Why Is This Dog Bite Lawsuit a Federal Case?

Hundegebiss 12, sepiaA woman in San Diego filed a lawsuit against the police department in 2010 after she was attacked by a police dog.

According to the suit, the plaintiff had been out drinking with friends the night of the incident. Afterwards, she went to her place of work instead of home and fell asleep on the couch in her office. She reportedly failed to disarm the security system, which then alerted the police.

When the police arrived, they say they called out a warning to anyone inside the office building, but heard no response. That’s when they let the dog loose. The animal is trained to search a property and use a “bite and hold” technique to subdue the first person they find. This dog attacked the face of the sleeping plaintiff.

Did She Win Her Civil Lawsuit?

Three years after filing her civil lawsuit, a federal trial court dismissed the case. The original court determined that the woman’s constitutional rights had not been violated, and that the dog bite did not constitute excessive force.

Now, an appeals court has reversed the decision. They say that it should be up to a jury to decide whether or not the police policy regarding the use of attack dogs should be changed.

Authorities say that these police dogs are trained to bite and hold onto the first person they see once they are let loose, and are not supposed to let go until their handler orders it. Professionals also admit that the dogs are not trained to differentiate between a sleeping woman on a couch and a masked man with a gun. Even small children could potentially be targeted by an attack dog if they are the first person a dog finds.

The plaintiff argues that her Fourth Amendment rights were violated due to excessive force on the part of the police. She also calls for the city policies to be amended to prevent further harm from coming to people who, like her, do not deserve a dog attack to the face.

If you or a loved one is injured by a dog bite, contact Bonnici Law Group today for a free consultation, and find out how a San Diego dog bite lawyer can help you.