$500,000 recovered for St. Charles County Dog Mauling


$500,000 recovered for St. Charles County Dog Mauling


I recently resolved a St. Charles County dog mauling case for $500,000.00, which I believe is the highest recovery ever recovered for a dog bite case in the county.

On October 17, 2009, my client and his grandson were enjoying his backyard when a pit bull mix named “Rufus” owned by a rear facing neighbor suddenly and without warning began barking ferociously. Soon after barking, Rufus charged the fence separating the two properties and attempted to get into my client’s yard through a hole the dog had dug under the fence line. Fearful that the dog would make it under the fence, he began to place bricks inside the hole to act as a barrier.

While my client was placing several bricks in the hole, Rufus put his head under the fence, grabbed him by the hand, pulled him to the ground, and dragged him underneath the fence before gouging into his arm. The dog did not release its grip until it was struck in the head by a rock from a neighbor.

Upon arriving at the dog owner’s house, St. Charles County Animal Control found Rufus acting extremely aggressive towards other officers on the scene. As soon as an Animal Control officer placed a control rod around the dog it became even more violent, and attempted to bite the rod. Despite the dog’s violent behavior, the dog’s owner stated that he had never had a problem with the dog biting, attacking, or acting viciously. After spending several days in quarantine, the dog was put down.

Research I conducted along with the St. Peters Police Department and St. Charles County Animal Control revealed that at the time of the attack, the dog’s owner had been in violation of at least four City of St. Peters ordinances, including sections 205.020 (failure to provide adequate food, shelter, and protection), 205.120 (dog loose on owner’s property without sufficient restraint), 205.130 (habitual barking/nuisance), and 205.300 (biting). Other neighbors had repeatedly complained about the dog barking before the attack, but no neighbors had ever been attacked or bitten.

As a result of the attack, my client was taken to the emergency room at St. John’s Hospital with tissue injuries to his right forearm, wrist, and hand. He had a large de-gloving injury to his forearm which included a full thickness loss of skin and subcutaneous tissues from the dorsal and volar sections with exposure of muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. He also sustained deep lacerations and an open fracture of his right palm and fifth finger. These injuries included cuts to the radial and ulnar nerves, multiple extensor tendons and extensor muscles. My client underwent several surgeries and had local wound care which included twice daily dressing changes and whirlpool treatment in addition to narcotics and IV antibiotics from an infectious disease specialist.

While my client had a large amount of damages from the mauling, the challenging part of the case involved proving liability. In Missouri, generally you cannot recover damages from the owner of a dog that causes physical harm unless you can show the owner possessed knowledge prior to the incident at issue of the dog’s vicious or dangerous propensities, which is often very difficult to prove without independent witnesses. In my client’s case, the owner denied such knowledge and no one could be found to testify to any prior aggressive behavior.

With such a strict liability claim not an option, I then looked to the Animal Control ordinances of the city of St. Peters to determine if any would apply to my client’s situation. This is where I found that at least four city ordinances had been violated. In Missouri, such violations constitute per se negligence if the injured is a member of the class of persons said ordinance was intended to protect and the injuries are the type that the ordinance was designed to prevent. Since my client met these requirements, liability was established.

Aside from strict liability claims and negligence per se, there are other ways of establishing liability that I have used in other cases. If you have been attacked or bitten by a dog, I am more than willing to discuss these claims with you. Please remember that every case depends on the facts and no prior outcome is a guarantee of future success. This is why you need a lawyer to evaluate your claim.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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