McMinn Files $1M Lawsuit for Woman Injured in Most Recent Attack by Vicious Dogs
Update: December 2, 2019
A local dog owner tied to a history of attacks has been allowed to adopt again. Austin community members and Lakeway Animal Protection shared concerns that dangerous dogs may be still be in the hands of Patricia Stanford.
Earlier this year, our client Erica Curtis suffered severe injuries she sustained in a dog attack by one of Patricia Stanford’s dogs. Curtis is still undergoing surgery and treatment.
I think she’ll always have a permanent and lifelong injury and lasting injury to her hand” – Jason McMinn
In a court order, the dogs that attacked were banned from the city of Lakeway and required to be housed in Midland, Texas with Stanford’s sister. But officials in the area say that the address provided doesn’t exist. Neighbors said they have seen the dogs outside Stanford’s home as recently one week ago.
On September 6, one of the dogs was found miles from Stanford’s home and taken in by Austin Animal Shelter. The shelter later returned the dog to Stanford, saying that the Lakeway ban was out of its’ jurisdiction.
On September 13, Lakeway police records show that one of the dogs was loose and tried to attack a neighbor’s puppy.
Now records show that Stanford has adopted another dog from Austin Pets Alive! animal shelter.
Lakeway Animal Control Officer Andrea Greig said in an email to attorney, Justin McMinn, that Austin Pets Alive! adopted out another dog to Patricia Stanford.
I contacted them and they told me she adopted a dog that does attack little dogs. I feel she purposely got this dog because it attacks. I just can’t believe Austin Pets Alive as a rescue does not do even, Google lookups. To say I am livid is an understatement. – Andrea Greig
Read more about how the dog owner behind multiple dog attacks was allowed to adopt another dog with an aggressive past. Watch video coverage of this case at KXAN.com.
Original Publication: May 31, 2019
McMinn Law Firm recently filed a suit in which our client was viciously attacked by two dogs in a park. Our client, Erica Curtis, was left bloodied and with serious injuries to her hands requiring surgery.
After the incident, Erica Curtis was shocked to learn that she was not the only person to have been injured by these same dogs – still walking on trails without a leash.
In late April 2019, Erica Curtis was walking her 60-lb dog on a trail behind a church near Commons Ford Road and Cuernavaca Drive. While walking along the trail, two dogs without leashes or collars approached her and her dog, Boomskie.
Dog Bite Lawyer: News Coverage of McMinn Law Firm Case
- Following Cuernavaca attack, dogs to be rehomed | June 14, 2019 | Statesman
- Lakeway Dog Owner Faces Charges, Lawsuit | June 13, 2019 | Statesman
- Austin Woman Sues Over Dog Attack | May 31, 2019 | News Radio KLBJ
- Dogs tied to multiple attacks still not deemed dangerous by authorities | May 31, 2019 | KXAN News
- Woman files lawsuit after pair of pit bulls attacked her, her dog while walking Austin trail | May 30, 2019 | KVUE News
Initially Erica did not see the owner of the dogs, Patricia Stanford. Erica said that the incident went on for 20 minutes or more. During that time, Erica’s thumb was ripped off, and her ring finger sustained an injury requiring surgery. Her dog was mauled by the dogs. After about 20 minutes of struggling to protect herself, a witness passing by called 9-1-1. Within 15 minutes, emergency crews arrived and transported Erica to the hospital.
Photo: Boomskie the dog has had to undergo three separate surgeries after the attack. It wasn’t until a month later that vets believed Boomskie would survive the attack.
What Erica learned after the dogs attacked was that several other people had been attacked by the same dogs. In one attack, a pit bull escaped from Stanford’s front yard and attacked a neighbor’s dog. In another attack at a dog park, one of the pit bulls attacked a dog and a person in Bee Cave.
She spoke about her experience to KVUE News and KXAN News in an effort to prevent more dog attacks like hers.
McMinn Law Firm filed a suit against the owner for damages caused to Erica Curtis. Irresponsible dog owners who have aggressive dogs need to be held accountable. Boomskie the dog is approximately 60 lbs – there are many children who are far smaller that visit parks. In this case a family pet was injured, however aggressive dogs could have seriously injured or killed a child.
Melissa Melot, a previous victim of the dogs said: “It just baffles me that irresponsible dog owners that have aggressive dogs and they still go out in public,” said Melot.
Melot and her dog were attacked at a Bee Cave dog park in 2018. During the incident, a man attempted to intervene. He was bitten by one of the dogs but did not file charges. Melot’s dog suffered a punctured eardrum and wounds to its’ head and neck.
At that time Stanford’s dogs were taken by Animal Control for 10 days.
In 2016 Stanford received a citation from Lakeway Police for having dogs at large or unleashed.
In 2014, two other bite injuries were reported involving Stanford’s dogs. Both were investigated by Lakeway Police Department. A dog of a tenant in Stanford’s home was attacked. In a separate incident, one of the dogs got loose in the neighborhood, and attacked another dog.
Attacked by a Dog? Call a lawyer today.
You may have a legal right to pursue compensation.
Dogs have the potential to act out of instinct and attack people without warning.
If you have been the victim of a dog attack, don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney.
Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn fight for the right of dog bite victims to pursue justice. We fight to get the victims of dog bites compensation they deserve – and the assurance that something like this will never happen again.
Jason McMinn Wins Jury Trial Verdict for Man Attacked in His Own Backyard
In this photo, Jason McMinn speaks to KVUE News after securing a huge jury verdict win in Williamson County dog bite case. The jury awarded a significant award, as well as $10k in punitive damages. Read on to learn more about this Williamson County case.
Dog Attack: Jason McMinn Secures Newsworthy Jury Verdict Win For Client
Representing a serious dog bite victim client, attorney Jason McMinn convinced members of the jury to issue a verdict finding defendants to be guilty of negligence and gross negligence.
The verdict awarded $110,000, 10K of which are purely punitive damages.
Dog Bite Case in Texas: How to File
If you were bitten by a dog, the situation may not be as clear as other incidents.
- Who is at fault? The dog owner? A property owner?
- Is there any way to recover compensation after a dog bite?
- Is there anything Austin Animal Control can do?
In many cases a dog’s owner can be liable for injury the dog may cause. If a dog owner has knowledge that their dog has acted aggressively in the past.
What about dog bites that occur in public spaces? You may have noticed that some outdoor bars and restaurants do not allow dogs on their property. Lawsuits have been filed against restaurant owners after a patron’s dog bit another customer. Since there is likely no way for a bar or restaurant owner to know whether a dog poses a threat, there could be some difficulty demonstrating liability of the restaurant owner.
There are three important factors that come to play in recovering medical costs after a dog attack. A dog bite claim has the greatest chance if… 1) There is an insurance policy that will cover the claim, 2) Severity of damages required medical attention, and 3) Ability to prove liability in a dog bite claim.
- If the animal’s owner has homeowners insurance, it may pay for medical expenses under a personal injury claim. For instance, if a dog escapes from a house and bites an individual that could be a situation in which a homeowners insurance policy will cover a dog bite.
- When considering scarring, permanent damage and the emotional trauma associated with dog bites, an attorney who has won verdicts awarding damages to animal attack victims is a strong choice to help fight to get the full compensation a dog bite victim is entitled to under the law. If the injuries are to a small child, you must consider the possibility that they might need additional operations later in life to reduce scarring.
- Liability in a dog bite claim can depend largely on whether the owner knew if the dog was aggressive or had the tendency to bite. In Texas there is what is often called the “one bite rule.”
In Travis and Williamson County dogs are required to be on a leash in public areas except when they are in leash free parks.
Austin Animal Services, or the Austin Animal Center are part of the largest No Kill community in the nation. They help to rehome pets, prevent animal abuse, and they work closely with law enforcement to contain or help aggressive animals that threaten the community.
Dangerous, vicious, and aggressive dogs should be reported by calling 9-1-1. Owners of dangerous dogs are required to buy $100,000 in liability insurance. After registration as dangerous, the dog must wear a large tag stating they are dangerous.
More info on personal injury law:
- Defining “negligence” in a Personal Injury Case
- The Stowers Dute: Defined
- How to Get Started on a Personal Injury Case
This does not mean that the dog and its owner get the “first bite” free. What it means is that the case for liability must be proven to the courts. To receive compensation for the injury, the owner had to know the dog had bitten before or had tried to bite; therefore, the owner had knowledge of the dog’s behavior. (Restatement of Torts, Section 509)
The better case an attorney can make showing the owner had previous knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite, the more sympathy the court and jury might give the victim. The argument for the court is the degree in which the dog’s owner was negligent.
A loved one who was not actually bitten by a dog, but witnesses the attack, may also claim damages from mental anguish. It is demoralizing to watch a loved one ravaged by an aggressive dog or a pack of dogs.In order to claim an injury for mental anguish, the person must be closely related to the victim, possibly a parent or sibling. Also the injuries to the victim of the dog attack must be so severe as to cause major harm or result in the death of the victim.
There are dogs that bite, and then there are dogs that attack and maul their victims.
No matter how sweet and friendly a dog may be, they are all capable of biting. The bite reflex is just a reaction to something that either scared or startled them into aggression. Older dogs can be ailing or hard of hearing which can make them jumpy. Some dogs are only playing and nip or bite too hard, not realizing humans are fragile. Also, the more dogs in a group, the more likely they will exhibit the “fight or flight” instinct. Given that dogs are in the canine family, their response to threats, danger or over excitement is all too often: “fight.”
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there are 4.5 million people bitten by dogs in America every year. Of those, one half are children between the ages of 5 to 9. One in five dog bites is serious enough to require medical care. In 2012, 27,000 people needed reconstructive surgery to repair damage caused by dog bites.
What to Do If a Dog Bites
- Seek medical attention as soon as the dog bite occurs.
- Contact the police or animal control. Dogs that bite are required, under Texas law, to be quarantined for 10-days from the time of the bite. The quarantine might be allowed to happen at the owner’s home, a licensed dog care facility, or veterinarian’s office.
- Contact an attorney who can discuss the case and explain your options.
There are several different thresholds that a victim of a dog bite must prove to get relief by the courts.
The standard for determining if a dog owner is “negligent,” and, therefore, liable for the actions of their dog was established by the Texas courts, Allen ex rel, B.A. v Albin, 97 S.W. 3d 655, 665 (Tex. App.-Waco 202, no pet). “To recover on a negligent handling claim, a plaintiff must prove:
- The defendant owned or possessed an animal;
- The defendant owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent the animal from injuring others;
- The defendant breached that duty; and
- The defendant’s breach proximately caused plaintiff’s injury.
Additionally, a landlord or landowner can also be found liable for the damages associated with a dog bite for permitting a dangerous dog to remain on their property. The Court of Appeals of Texas said the “landlord is liable for injuries caused by the attack of a tenant’s dog only where the landlord had actual knowledge of the dangerous propensities of the dog and where the landlord nevertheless leased the premises to the dog’s owner or, by the terms of the lease, had the power to control the harboring of a dog by the tenant and neglected to exercise that power.” (Casemaker Baker v. Pennoak Properties, Ltd., 874 S.W.2d 274, 277 (Tex. Ct. App. 1994).
Also, the courts have said that any violation in state, county or local municipal codes regarding animal control laws can be proof of the owner’s liability for the injuries caused by their dog. These laws and codes have been written for the purpose of allowing people to keep pets while protecting the rights of others. The dog’s owner has a “duty” to control the animal, and violating the law can be used as evidence that the owner is irresponsible and negligent.
In Texas, the dog’s owner may also have a defense for the dog bite under a legal theory called “comparative negligence.” This would allow the dog’s owner to argue they were only responsible for a portion of the injury and that the injured person was responsibility for the other part or their role in the injury. For example, if a child is holding a ham sandwich while petting a dog and the dog bites the child’s hand; the argument could be made that the dog is 75% to blame, and the child with the meaty treat is 25% at fault. These cases require skilled legal experience to properly protect their client’s interests and make sure the victim is not unduly blamed.
If you or a loved one was injured by a dog in the Austin area, you need an attorney experienced in negotiating with insurance companies to get the compensation you deserve. If the insurance company refused to make a legitimate offer and you desire to seek relief with the court, you will definitely need the experience of an aggressive attorney.