Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dog owner sues Chicago Park District for electrocution of dog, electrical shock and dog bites suffered by owner

From "Today's top suit"on 01/02/08 in

Case Number:
2007L14450 Filed: December 30, 2007

Laura Mercer vs. The Chicago Park District, a municipal corporation

The Plaintiff seeks damages for the death by electrocution of her dog while walking through Grant Park in Chicago, as well as electrical shock and dog bites she herself suffered during the incident. Plaintiff Laura Mercer sues The Chicago Park District, a municipal corporation.
The Plaintiff is a resident of Austin, Tex. On February 17, 2007, she owned a roughly 9-year-old 60-pound neutered Labrador-mixed-breed dog named Smokey. She had owned the dog since 1997. The dog, according to the Plaintiff, had no history of biting or any aggressive behavior.

On February 17, 2007, the Plaintiff was in Chicago with her dog, and at approximately 5:30 p.m. took Smokey for a walk through the Grant Park area, specifically on the path across the pedestrian footpath north of the stairs at 11th Street and south of 8th Street, across from the Hilton hotel.

They walked along a wet, slushy path that had been shoveled from a recent snow fall. While walking, the Plaintiff observed Smokey start to yelp in a manner she had never heard before, and to lift up one leg and begin hopping and jumping repeatedly. Smokey began thrashing and appeared to be having a seizure.

The Plaintiff reached down to try to figure out what was wrong with her dog, and to remove him from whatever on the ground was causing his apparent discomfort. Smokey then bit the Plaintiff on her right hand, and held so firmly that she had to pry him off with her left hand.

Smokey then bit the Plaintiff repeatedly on her hands, left leg, and foot. She observed Smokey fall to the ground, writhe, and then stop moving. She got down into the slushy surface on her hands and knees near Smokey, and then felt her fingers tingle, realizing that a strong electric current was moving up her hands into her arms and up her knees into her thighs. She states that she realized that Smokey had been electrocuted.

She was able to lift her exposed flesh from the electric current but was unable to remove Smokey from the wet, electrified area. She was subsequently taken to a hospital, where she was treated for three days due to the shocks she received from the electric current, as well as for the deep animal bites she had received.

The Complaint alleges, upon information and belief, that there is a metal grate or access panel at the site where Smokey and the Plaintiff received the electric shock.

The Complaint alleges that the Defendant was negligent in failing to discover the existence of the stray electric current and its character of not being reasonably safe, in failing to establish a reasonably adequate inspection system to detect the stray electric current, and in failing to maintain or operate "such a system with due care."

As a result of the Defendant's negligence, the Plaintiff claims, she suffered bite wounds to her hands, left leg and foot, which still cause her lingering stiffness and pain in her hands, as well as loss of endurance to her hand muscles. She also underwent an inconclusive test for live or kidney damage from the electric shock.

The Plaintiff further contends that the incident caused her extreme anguish and distress, resulting in her having to restart psychotherapy and various anti-depressants originally prescribed for her due to a martial separation, as well as to begin taking anti-anxiety medications specifically prescribed due to the trauma of observing Smokey's unexpected, visibly painful death by electrocutions. The Plaintiff also states that she developed agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house) following the incident.

Plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $50,000, along with an award of costs.

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