Mitchell Hoffman & Wolf partners J. Wesley Mitchell and Kenneth Hoffman recently secured a $1 million settlement for the victim of a vicious dog attack in DuPage County.
In October 2017, a woman suffered severe injuries, including nerve and tendon damage requiring multiple surgeries, following a brutal attack by an unleashed pit bull.
“This was someone just walking through her own condominium complex, carrying a couple of bags of groceries from the parking lot to her front door, when she was jumped on and mauled by this out of control dog,” explains Mitchell. “Of course, when she came to us for help, we focused immediately on how we could help her recover her medical costs and get her compensated for all the time she had to miss from work and her pain and suffering.”
However, the dog’s owner was uninsured and seemed unlikely to be able to pay anything at all towards a verdict or settlement.
“This is probably the kind of case that many lawyers would walk away from,” recalls Hoffman. “As bad as the injuries were, there just didn’t seem to be a clear path to making the recovery she needed to realize the compensation to which she was entitled under the law.”
Still, the lawyers at Mitchell Hoffman & Wolf didn’t let the matter drop. They pored over documents related to the incident, closely examining every detail. And, in their careful reading of the condominium by-laws that governed the area where the attack took place, they found something: a clause that had required the condo association to purchase an insurance policy naming all unit owners as additional insureds for injuries occurring in connection to the shared spaces of the complex. Further, the by-Laws and declarations put specific limits on the types of dogs that could be kept on the premises.
Investigation further revealed that other homeowners had previously registered complaints about this dog’s behavior to the Homeowners Association Board.
That extra work made the difference: in the face of mounting evidence that the association and its property management company had long been aware of the dangers posed by the aggressive dog (having issued 14 “courtesy letters” to the dog’s owner warning of issues and complaints), the parties came to a settlement, securing $1 million to compensate the victim for her injuries.
Mitchell notes, “We’re really proud of the work we did in this case. I think it’s an example of us living up to our motto, that ‘your recovery is always our focus.’ We focused in on getting justice for this victim – and we didn’t give up until we got it.”