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New Jersey Verdicts

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Dog attack resulted in disc damage, plaintiff alleged

Amount:

$850,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

New Jersey

Venue:

Morris County

Court:

Morris County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

back-fusion, lumbar; back-herniated disc (herniated disc at L3-4), lumbar (herniated disc at L3-4); back-herniated disc (herniated disc at L4-5), lumbar (herniated disc at L4-5); back-herniated disc (herniated disc at L5-S1), lumbar (herniated disc at L5-S1); other-sutures; other-physical therapy; other-epidural injections; epidermis-bite mark; face/nose-chin; face/nose-facial laceration; face/nose-scar and/or disfigurement, face; neurological-radiculopathy; surgeries/treatment-laminectomy (laminectomy, lumbar)

Case Type:

Animals - Dog Bite, Animal Control

Case Name:

Jennifer Reid and Jeffrey Reid v. Kevin Burdorf and the Estate of Kim Burdorf, No. MRS-L-2847-13

Date:

February 21, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Jeffrey Reid (Male), 

Jennifer Reid (Female, 39 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Andrew A. Fraser; Laddey, Clark & Ryan, LLP; Sparta Township, NJ, for Jeffrey Reid, Jennifer Reid ■ William B. Thayer; Laddey, Clark & Ryan, LLP; Sparta, NJ, for Jeffrey Reid, Jennifer Reid

Plaintiff Expert(s):

David Basch; M.D.; Orthopedic Surgery; Sparta, NJ called by: Andrew A. Fraser ■ Richard Snellings; M.D.; Radiology; Sparta, NJ called by: Andrew A. Fraser

Defendant(s):

Kevin Burdorf, 

Estate of Kim Burdorf

Defense Attorney(s):

Gary Ahladianakis; Kent/McBride, P.C.; Middletown, NJ, for Kevin Burdorf, Estate of Kim Burdorf

Defendant Expert(s):

Francis DeLuca; Orthopedic Surgery; Warren, NJ called by: Gary Ahladianakis

Insurer(s):

Tower Group Cos. for both defendants

Facts:

On July 15, 2012, plaintiff Jennifer Reid, 39, an auditor, was bitten by a dog while at the house of friends in Denville. Reid's friends had asked her to watch the dog, a German Shepherd/Chow Chow mix. As she stood up from a chair, the dog jumped, bit Reid's face, and knocked her back into the chair. The dog jumped on top of Reid, who escaped after hitting the dog repeatedly. She claimed injuries to her face and back. Reid sued dog-owner Kevin Burdorf and the estate of his late wife, Kim Burdorf. She alleged violation of New Jersey's Dog Bite Statute and brought claims under a theory of premises liability. Reid asserted that the owners were responsible for the animal's attack. Liability was conceded. The suit went to trial in June 2016, and resulted in a $100,000 damages award as compensation for Reid's facial injury only. Reid successfully moved for a re-trial to determine damages related to claimed lumbar spine injuries, which a jury had previously found to have not been related to the dog attack.

Injury:

Reid presented to the emergency room at Saint Clare's Hospital, where she was given initial treatment and released. She had a chin laceration about 3 inches long, which required sutures at the ER. Several months later, Reid was diagnosed with herniations at lumbar intervertebral discs L4-5 and L5-S1, and with radiculopathy radiating from vertebra L5 into her lower extremities. Reid required cosmetic surgery to reduce the appearance of scarring of her chin. She initially treated her lumbar-spine injuries with physical therapy and epidural injections of a steroid-based painkiller. When this was deemed ineffective, she underwent a two-level lumbar laminectomy with fusion. She subsequently developed adjacent disc disease and post-laminectomy syndrome, resulting in a L3-4 herniation. These conditions were treated with additional physical therapy and pain management care. Reid continues to complain of chronic low-back pain. She has difficulty with heavy lifting or bending. She also complains that she is self-conscious about the appearance of her facial scar. Reid's husband, Jeffrey Reid, made a claim for loss of consortium. Reid's mother-in-law testified at trial regarding the impact of Reid's injuries on her daily life. She said that Reid cannot lift her young children and is often exhausted. Counsel for the defense disputed causation with regard to Reid's low-back conditions, arguing that the disc issues and radiculopathy were unrelated to the dog attack.

Result:

The jury found that Reid's back injuries were causally related to the incident. Reid was awarded $750,000 in damages while her husband received $100,000 in damages for his loss of consortium claim.

Jeffrey Reid:

$100,000 Personal Injury: Past Loss Of Consortium

Jennifer Reid:

$750,000 Personal Injury: Past Pain And Suffering

Trial Information:

Judge:

David H. Ironson

Trial Length:

1  weeks

Trial Deliberations:

105  minutes

Jury Vote:

5 to 1 on proximate cause and per quod award, unanimous on back injury award

Jury Composition:

five male/ one female

Post Trial:

Defense counsel's appeal is pending.

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel.