A former FedEx Ground driver, attacked by two pit bulls that jumped into his truck as he attempted to deliver a package, has a settled his lawsuit for $160,000.
The dogs went on the attack and wanted to kill Russell Horvath, according to Horvath’s attorney, Ryan Miller.
“He reacted quickly, as most people are not getting out of that situation alive,” said Miller, a partner with Stratford’s Rosenberg, Miller, Hite & Morilla. “The dogs wanted to kill.”
Miller said Horvath backed his truck into the driveway of a Thomaston home in July 2013 when he saw one of the pit bulls snarling at him. Soon after, Miller said, the pit bull jumped onto the vehicle. “At this point, he put the package between himself and the dog to protect himself when, out of nowhere, he looks behind him and sees another pit bull.”
One dog bit Horvath in the buttocks while the other bit his right knee and forearm, Miller said. Horvath was able to get the dogs away by kicking one and slamming a sliding door on the other, said Miller, who noted the attacks lasted about two minutes. A lawsuit was filed against the dogs’ owners, siblings Jacob and Esther Radulewicz, and their father Thomas Radulewicz, in Litchfield Superior Court in July 2015. It’s believed, Miller said, that both dogs were put down.
Miller said Horvath, 58, was bleeding from the buttocks, right knee and forearm when he drove himself to the hospital immediately following the attacks. The bites were so deep, Miller said, that hospital personnel decided against giving him stitches. Instead, Miller said, they irrigated Horvath’s wounds.
The case settled Aug. 7, Miller said. Horvath will receive $160,000, which includes $120,000 in settlement funds and $40,000 in workers’ compensation, since the incident occurred when he was on the job.
Several attempts at mediation went nowhere, Miller said. The attorney said one bone of contention was the defense’s argument that a subsequent injury to Horvath was not associated with the dog bites. That, Miller said, occurred on Horvath’s first day back on the job after doctors ordered him not to work for one week.
“He went on a delivery route to a junkyard and he was injured as he tried to pick up a fairly heavy box,” Miller told the Connecticut Law Tribune Thursday. “His wounds on the right forearm began to burst open. He also felt a severe pain in his left shoulder.” A surgeon, Miller said, testified at deposition that the incident at the junkyard was directly related to the dog bites. Horvath ended up having surgery on his left shoulder, his attorney said.
“My biggest obstacle was in advocating the entire way that the shoulder injury was related to the dog bites,” Miller said.
The two sides, Miller said, were far apart for months. The attorney for the dog owners’ insurance carrier, Hanover Insurance, wanted to settle for just $10,000. Miller said his initial demand was for $250,000.
Hanover Insurance was represented by Garrett O’Keefe of Glastonbury-based Connelly & Johnson. O’Keefe did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
In court papers, the defense argued that it was up to Horvath’s lawyers to prove their case. They said the plaintiff attorneys needed to prove that Horvath was not tormenting the dog; that the defendants were liable for the injuries; and the extent of Horvath’s injuries.
Today, Miller said, his client has some permanent scarring on his forearm and arm.