A 51-year-old Glastonbury woman who was bitten in the face by a friend’s dog after she went to pet it has secured $364,094 in arbitration. The dog had bitten three other people before it attacked Kristin Granato, and was put down soon after the incident, according to Larry Adler, attorney for Granato.
Granato needed 26 stitches to her face, after the 35-pound Portuguese water dog attacked her as she entered her friend’s home to pick up her daughter from a play date, according to Adler, a partner with the East Hartford-based Adler Law Group. The incident occurred in Glastonbury in June 2014. A lawsuit was filed in Hartford Superior Court in April 2016.
Adler said Granato entered the home of Michael and Lorelei Sowa to pick up her daughter Lauren. Granato, Adler said, “went to pet the dog and the dog lunged at her face. It was one bite. She immediately ran to the bathroom bleeding a lot. She asked for a towel.” Her husband Anthony Granato ran from the outside of the house to comfort his wife, Adler said. A fire lieutenant and EMT, Anthony Granato quickly transported his wife to a Level 1 trauma facility at Hartford Hospital, Adler said.
Anthony Granato, who testified during the four-hour June 29 arbitration, told arbitrator attorney Michael Riley of Pullman & Comley that he was used to treating strangers as an EMT, but that he reacted differently to his wife.
“It was more emotional,” Adler told the Connecticut Law Tribune on Wednesday.
Kristin Granato needed stitches for both the inside and outside of the wound on her face, Adler said. Granato also had plastic surgery on her face and several injections to heal the scar, he said. Both sides had plastic surgeon experts at arbitration. Adler said both surgeons agreed Granato had a permanent scar and both agreed future procedures would help reduce scarring in the future. But, the doctors differed on whether additional surgery was needed, Adler said. “Our expert thought additional surgery was an option, but the other doctor thought no surgery would be helpful in any way.”
Even though the dog, a 7-year-old named Tillie, had bitten three other people, Adler said Riley was not made aware of that fact. “For a variety of reasons, we decided not to make that part of our case,” Adler said, adding, “We [both sides] agreed that, as part of arbitration, we’d limit the claims just to the damage in this case alone. We were not seeking punitive damages against the owners, who were good friends with the plaintiffs.”
On July 16, Riley awarded Granato $14,094 in past economic damages; $150,000 in past non-economic damages and $200,000 in future non-economic damages. The total award of $364,094 was paid to Granato via National Grange, the Sowas’ homeowners insurance policy holder.
One obstacle he faced as an attorney, Adler said, was “really painting the appropriate picture for the fact-finder [Riley] that this was something truly significant, that it had major value, and that it deeply affected my client.”
The Sowas were represented by Michael Wilson, an attorney with New Haven-based Wilson & Taylor. Wilson had not responded to a request for comment by press time.
In its court pleadings, the defense argued that it was up to the plaintiff’s side to prove that the dog had bitten Granato and caused facial scars.
William Wynne, an associate with Adler’s firm, assisted Adler on the case.