Jury Verdict Stands in Gorman v. Pierce County
On January 9, 2014, the Washington Supreme Court rejected Pierce County’s request for review of Gorman v. Pierce County.
Our client, Sue Gorman, filed suit after she suffered permanent injuries in a life-threatening attack by two pit bulls. Sue was asleep in her bed when the pit bulls entered her bedroom and began biting her arms, hands, face, and chest. A Jack Russell terrier that was on Sue’s bed was killed in the attack, which lasted 30 minutes.
Sue claimed that Pierce County was negligent for not enforcing its animal control laws. There had been 14 complaints to Pierce County about the owners of one of the pit bulls because the owner did not keep dogs confined to her property. Her pit bull had threatened others, including children, who were using the public street or who were on their own property.
Although animal control officers and Pierce County sheriffs had responded to some of the prior complaints, the pit bull was never declared dangerous and the owners were never sanctioned. Pierce County did not take any action to confiscate the pit bull even after Sue complained twice. This pit bull and another pit bull left their property and entered Sue’s home through a doggie door on the morning of the attack.
Mike McKasy and Shelly Speir tried the case before a jury in July 2011. The jury agreed that Pierce County and the dog owners were at fault, awarding Sue $2.2 million for her injuries.
But after the jury trial, Pierce County filed an appeal with Division 2 of the Court of Appeals, arguing that the trial court had given incorrect jury instructions and applied the wrong law. Shelly Speir responded, and the Court of Appeals rejected Pierce County’s arguments. Our jury instructions, which the Court found to be correct, were published in Washington Practice, a reference book for Washington attorneys.
After the Court of Appeals concluded its review, Pierce County requested that the Washington Supreme Court take a second look at the case. Shelly Speir again submitted briefing to respond to Pierce County’s arguments. On January 9, 2014, the Washington Supreme Court issued an order denying review, making the Court of Appeals decision final.
We are happy that our client can finally bring her case to a close. Congratulations, Sue!