GREENVILLE, SC (WYFF) - A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a 15-year-old who was bitten by a K-9 in the Upstate.
The lawsuit is seeking damages for medical costs, loss of income, general damages for pain, suffering, physical disfigurement, other intangible losses, loss of time from school and future loss of earning, and medical, psychological and other treatments costs for the teen.
According to Major Shea Smith with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, deputies had broken up a crowd of about 100 people at a house party on Goodrich Street just before midnight on May 24 after there was a report of shots fired.
Smith said deputies were continuing to patrol the area after the large crowd had dispersed. Deputy Matt Lovelace, who had K-9 Enzo in his car, came across a small group in the parking lot of Hollis Academy. Lovelace told the group they had 10 minutes to disp
Lovelace said when he returned to the location 10 minutes later, the group was still there. He said when he was getting out of the car and shutting the door behind him, he found that Enzo had gotten out of his cage and the dog jumped out of the car.
Smith said that Lovelace told Enzo to “heel,” which he did, but simultaneously, the crowd started running and Enzo left his down position and chased them.
Enzo caught up with one of the teens who was running and bit him on the buttocks.
Smith said Enzo had been in a heightened state of alert since arriving at the first scene through the time that he got out of the patrol car.
The teen was treated and released from the hospital.
Enzo was taken out of service until an investigation could determine how he got out.
Smith said an investigation into the incident found that a sliding door that separates the K-9 cage from the front seat had malfunctioned. He said the failure was blamed on a build-up of dog hair that prevented a pin-lock mechanism from working properly.
Enzo was returned to service after being tested and passing on all commands, Smith said.
The lawsuit accuses the Sheriff’s Office of failing to prevent the K-9 from “inflicting grave injuries” on the teen. The lawsuit also alleges that Enzo had a previously known “dangerous propensity to bite people” and that the teen was on public property or “lawfully on private property.
The lawsuit alleges that the county violated an ordinance that regulates dangerous dogs.
The case is not the first of its kind for the county. Past victims of K-9 bites have been awarded a substantial amount of money. WYFF News 4’s Tim Waller found that last year, the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund awarded William Todd Miller nearly $250,000 in paid expenses and losses for being bitten by a K-9 on March 5, 2009. That lawsuit against the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office claimed Miller sustained “massive physical and emotional trauma.”