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Jury sides with defense in dog-bite case

David Baugher//October 23, 2018

Jury sides with defense in dog-bite case

David Baugher//October 23, 2018

A southwest Missouri woman was unable to convince a jury she was owed damages for a number of alleged attacks by a neighbor’s dogs.

Plaintiff Kathalana Klein alleged that dogs belonging to neighbors Bruce and Debra Buxton attacked her and horses that she owned on her property several times during a period of several years. In particular, she alleged that a 2009 attack in which a dog pulled her from a fence from several feet in the air resulted in abrasions to her arms and wrists, and “immediate and significant pain to her entire right side,” said Megan E. Ray of Andereck, Evans, Lewis, Figg & Battagler.

Ray assisted lead attorney Shawn P. Battagler in defending the Buxtons. Battagler said the plaintiff’s story was “ever-changing,” and there was little evidence beyond her testimony to back up the claims. Both parties own property in the rural village of Halfway, according to court filings.

“Significant facts changed, including the nature of her injuries and the number of animals alleged to be injured by the defendant’s dogs,” he said.

Klein alleged a limp from at least one incident, which prevented her from working as a truck driver, and she introduced testimony from a veterinarian regarding the injuries to livestock, Ray said. She claimed at least one horse perished in connection with the incidents.

“[The veterinarian] was not able to support anything other than the fact that he had been out there on a day around the time they were talking about and treated some of their horses,” Battagler said.

He said there was no medical doctor introduced to support the plaintiff’s claims of injury, although the defense brought in an expert to cast doubt on the causes of her medical problems.

Steven Klein, Kathalana’s husband, sought compensation in the case based on loss of consortium due to his wife’s injuries.

Ray said the plaintiff requested $325,000 at trial. Jurors awarded 50 percent fault to each party but found no damages in the case.

Battagler complimented opponent’s counsel Joseph D. Baker of Baker Law for his professionalism in the matter.

Baker did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

Defense verdict

Personal injury

Venue: Polk County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 16PO-CC00010/June 1, 2018

Judge: John Porter

Defendant’s Experts: Ted Lennard, Springfield, (medical)

Last Pretrial Demand: $325,000

Caption: Kathalana Klein and Steven Klein v. Bruce Buxton and Debra Buxton

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Joseph D. Baker, Baker Law, Osceola

Defendant’s Attorneys: Shawn P. Battagler and Megan E. Ray, Andereck, Evans, Lewis, Figg & Battagler, Springfield

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