A woman attacked by a friend’s pit bull received a $200,000 settlement for her injuries.
“Normally, the dog was kept in the basement, and for some reason, it was not put up like it should have been,” said Julia Kerr of Brown & Crouppen, which represented plaintiff Barbara Johnson. “It just knocked her down right at the threshold.”
Johnson ultimately secured a policy limits settlement with Country Mutual Insurance Co., which covered defendant Nicole Watkins.
Kerr said the dog, which attacked her client just as she arrived at her acquaintance’s house on May 4, 2013, had to be pulled off of her by two other people. Johnson was rushed to the hospital for a severed vein and lacerations to her leg so deep the tibia was visible, Kerr said.
The plaintiff spent three days at the hospital along with follow-up visits. It took three months and $27,000 in medical expenses for healing to be completed.
“There was horrific scarring,” Kerr said. “They did do a surgery basically just to debride and wash out the wound. They really couldn’t close the wound. A lot of time in these dog bite cases, they don’t stitch it up because of infection and bacteria.”
Future medical bills were estimated at $24,000.
Kerr said the negotiations took some time, but they eventually arrived at the policy limits.
“I don’t think there was really a dispute,” she said. “It was just that for some reason, they weren’t valuing it like I was so I actually did have to file a lawsuit.”
Kerr said the defendant should have realized the dog was dangerous.
“If a dog is locked in the basement, you obviously know about its injurious propensities even though we don’t have to prove that under the law anymore,” she said. “It is strict liability for dog bites.”
She said that because of the severity of the injuries and the likability of her client, she felt she would have had a good chance in court.
“I would try that case in a heartbeat,” she said.
David Butsch of Butsch Roberts & Associates, which represented the defendant, did not return a message requesting comment for this story.
Venue: St. Louis Circuit Court
Case number/date:1422-CC00306/Mar. 24, 2014
Judge: Philip D. Heagney
Insurer: Country Mutual Insurance Co.
Caption: Barbara Johnson v. Nicole Watkins
Plaintiff’s attorney: Julia M. Kerr, Brown & Crouppen,
Defendant’s attorney: David Butsch, Butsch Roberts & Associates, Clayton