Dogs chasing after beleaguered mail carriers may be a comedy cliché, but it remains a very real job hazard for couriers–the U.S. Postal Service alone sees thousands of workers attacked by dogs each year.
So, an unprovoked and severe dog bite inflicted upon a UPS driver in Mount Pleasant was certainly no laughing matter. The incident came back to bite the dog’s owners, as a Charleston County jury recently awarded $175,000 to the courier.
Catie Meehan and Michael J. Jordan of Steinberg Law Firm in Charleston and Goose Creek, respectively, represented Robert Shannon, who was bitten in the face by a 75-pound Labrador mix as he delivered a package to defendant Tara Inabinett. According to the complaint, Inabinett was gardening in her front yard when Shannon greeted her and handed her the package.
Shannon, a self-proclaimed dog lover, alleged that the dog was sitting on the front porch when it suddenly attacked him. The injury required 18 stitches across Shannon’s jawline and reconstructive surgery, and Shannon’s injuries cost him $20,000 in medical bills and approximately $5,000 in wages, his attorneys said.
Meehan said that the dog had no history of aggression and just “snapped.” She also said that its vaccinations weren’t current, which caused Shannon additional anxiety for the 14 days the dog was quarantined.
The defendants’ attorneys, Julie Craig and Joseph Weston of Mount Pleasant, did not immediately return a request for comment. But Meehan said that the defendants disputed the extent of Shannon’s damages. The defendants’ homeowner’s insurance carrier made a pretrial offer of just $50,000, less than half of the policy’s limits, and rejected an offer of judgment.
Meehan said that after the two-day trial that concluded on Sept. 14, the jury got it right. After assessing prejudgment interest of nearly $25,000, the judgment was nearly twice the available coverage.
“Our client sustained a dog bite to the face through no fault of his own while performing his job duties,” Meehan said. “He has to live with a constant reminder of the dog bite – permanent scarring to his face. We are glad that the jury recognized the permanent nature of our client’s injury and compensated him fairly.”
Because of the scarring, Shannon postponed his wedding, which was set for a month after the attack. Shannon testified that his wife would not have been pleased with the photographs, Meehan said.
“He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” Meehan said. “He’s personable and friendly … this is just an unfortunate situation.”
VERDICT REPORT — PERSONAL INJURY
Injuries alleged: Permanent disfigurement of face requiring two surgeries, lost wages, anxiety
Case name: Robert Shannon v. Nick Inabinett and Tara Inabinett
Court: Charleston County Circuit Court
Case No.: 2018-CP-10-1051
Judge: Kristi Curtis
Date of verdict: Sept. 14
Highest offer: $50,000
Most helpful experts: Dr. Thomas Hahm of Carolina Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Institute in Mount Pleasant
Insurance carrier: Allstate
Attorneys for plaintiff: Catie Meehan and Michael J. Jordan of Steinberg Law Firm in Charleston and Goose Creek, respectively
Attorneys for defendants: Julie Craig and Joseph Weston of Mount Pleasant