Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

PIPER v. UNITED STATES

August 25, 1988

JUNE D. PIPER, As Mother and Guardian of MATTHEW D. DURRAN, A Minor, PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOWARD, JR.

 GEORGE HOWARD, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Trial was held before the Court on January 11th through 13th, 1988. The parties have subsequently submitted post-trial briefs and replies. After reviewing the evidence and these submissions in light of the applicable law, the Court now makes the following decision:

 1. On May 13, 1986, June Piper, as mother and guardian of then eleven year old Matthew Durran, filed an administrative action with the United States Air Force, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq., alleging that the United States was liable for injuries sustained by Durran as a result of dog bites by a dog belonging to TSgt. Robert Williams on January 8, 1986. The claim was denied by the Air Force on April 29, 1987, and Piper, as mother and guardian of Durran, filed this lawsuit on July 1, 1987, pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act.

 2. Piper was a National Guard enlisted person, assigned to the National Guard Professional Education Center and residing at 127 Oregon Avenue in base housing at the Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB). Durran was residing with his mother at that address.

 3. Williams, who was a resident of the LRAFB at 129 Oregon Avenue, was an enlisted person in the Air Force assigned to the base. He was the owner of an Airedale dog named Arby.

 4. On the afternoon of January 8, 1986, Durran returned from school on the bus and observed the dog in his backyard, sitting at the rear patio glass door and barking at their dogs inside the house. Durran called for the dog to follow him away from the back door and towards its own house when the dog knocked him to the ground and bit him on the forehead and around the scalp. The bus driver, who observed the dog on top of Durran, sounded her horn which caused the dog to depart, administered first aid and sent for an ambulance.

 5. Durran was taken to the Air Base Hospital Emergency Room where the examination revealed an approximately 8cm curved laceration to the forehead just below the hairline along with two smaller lacerations in the crown area and two small puncture wounds in the scalp near the forehead. The lacerations were cleaned and a total of thirty-three (33) sutures were made. He was given antibiotics and returned for follow-up visits approximately eight times. The testimony and pictures reveal that Durran experienced swelling and bruising especially around his eyes.

 6. Durran suffered considerable pain during the attack and afterwards through the treatment, swelling and the first follow-up visits. He experienced some dreams about dogs afterwards, although there is conflicting testimony as to whether Durran felt these dreams were important enough to inform his mother. He has also become very cautious of strange dogs although he continues to have a good relationship with dogs he knows.

 7. Piper testified that Durran's grades took a plunge this past year and his attention span after the attack was less. However, she admitted that Durran has not only changed grades and schools this past year, but is living with his grandparents instead of her due to the uncertainty of her military status.

 8. Durran was seen by Dr. Doug Stevens on December 17, 1987, at which time he was given tests and interviewed. Dr. Stevens also spoke briefly with Piper and Durran's grandfather. Dr. Stevens found Durran to have an adjustment disorder with mixed emotions of depression and anxiety and a post-traumatic stress disorder. He felt that twenty (20) to twenty-five (25) sessions would be needed at a cost of $ 85.00 to $ 115.00 a session for counseling.

 9. Piper has not demonstrated emotional harm that will need psychological counseling as a result of the attack. Although Durran initially suffered bad dreams and has a fear of strange dogs, the evidence is simply not supportive of lasting emotional harm. The Court believes that it is significant that Durran was seen by a psychologist only less than a month before trial although Piper testified that his attention span had lessened after the attack. With the trial less than a month away, it is also clear that the focus of the parties seen by Dr. Stevens and Dr. Stevens' opinion would have been on the dog bite and its possible effects. Third, Durran's grades suffered this year when he changed grades, schools and moved in with his grandparents. The Court is convinced that these events are more closely related to Durran's anxiety and depression during the 1987-88 schoolyear than the dog bite incident which occurred mid-way the 1985-86 schoolyear. The significance of Durran's living situation is clear as Dr. Stevens testified that counseling should be started when Durran was once again living with Piper so the living situation was stable.

 10. The evidence regarding the need for plastic surgery is mixed. Dr. Deane Baldwin, who examined Durran on March 28, 1986, found two significant scars which were healing satisfactorily, but were still immature. He found the one to the side and back of the head to be a small disfigurement since it had no hair growing from it and would be permanent although it would probably decrease in size. He found the scar on the forehead to follow the natural contour of the hair line which would improve in time to leave very little disfigurement except for a pencil line sized scar with a negligible amount of disfigurement. He stated that future correction of the scars would be at the discretion of a plastic surgeon and only the first scar would probably be given attention.

 11. Dr. Robert Lehmberg examined Durran on December 3, 1986, at which time revision of the scars on his forehead was discussed. He estimated that the total cost would be approximately $ 3,800.00.

 12. Dr. Shine Shong Lin had initially seen Durran on August 18, 1986, during one of his follow-up visits at the LRAFB. His notes reveal that he recommended observation for about one and one-half years until the scars matured, then for possible revision if needed. At trial, Dr. Lin examined Durran and found the scars to be mature. He would not recommend surgery as the scars were not bad now. He further testified ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.