Douglas County, Georgia, where I graduated from high school and returned for a few years as a young lawyer, is known as a very conservative venue. However, Douglas Countians do not lack the ability to do the right thing when the facts call for it.
Today’s news includes a report that the State Court of Douglas County awarded $700,000 damages against the owner of a pit bull that mauled an 8 year old neighbor child. Before that incident, the owner had been cited at least 10 times over a four-month period and seriously attacked another neighbor in her driveway.
The child has had several surgeries, has an eyelid droop, endures frequent teasing in elementary school about facial scars, and is understandably afraid of dogs.
Judge W. O’Neal Dettmering Jr., awarded more than what the child’s parents initially sought, which was around $634,000. He awarded the maximum amount allowed for punitive damages $250,000. Congratulations to the family’s attorney, Mike Miller.
Having known Judge Dettmering since we were young lawyers in Douglasville, I am not surprised that in such a case he would follow the admonition of Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”
Attorneys handling facial scarring cases may consider the potential for psychological testimony about the impact of facial asymmetry, including effects on self-concept, career prospects, mate selection, etc. In working on a case of a dog bite to a child’s face a few years ago, we found quite a body of psychological literature on point.