The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved a $1.1 million payout to the family of 63-year-old Pamela Devitt who was mauled to death by a pack of dogs while walking in the Littlerock area on May 9, 2013 as part of her exercise routine. According to an NBC Los Angeles news report, Devitt was attacked about one-eighth of a mile from where the dogs lived. She suffered about 200 puncture wounds and died from blood loss on the way to the hospital.
The pack of dogs also chased after the driver of a pickup truck who called 911 and honked her horn to stop the dogs from attacking Devitt. Deputy District Attorney Ryan Williams said Alex Donald Jackson, the dogs’ owner, kept the animals and a shotgun to guard a drug operation at the house. He ended up being arrested for unrelated drug charges. He was eventually convicted of second-degree murder in Devitt’s death and was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.
Devitt’s husband and two children filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2015 against Los Angeles County alleging that the county’s Department of Animal Care and Control knew about the dangerous dogs, but failed to take the proper steps to impound them. The plaintiffs alleged that the county got complaints dating back to 2005 that a pack of pit bulls had escaped from Jackson’s property and were attacking people, pets and livestock in the area, but officials took no action.
Even four months before Devitt was killed, there were two complaints about dogs attacking people and horses. But the department determined that the dogs were “adequately confined,” the lawsuit states. LA County Sheriff’s deputies found eight dogs in Jackson’s home – six pit bulls and two mixed breeds.
Laws and Liability Issues
Individuals and entities can be held accountable for dog attacks that result in injuries and fatalities. Under California’s strict liability statute, dog owners can be held liable for the injuries and damages their pets cause, whether they occur in a public or private place, and whether or not the dog has had a prior history of aggression.
Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. If you have lost a loved one in a dog attack, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation as well. An experienced Los Angeles dog bite lawyer will be able to advise victims and their families about pursuing their legal rights.