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Woman bitten by own dog settles with adoption agency

A Clay County dog owner attacked by her own pet will receive a $160,000 settlement from the agency that allowed her to adopt it.

Elizabeth Seymour sued the KC Pet Project in connection to injuries she received from an American Staffordshire Bulldog she acquired in September 2017 for $120. Launched under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the suit claimed that the defendant knew about the dog’s propensity for violence.

“Given how violent this dog was and how extensive its bite history was just in the short amount of time my client had the dog, they must have had more information about how the dog behaved,” said Kyle Belew of the Barnes Law Firm.

He said the new pet nipped at friends and family. After being contacted about the problem, the defendant sent out a behavior specialist to address the issue.

A few months later, however, the pet assaulted the plaintiff and inflicted numerous injuries to her left arm, including broken bones and damaged tendons. Seymour required skin grafts after the incident, which left permanent scarring.

Belew said the defendant did not dispute the extent of his client’s injuries but claimed it disclosed everything it knew about the dog.

The defendant also alleged contributory negligence by claiming that the plaintiff, who was attempting muzzle training at the time of the attack, had not followed all of the behaviorist’s instructions, Belew said.

Seymour also had initially signed a document releasing the KC Pet Project from liability in the matter.

“There was an affirmative statement saying, ‘We don’t know what kind of behavior these dogs are going to have in a home setting. We can only observe them in the shelter,’” he said. “I don’t think that, in the instance of the MMPA claim, the waiver would have played a huge role, but certainly in the negligence claim that could have potentially been a huge issue.”

Jennifer Johnson, who assisted lead attorney Michelle Stewart of the Hinkle Law Firm in representing the defendant, declined to comment.

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Personal injury

Venue: Jackson County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 1816-CV21278/May 8, 2019

Insurer: Travelers

Caption: Elizabeth Seymour v. KC Pet Project

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Kyle S. Belew and John M. Cusick, Barnes Law Firm, Kansas City

Defendant’s Attorneys: Michelle R. Stewart and Jennifer R. Johnson, Hinkle Law Firm, Overland Park, Kansas