On April 18, 2016, Kathleen Wilt was bitten on the upper thigh by a large Rhodesian Ridgeback dog as she was jogging on Maple Street near Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Ms. Wilt, then 35  years old, sued the dog’s owners who conceded liability before trial and the case went to trial on the issue of damages only. The Brooklyn jury awarded pain and suffering damages in the sum of$600,000 ($400,000 past – three years, $200,000 future).

In Wilt v. Montvel-Cohen (2d Dept. 2021), the appellate court ordered a reduction of the pain and suffering award to $250,000 ($150,000 past, $100,000 future).

Here are the injury details:

  • Physical – multiple puncture wounds with displaced fat and flesh requiring ambulance transport to emergency room treatment where tetanus shot and antibiotics were given, bandaging for a month and a scar
  • Psychological – exacerbated anxiety and trust issues (there was some evidence that six weeks before this incident plaintiff was diagnosed with anxiety but never prescribed medication for it)

Plaintiff treated with a psychologist four times after the incident. The psychologist testified at trial and opined that plaintiff experienced “pretty significant post-trauma symptoms” due to the attack and was left with “chronic anxiety and fear.” Plaintiff had no other testing or treatment with any mental health providers.

Defense counsel argued that the physical injury was relatively minor with no continuing pain, only a small, faded scar and no significant treatment after the emergency room visit. The defense also contended that plaintiff’s anxiety is a pre-existing condition.