The victim’s family lived on the same block as the dog owner. She was a small woman who owned three Akitas. Despite being outweighed and out-muscled by these dogs, she chose to walk all three of them at the same time, using three leashes in one hand. The leash was one strap to which three other straps were attached. Each of those three straps was latched to the collar of one fully-grown Akita.
On the day of the accident, the boy’s mother pulled into the family’s driveway after a trip to the supermarket. The mother took the victim out of his car seat and set him down on the pavement, where he stood for a moment as she reached for a bag of groceries. The neighbor happened to be walking past the driveway at the same time, her three Akitas at the end of the leash described above. When the dogs saw the boy, one of them decided to take him away from his mother. It bounded to him, leading the other two dogs which, in turn, were pulling the neighbor behind them.
The lead dog picked up the child by his head, its teeth penetrating the boy’s forehead, eye socket and cheek. The dogs then began running away with the boy. The neighbor held onto the leash and yelled at the dogs to stop, but could not control them and in fact was dragged away by them. At that point, the mother realized what was happening, and began screaming and chasing the dogs.
Catching up with them on another neighbor’s lawn, the mother wrestled her toddler son from the mouth of the dog that was holding it, and started running home. The dogs chased her, dragging the neighbor behind them. When the mother got into her garage, they caught up to her and knocked her down. She covered her boy with her body as the dogs clawed and bit her on her back.
The child’s father had been showering in an upstairs bathroom all this while. When he turned off the water and heard the screaming, he ran downstairs, grabbed a shovel and swung it at the dogs, scaring them off. Incredibly, the neighbor was still holding their leashes.
The boy’s injuries appeared substantial at first. He regressed in his mental development, and had to fight off an infection caused by the bite wounds. The attack left him with some permanent deformity in his eyes. Nevertheless, he recovered very well and is quite normal at this time, and an excellent student in school. Mr. Phillips set up an annuity for him that will make increasing monthly payments to him throughout his life. At the court hearing to confirm the settlement, the judge said to the parents, “Do you realize that when your son is in his 60s he will be receiving only $20,000 per year?” To which Mr. Phillips replied, “Excuse me, your honor, but our paperwork actually says $20,000 per month.”
The mother also received compensation for physical injuries and emotional distress.