While nearly 10,000 dog bites every year in the U.S. require emergency medical treatment, only a small percentage are fatal. According to DogBites.org, at least 31 people died in dog bite-related incidents last year.
In a recent wrongful death lawsuit before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, the widow of an elderly man who died after he was viciously attacked by several dogs while walking near his home sued the county and the county’s dog warden alleging negligence in performing statutory duty. Specifically, the widow asserted the dog warden allowed the vicious dogs to remain at-large, resulting in wrongful death. The warden was sued both personally and in her individual capacity. Plaintiff sought compensatory as well as punitive damages, alleging the violations were willful, wanton and reckless. (It should be noted that while the homeowner where the dogs resided was acquitted of criminal wrongdoing, but the owner of the dogs pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanors, including involuntary manslaughter. All the dogs were euthanized.)
The county moved to dismiss the wrongful death dog bite lawsuit, citing the public duty doctrine. Continue reading →