animal control issues.
The lawsuit arose out of a situation in which a woman was fatally attacked by several pit bull dogs in Los Angeles County in May 2013. The owner of the dogs was convicted of second-degree murder as a result of the attack. When the lawsuit was initially pursued against the defendant, herein designated as the “Department,” the plaintiffs were apparently told that there was nothing the Department could have done differently to prevent the attack. Over time, however, the plaintiffs were contacted by a former employee/whistleblower, and additional subsequent evidence was purportedly uncovered that suggested the Department had been called in regard to the dogs involved in the attack on several occasions — on at least seven occasions in the 18 months preceding the attack alone.
As early as June 2005, and again in January 2006, the Department received complaints that a pack of pit bulls was running “at large,” attacking livestock, pets, and people — reportedly having escaped from the owner’s property. The Department did not impound the dogs at that time, as required by the County code. This was even though the Department reportedly observed that the owner was keeping more than three dogs, which according to County law necessitated a kennel license.