Jury awards woman $75,499 for dog bite in Tenino

Staff writerMay 17, 2013 

A Thurston County jury has awarded a local woman more than $75,000 in damages resulting from a May 2009 attack by a neighbor’s Rottweiler mix.

The dog bit the woman on the calf while she was in the driveway of her former High Valley Lane home in Tenino. After the incident, she filed a civil suit in Thurston County Superior Court seeking damages for medical expenses, “pain, inconvenience, emotional distress, scarring and other general damages.”

After a weeklong trial, the jury reached its verdict on Thursday, voting 10-2 to award Linda Astorga $25,499 for past and future economic damages, and $50,000 for “noneconomic damages,” according to a special verdict form filed in Thurston County Superior Court.

Astorga, 34, was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital on May 18, 2009, and received four staples and 10 or 11 sutures to her calf after she was bitten, according to a Thurston County Animal Services report.

The dog that bit Astorga, Joey, was quarantined for 10 days then returned to its owners, defendants Justin and Tammy Hansen, who were represented in court by attorney Anthony Vidlak. Vidlak, who represented the Hansens’ insurer, said the insurer is liable for the jury’s award. Vidlak declined to comment further.

Since the dog bite incident, Astorga has moved out of her Tenino home, her attorney, Marie Docter of Tacoma, said Friday. Docter said the Hansens have four dogs that were “running loose in the neighborhood” on the afternoon when Astorga was bitten four years ago. Docter said her client’s lawsuit “was really about dog owners being responsible and not letting this happen to someone else.”

On the day Astorga was bitten, she was out walking in the neighborhood for exercise when the Hansens’ four dogs “chased her, knocked her to the ground and Joey got a hold of the back of her leg,” Docter said. “She had a pretty bad injury. She has some permanent scarring to her leg, and is also dealing with PTSD and some ongoing fear.”

Since Astorga filed her lawsuit, the Hansens have put up a fence in their yard that prevents their dogs from running loose, Docter said.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445

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