Case details

Plaintiff claimed hip injury after neighbor’s dog escaped yard




Mediated Settlement

Result type

Not present

hip, labrum, resection, tear
On Dec. 9, 2011, plaintiff Amanda Quintanilla, 50, a registered nurse, was walking with her dog Toby, a small Bichon/Poodle mix, back to her apartment in San Clemente. At approximately 6 p.m., while passing the home of her neighbor, Clare Hendrick, a Dalmatian/Springer/Pit Bull mix named Darley escaped from Hendrick’s yard and attempted to attack Toby. Quintanilla claimed that in the process of the attack, she was knocked to the ground and sustained to her left hip. Quintanilla sued Hendrick. Quintanilla alleged that, as the owner of Darley, Hendrick was strictly liable for the incident under California Law because Hendricks knew of Darley’s dangerous propensity to attack Toby prior to the subject incident. Quintanilla also alleged that Hendricks was presumptively negligent, under negligence per se, for violating a local leash ordinance in San Clemente, which required that all dogs be leashed whenever not on their owner’s premises. Quintanilla claimed that while she was walking to her apartment, Darley somehow escaped Hendrick’s gated front yard and raced toward Toby, striking her legs in the process. She claimed that she was knocked off her feet and crashed to the ground on her left hip and that Darley intended to attack her. However, Quintanilla claimed that she had to swat the dog away until her son and another neighbor were able to step in and prevent the attack. Plaintiff’s counsel contended that Darley had expressed a malevolent desire to attack Toby for years before the subject incident and that had Hendrick’s dog actually acted upon this desire once before in January 2011, when Darley attacked and pinned Toby to the ground, allegedly wounding the chest of Quintanilla’s dog. Counsel also contended that Hendrick was aware of other aggressive behaviors Darley exhibited toward Toby prior to the subject incident. According to plaintiff’s counsel, Hendrick had a non-delegable duty as the dog’s owner to ensure that Darley was maintained on a leash at all times when the dog was outside her property. Thus, counsel asserted that it did not matter that Hendrick was outside of the country, how Darley got out of the yard, or whether the dog-sitter was negligent in her care of the dog because Hendrick was ultimately liable for any occurring when the dog was off-leash in public, in violation of the local leash ordinance. Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that Hendrick was negligent in the maintenance of her gate — which somehow allowed Darley to escape when the gate had been closed and no one was home — and in the instructions that Hendrick provided to her live-in dog sitter prior to leaving the country. Counsel further asserted that Hendrick was liable for any negligence that the dog sitter allegedly committed, as the dog sitter was acting as Hendrick’s agent at the time of the incident. Hendrick claimed that she was not liable for Quintanilla’s because there was no dog bite and because she was out of the country traveling in Europe at the time of the incident. She also claimed that the live-in dog sitter she hired to watch Darley was not present at the home during the time in which Darley had somehow got out of the yard and that no one knew how the dog had escaped at the time of the incident. Furthermore, Hendrick disputed the occurrence of the attack and contended that her live-in dog sitter was liable for any such alleged attack because Darley was supposed to be placed inside an interior gate in her backyard when no was in the home, and not in the gated front yard., Quintanilla, a registered nurse, claimed she suffered an acute labral tear of her left hip and subsequently self-treated her injury. However, she sought consultation at an urgent care facility the day after the incident. When the tear failed to resolve after 10 months of physical therapy, she ultimately underwent a left hip arthroscopy with labral resection and chondroplasty on Dec. 28, 2012. Quintanilla then underwent another year of off-and-on post-operative rehabilitation therapy, while allegedly suffering from persisting pain and limitation in her left hip. The plaintiff’s treating orthopedic surgeon determined that Quintanilla’s surgery caused her to suffer from left femoral acetabular impingement due to acetabular over-coverage. The orthopedist opined that this over-coverage was causing recurrent labral tears. As a result, on Nov. 26, 2014, Quintanilla underwent a second left hip arthroscopy in order to repair the recurrent labral tears and large overhanging acetabular rim that was causing pincer impingement. Thereafter, Quintanilla underwent another course of rehabilitative therapy. Quintanilla sought recovery of $50,000 in past medical costs (Howell amount) and $20,307.51 in lost income due to approximately 400 hours of missed work during the eight months since the dog attack, up until an unrelated fall she suffered while working at Mission Hospital in August 2012. (Quintanilla attributed all lost income after the fall at Mission Hospital to the work-related incident.) Quintanilla further sought recovery of damages for her pain and suffering. Defense counsel contended that the records from Quintanilla’s August 2012 fall at Mission Hospital indicated that Quintanilla landed on, or injured, her left hip area during the work-related fall, which took place prior to any of Quintanilla’s left hip surgeries. Based on this, defense counsel asserted that both surgeries were not causally related to the dog incident. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon opined that there was actually no labral tear and that Quintanilla’s complaints were not causally related to the labrum. Thus, the expert opined that both hip arthroscopies were unnecessary and unreasonable.
Superior Court of Orange County, Santa Ana, CA

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