Right before Christmas in 2007, fifteen month old Jason Riley was being watched by his aunt at her house. Jason's aunt also had a 125 pound Great Dane in the house. While she was in the kitchen getting a drink for Jason, the Great Dane attacked the toddler, biting the toddler in the face and causing lacerations to Jason's eye, a fractured orbital bone, and a torn tear duct. Jason was taken to Kosair's Children's Hospital where the cuts were repaired. However, Jason's injuries resulted in scarring and an increased risk of harm related to the fracture and tear duct injury. Jason's parents filed a lawsuit on his behalf against the aunt seeking reimbursement of medical expenses, future medical expenses and pain and suffering.
At the trial, the aunt defended the case by arguing that she had no reason to think that her dog would attack Jason. The plaintiff submitted evidence at trial that the dog was involved in a prior incident regarding biting. The verdict in the case was rendered on June 24, 2009. On the issue of liability, the jury found in favor of Jason Riley. On the issue of damages, the jury awarded Jason $21,914 for his medical expenses, $30,000 for future medical expenses, and $60,000 for pain and suffering bringing the verdict total to $111,914.
The laws in Kentucky regarding dog bites hold the owner of a dog who causes harm strictly liable for the resulting injury. Strict liability is a legal term sometimes referred to as "absolute liability," and means that the owner of the dog is legally responsible for the damages or injury their dogs causes even if that person was not at fault or negligent. Therefore, in Kentucky, it is not required that a dog owner know that their dog is dangerous, it is simply enough that the owner's dog attacks and causes damages.