A construction worker who injured his knee after jumping a fence to escape an aggressive German shepherd has won a $325,000 jury verdict in Mecklenburg County.
Edgar Plascencia-Ortiz and his coworkers were putting siding on the second floor deck of the home of Ann Oswald, said Whitney Brooks, an attorney with Olive Law Firm in Charlotte.
Oswald let her German shepherd, named Kane, out on a third floor deck. The dog ran down the stairs toward the second floor. The men ran down the stairs, and the dog chased them through the yard. Plascencia-Ortiz jumped over a backyard fence. When he landed, he tore all three ligaments in his right knee.
Plascencia-Ortiz sued Oswald, alleging common law strict liability, negligence, contributory negligence, and damages.
Oswald had brought Kane to her home two weeks prior, in part for security and protection, Brooks said. She conceded that the dog would bark, growl and bang his head up against the windows.
Plascencia-Ortiz’s co-workers testified at the trial.
“They all testified that based on their observations of Kane, he was very aggressive,” Brooks said.
Oswald contended that she instructed the construction workers to keep all the gates on her property closed so that her dog wouldn’t get loose. She said she told a worker to keep her abreast where they were working, but no one had told her they were working on the second or third floor that day, and the gate on the third floor deck was closed the night before.
The jury deliberated for 90 minutes. The issues submitted to the jury were common law strict liability, negligence, contributory negligence, and damages. Their answer was ‘yes’ to the first question of strict liability, so they went straight to the issue of damages and did not consider the issue of negligence.
The jury awarded damages for future medical expenses, pain and suffering and permanent injury
“He does not speak English, so we had to use an interpreter for his testimony, and two eyewitnesses’ testimony,” Brooks said. “The biggest challenge was overcoming the language barrier, and dealing with the issues that arise when your client speaks another language. Edgar is very happy with the verdict and hopeful that he will finally be able to get the surgery that he needs.”
Mike Kitson of Pope, Aylward, Sweeney & Stevenson in Charlotte represented Oswald. He could not be reached for comment.
VERDICT REPORT — PREMISES LIABILITY
Injuries alleged: Torn knee ligaments
Case name: Edgar Plascencia-Ortiz v. Ann Oswald
Court: Mecklenburg County Superior Court
Case No.: 17-CVS-13770
Judge: Lisa Bell
Date of verdict: Aug.7
Highest offer: $30,000
Most helpful experts: Dr. Dana Piasecki of OrthoCarolina in Charlotte (orthopedic surgeon)
Insurance Carrier: State Farm
Attorney for plaintiff: Whitney Brooks of the Olive Law Firm in Charlotte
Attorney for defendant: Mike Kitson of Pope, Aylward, Sweeney & Stevenson in Charlotte