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Felony case to proceed in dog attack at Murrieta Lowe's store

In February, we reported that the owner of an Akita was arrested on felony charges after the dog bit a child at a Lowe’s store in Murrieta, California. The man’s criminal defense lawyer reportedly has dog-bite cases are typically handled as civil matters. A judge presiding in the felony criminal case acknowledged in the preliminary hearing that dog attacks are often civil matters, but the judge found sufficient evidence for the criminal case to go forward.

In general, the existence of criminal charges does not necessarily bar an accident victim from seeking justice in civil court. Take for instance cases involving a drunk driver who is accused of killing an accident victim. People in San Diego likely are aware that the family of the victim may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against a drunk driver following a tragic accident, despite the likelihood that prosecutors may pursue criminal charges.

The case involves the allegations that a man brought his Akita to the garden department at the Murrieta home improvement store in December, where a child sought to great the dog. Police say that the dog attacked the small child who needed 50 stitches to close the wounds.

In the recent criminal case against the dog owner, prosecutors say that the Akita that is believed to have attacked the boy in December has had prior incidents with children. The dog lunged at a child in October, scraping the 5-year-old child in the process. The dog again showed aggression toward a child in November at a Home Depot store. In the November incident, prosecutors say that the Akita bit a child on the elbow. Authorities say that the first two children did not suffer significant injuries.

Dog owners are responsible for the acts of the animals that cause injury. A victim (or family of a victim) may seek justice in civil court.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, “Owner in Murrieta dog-bite case to stand trial,” Sarah Burge, June 6, 2014

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