Elderly man is attacked by dog while walking in front of defendant's house. PTSD causation is disputed.
- Case Name: Ronald Rivkin v. Lynn Benjamin
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / 19STCV31130
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, November 04, 2021
- Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, September 03, 2019
- Type of Case: Dog Bite
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Rafael Ongkeko
Plaintiffs: Ronald Rivkin, 73
Defendants: Lynn Benjamin
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $16,500
- Net Verdict or Award: $16,500
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 hours
- Jury Polls: 12-0 economic damages, 9-3 non-economic damages
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant will file a post trial motion for costs of roughly $15,000.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Vaziri Law Group by Matthew Taylor and Aaron Miller, Los Angeles.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Hosp, Gilbert & Bergsten by Robert T. Bergsten, Pasadena.
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Jay Shapira, M.D., cardiology, Los Angeles. (Treating physician.)
Sean Pakdaman, Ph.D., psychology, Encino. (Treating psychologist.)
Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
On September 9, 2017 plaintiff, who was 69 years old at the time, was attacked and bitten by a Doberman Pinscher owned by defendant as he walked by defendant's home.
Plaintiff had recently suffered a stroke and was walking outdoors as part of his rehabilitation. Plaintiff also had hypertension and had undergone three prior heart surgeries. As plaintiff passed by defendant's home, defendant's unleashed dog rushed at him, snarled, barked and bit. The Doberman bit into plaintiff's buttocks and refused to let go until defendant pulled the dog off of plaintiff.
After the bite, plaintiff treated with his internist, Dr. Jay Shapira, who followed plaintiff's recovery. No surgical intervention was required, and plaintiff's physical injuries mended with home care and rest. Plaintiff was plagued by nightmares, stress, anxiety and depression caused by the attack. Plaintiff was in constant fear of having another stroke or cardiac attack, and continues to be so. Plaintiff was diagnosed with PTSD and treated for the condition with Dr. Sean Pakdaman, psychologist.
That the dog bite incident caused PTSD for plaintiff. Dr. Pakdaman testified at trial that plaintiff's PTSD would never resolve and would plague plaintiff for his remaining years, requiring future psychological counseling.
Defendant admitted liability for the incident. Defendant admitted that plaintiff's physical injuries were caused by the attack, but that they resolved shortly after the attack with no residuals. Defendant also alleged that plaintiff's psychological problems were real and debilitating but that they were caused by other life events that preceded and followed the dog attack.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Dog bite to right buttocks.
PTSD and other psychological problems caused or aggravated by the dog attack.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $14,136
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Undefined for future psychological counseling.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: 100,000.
- Plaintiff Demand during Trial: 80,000
- Defendant §998 Offer: 50,000.