Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Driver kills dog, sues owners

Soon after a car struck and killed a dog just north of Cloquet, MN the driver added insult to the injury: He filed suit against the family for the damage done to his vehicle.

Fester, a miniature pinscher, already had been through a lot in his short life. When he was 7 weeks old, he had to be resuscitated twice in 2001 after suffering multiple grand mal seizures, a reaction to vaccines he had received days earlier. He suffered brain damage that made him a slow learner, owner Nikki Munthe said.

The family named him Fester after the character from the Adams Family because “he really was not that bright,” she said. The purebred had recovered, though, and made a loving companion to her three young daughters.

On the night of Jan. 4, Fester squeezed past Munthe as she was letting in her other dog and ran out onto Morris Thomas Road.

Jeffery Ely was driving along the road at the same time and didn’t see Fester. His 1997 Honda Civic struck the 13-pound dog, killing him instantly. Now Ely is suing the Munthes for about $1,100 for damages to his car, time he had to take off from his two jobs to get the car repaired and court fees.

Pieces of the bumper were propelled into the radiator when it hit the dog, Ely said, necessitating a replacement. Ely maintains the radiator issues were not pre-existing because he didn’t have problems driving until after the accident.

The case will be heard in St. Louis County Court on Friday at 1:15 p.m.

The CBS court show “Judge Joe Brown” contacted Ely after he filed his suit, offering both parties a free trip to California if they agreed to have their case tried on television. Munthe said she and her husband considered it but decided against appearing because she didn’t want to “glamorize” what happened.

Ely said he feels sorry for the family’s loss but, as a fellow dog owner, feels strongly that they must be responsible for their pets’ actions. He spent more than $600 putting a fence in his backyard to keep his dogs contained.

“I have complete compassion for them,” Ely said. “I know how it feels. I love dogs. But once you get them, they are your responsibility.”

The Munthes have filed a $2,400 countersuit against Ely for the cost to buy Fester, the time they had to take off work for court appearances and the cost of buying a dog to replace Fester.

Duluth News-Tribune

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Writing objectively is key to being a good journaliat. Who ever wrote this using "added insult to injury" and the lines about how the poor dog had already been rescues twice shows this journalist knows nothing about objectivity or the law. The law is not concerned with the animal's previous health or living conditions. The law is concerned with who is responsible for the damage pets do (it should absolutely be the owners). If a child were to cause tons of damage but then get himself killed, people would surely emphathise with the parents but the invoice for repairs would certainly still be forthcoming. And that child MAY have even had a chance at doing something helpful in the world. A dumb dog deserves no better. Let someone who is obviosuly not affected by their love for stupid dogs write the article next time.

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