Meenu Sasser (Melanie Bell)
A retired Delray Beach attorney who was mauled by his neighbor’s dogs obtained a final judgment of more than $7.6 million.
But the dogs’ owners have disappeared, and there is no homeowner insurance policy to cover the award.
Jerry K. Kern, 77, now lives in constant pain after suffering a spine injury during the attack Dec. 8, 2011.
Palm Beach Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser entered final judgment April 1, just five days after a one-day trial on damages only when the jury returned its verdict after hearing testimony from Kern’s orthopedist.
Dr. Eric T. Shapiro of Boca Raton testified Kern’s disc herniation was caused by the attack, said Kern’s attorney, Paul M. Adams of Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley in Palm Beach Gardens.
Sasser entered a default judgment a year ago finding neighbors Laurie and Bruce Cossar were liable.
Adams said Kern was on his property carrying a 3-foot-square panel of plywood to a trash heap when Laurie Cossar pulled up to her driveway gate across the street.
Cossar electronically opened her gate. Three of four large dogs on her property—with weights ranging from 50 to 80 pounds—bolted across the street and attacked Kern.
Kern tried to use the plywood to shield himself but was bitten in the legs. Cossar retrieved her dogs and a bloodied Kern walked into his house, where he was met by his wife of over 50 years marriage.
An MRI revealed massive spinal herniation. On Jan. 19, 2012, Dr. Job Dorcil performed surgery at Bethesda Memorial Hospital, fusing three vertebra. Kern also underwent a rhizotomy in hopes of relieving pain.
“Even after surgery, he’s continued to have and will require significant medication, therapy and injections,” Adams said.
The Cossars initially retained an attorney, but no response was filed to the complaint, Adams said.
“The defendants proceeded to pack up and essentially left their home in the middle of the night,” he said.
Palm Beach County animal control officers were unable to enter the property immediately after the incident, Adams added. The officers posted a notice on the gate. Adams said the Cossars allowed inspection of the dogs, but he didn’t know what became of them.
Kern plans to retain an attorney specializing in collections, Adams said. It will be up to new attorneys to pursue recovery. Adams said he believes the Cossars have properties in Canada and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
A motion for Adams’ attorney fees and costs is set to be heard April 22.