Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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Dog Bite Verdicts & Settlements


DateTypeLocationOutcomeAnimal behavior
Fact Pattern
2017CivilFloridaDefense verdictProvocation;
Friendly nature of Golden retrievers
Knocked down by Golden retriever on elderly lady. Defense argued that plaintiff provoked dog to jump.
2014CivilMassachusettsJury awards $100,000 to plaintiffTerritorial defense; ProvocationPlaintiff, an invitee, walks into apartment and shortly thereafter attacked by a pit bull. Defense argued prior teasing of dog by plaintiff prompted the pit bull to attack.
2018CivilArizonaAZ Supreme Court overturns $650,000 award to plaintiffInherently dangerous nature of attack-trained K-9sAward to plaintiff nullified based on theory that negligence against handler for dog bite by K-9 not valid since the handler released the dog with intent. (McDonald v. Klein, Pima Co).
2020CriminalCaliforniaDog owner sentenced to 3 yrs in prison after guilty plea to manslaughter chargesProper containment of dogNegligent care and control of dog in fatal dog attack in November 2019 in Fresno county.
2005CivilCalifornia$13,120 verdictProper containment of dogs; Foreseeability based on alleged dangerous nature of dogsPit bull and German Shepherd attacked plaintiff after escaping from defendant's property. Plaintiff sustained bites to her legs and hands, and post-traumatic stress. $47,000 in medicals, $130,000 future lost income. Punitive damages against defendants. Defense argued plaintiff exaggerating injuries and no evidence of prior dangerous nature of dogs.
2013CivilIllinois$1.1 million settlment Proper confinement; Dangerous propensities;
Foreseeability of attack;
Predatory aggression
120 lb. male Bull mastiff, escaped from chain-link enclosure and attacked 15-year-old boy riding a bicycle. The attack lasted 10 minutes. Victim was hospitalized for 1 week. He was bitten extensively over body and suffered psychological damages. Read more
2010CivilGeorgia$72 million Inclusive of compensatory and punitive damages awarded by jury, later reduced to $36 million by CourtInherent dangers of keeping in attack-trained dog in a residential neighborhood; Foreseeability that dog would escape and attack a child in the neighborhood
Eight-year-old girl playing basketball in front of her home attacked by 2 pit bulls; Left arm of victim partially amputated and right arm severely damaged. Read more
2019Civil California$247,000 verdictOwner control of the dogThe defendants dog charged a 47-year-old lady causing her to startle and fall. The plaintiff was walking her dog on the sidewalk abutting the front yard of the defendant. The plaintiff was not bitten or knocked-down. The defendant's dog never left the property.Read more
2011CivilWashington$2.2 million awarded to plaintiff apportioned between defendants. Appellate court affirmed verdict along with the full award in 2014. Washington state Supreme Court refused to hear the case.Responsibility animal control had to remove dangerous pit bull's from neighborhoodPlaintiff was sleeping at night when two pit bull's entered her bedroom, first attacking her two dogs, killing one, and then mauling plaintiff after she tried to stop the attack with a shotgun. Jury sent a message to animal control for their negligence with high award for plaintiff. Read more
2021CivilCalifornia$20 million verdict Inherently dangerous nature of an attack-trained K9Action brought against the city of Exeter for their negligence in selling an inherently dangerous "retired" police K9 to the handler. K9 escaped from handler's backyard and killed a neighbor and seriously injured a 90 y.o. lady. Previous criminal trial In San Luis Obispo against the handler resulted in a controversial acquittal. Read more
2021CivilArizonaSettlement (unknown $)Negligent handling of attack-trained security dogs on grounds of hospital. Security personnel lacked experience in handling attack-trained K-9s.John C. Lincoln Memorial Center in Phoenix used security dogs to patrol the premises. The victim, a patient seeking treatment in the emergency room, was attacked by the K-9 during hostile confrontation with security personnel.
2021CivilIowa$50,000 settlementInherently dangerous nature of attack-trained police caninesMan sleeping on park bench attacked by police K-9 during training exercises for the dog. Incident in Cedar Rapids.
Read more
2021CivilVirginia$ 45,000 settlementInherently dangerous nature of attack-trained police K-9s.Homeless man hiding in crawlspace attacked by K-9 deployed to search an abandoned home. Incident in Charleston. Read more
2021CivilFloridaDefense verdictPolice K-9 excessive forceJury acquitted police officers in their use of a police K-9 during arrest of suspect in Fort Lauderdale. Attorney for the plaintiff called the verdict "shocking".Read more
2012CivilPennsylvania$130,000 SettlementNegligent supervision of a RottweilerThe incident happened when the 4 y.o. attended birthday party and another guest brought the Rottweiler to the party and subsequently left the Rottweiler unrestrained and unsupervised.   
2021CivilCaliforniaConfidential Settlement. Plaintiff demanded over $1 million for wrongful death. Landlord's knowledge of vicious propensities of tenant's pit bullPit bull escaped from dwelling and ran to sidewalk and had confrontation with plaintiff walking his Alaskan malamute. A scuffle ensued between the dogs. Plaintiff died a week later from a heart attack allegedly caused by the stress of the incident. Circumstantial animal behavior evidence proved that the pit bull was dog aggressive and landlord must have known about the dog's dangerous tendencies. Defense argued that plaintiff's death was due to pre-existing coronary problems and that landlord lacked actual knowledge about the dangerous propensities of the pit bull.
2003CivilFlorida$1 million settlementProperty management's knowledge and foreseeability of dangerous propensities of 4 pit bulls.Four pits mauled a Florida Power & Light Company meter reader. Severe injuries to head of victim, lost ear and part of scalp was ripped-off. The pit bulls jumped fence of property where they were kept
2016CivilCalifornia$500,000 SettlementStrict Liability; Punitive damagesWorkman on property of defendants attacked by German Shepherd. Victim sustained permanent neurological damage after falling from ladder.
2016CivilCalifornia$2 million settlementInherently dangerous nature of attack-trained police K9s.German Shepherd jumped out of patrol car and attack victim in an Oildale parking lot in Kern County, CA. Handler could not get K-9 under control. Victim sustained permanent nerve damage and spinal cord injuries.Read more
2021CivilMaine$325K settlementExcessive force by police K92019 incident in York, Maine. Victim attacked by K9 after traffic stop. Police alleged that victim was aggressor. Victim sustained multiple injuries as result of dog bites.
2022CivilCalifornia$297 verdictKnowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities by the keeper (non-owner) of the dog9-year-old girl viciously attacked by pit bull allowed to live on property of defendant/landlord. Dog owned by tenant. Property owner denied previous knowledge of dog's aggressive propensities.
2021CivilCalifornia$135K settlementExcessive force by police K937-year-old victim sleeping shed in backyard of house in residential area. Viciously attacked by German Shepherd K9 for over 1 minute. Victim was not the suspect Palo Alto police were searching for.
2003CivilWashington1.78 million settlementInherently dangerous nature of attack-trained police K9s.Victim sleeping in the backyard of private residence attacked by police K-9 and then beaten by three police officers. Victim was not the suspect police were searching for. Payment in 2009 to the victim


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