Pltf. said def.'s two dogs bit him when he delivered package
|Dog Bite, Animals - Animal control, Gross Negligence|
|Jonathan Wayman v. Catherine Little and William Lee Little, No. C-1-CV-11-006541|
|Travis County Court at Law No. 2, TX|
- Leonard B. Gabbay; Leonard B. Gabbay P.C.; Austin, TX, for Jonathan Wayman
- David Feltoon Ph.D.; Psychology/Counseling; Austin, TX called by: Leonard Gabbay
- Mike Parsons; Animal; Austin, TX called by: Leonard Gabbay
- Brett H. Payne; Walters, Balido & Crain; Dallas, TX, for William Lee Little, Catherine Little
On Jan. 10, 2011, plaintiff Jonathan Wayman, 29, a delivery driver in Austin for a global parcel-delivery service, was delivering a package at the house of Catherine Little and her husband, who were not home. Wayman said that, after he left the package at the front door, on the porch, the Littles' two dogs cornered him on the porch, bit him, and knocked him down. There were no eyewitnesses.
The dogs were Dewey, a male border collie-type mix, and Becker, a male labrador-type mix. Both were about 7 years old and had been acquired by the Littles from a shelter around 2004.
Wayman sued the Littles for failing to control and restrain the dogs, one or both of whom had bitten someone in 2008, as well. Wayman alleged ordinary and gross negligence and strict liability.
Mr. Little was nonsuited before trial.
The 2008 bite victim testified that both dogs were involved in the 2008 incident and that they cornered her and "took her down." The city had records of that incident, but the records were vague about whether it was both dogs or just one.
Mrs. Little said that, on Jan. 10, 2011, she had left the dogs in the back yard and that she did not know how they escaped. According to Wayman's counsel, Mrs. Little could not recall whether she checked to make sure the wooden gate was latched, and she acknowledged that the gate was the only way the dogs could have gotten out of the back yard.
Wayman's counsel argued that the Littles took no other precautions to "[keep] the public safe from the dogs," except for an "invisible fence" around the perimeter of the front yard.
Wayman's expert Mike Parsons, an officer with Austin's animal services office, gave opinions relating to the office's responses to the Littles' request, if any, for public information about their dogs. Parsons also opined that the dogs had not been current on their rabies vaccinations, Wayman's attorney said.
The defense focused on damages, but denied negligence and strict liability, as well. The Littles said the dogs have always gotten along fine with their children (who grew up with the dogs) and with houseguests and visitors.
Wayman sustained several bites, the most severe of which was to his left calf. He was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and said he now has an overwhelming fear of dogs.
The wound to his calf was 2 inches in diameter and left a scar.
Wayman drove to the emergency room from the scene and received stitches in his calf. He followed up with a plastic surgeon a few times, and the stitches were removed.
In January 2012, he underwent testing by psychologist David Feltoon, who diagnosed him with PTSD. Wayman began psychological counseling in March or February and went several times. His last counseling session was in July. Feltoon, who was not the treating counselor, recommended more frequent, intensive counseling, which he said would cost $40,000 to $60,000.
Wayman is avid at running and working out and said that, for a month, until the bites healed, he could not run his usual 3-to-4 miles a day. He also said that, because of his PTSD, he still cannot run or work out at parks where people bring their dogs.
He missed 11 days of work because of the bite injuries. He was also suspended for a week for refusing to deliver packages to addresses where he said aggressive dogs lived. For three weeks' past lost wages, he sought $1,500.
His paid or incurred medical bills were $2,457. He also said he spent another $400 or so on bandages and medication for his scarring.
Wayman is a member of the Texas National Guard, and in spring 2012, he was selected to serve overseas in 2013. He said he fears he may not be able to fulfill those duties because of his PTSD.
The damages elements submitted were past and future medical bills, past and future lost wages, past and future disfigurement, past and future mental anguish, and past physical impairment.
He sought a total of about $225,000.
The defense stipulated to the paid or incurred medical bills and the first 11 days of past lost wages, but denied that Wayman has PTSD or any psychological problems as a result of the incident.
The defense noted that Wayman has no problem performing his current job duties and National Guard duties.
The jury found negligence by Mrs. Little and not Wayman, found Mrs. Little strictly liable (that the dogs had dangerous propensities of which she knew or should have known and which caused injury to Wayman), and found that Wayman's damages were $146,200.
The jury did not find gross negligence.
The dissenting juror was the lone female juror. She wanted to find Wayman negligent.
$3,000 Personal Injury: Past Medical Cost
$40,000 Personal Injury: Future Medical Cost
$1,000 Personal Injury: Past Physical Impairment
$1,200 Personal Injury: Past Lost Earnings Capability
$1,000 Personal Injury: FutureLostEarningsCapability
$45,000 Personal Injury: past mental anguish
$50,000 Personal Injury: future mental anguish
$5,000 Personal Injury: past physical pain
This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel and defense counsel.