A Bluffton woman was ordered to pay nearly $20,000 to a Hilton Head man after a jury determined that she failed to restrain her pit bull as it attacked a man outside a Bluffton apartment complex in 2016.
The verdict came on May 19 in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas after the Hilton Head man suffered injuries on Feb. 25, 2016, outside the Simmons Cay apartments on Simmonsville Road.
The plaintiff, Alfredo Cerrato-Ardon, sued Maria Rivera, the dog’s owner, in March of that year, according to Beaufort County Court documents.
The lawsuit alleged that Cerrato-Ardon arrived at the complex on the day of the incident to meet with a co-worker.
Upon his arrival, the pit bull attacked Cerrato-Ardon, causing “serious personal injuries to several areas of his body, including his right upper extremity and right lower extremity,” the lawsuit said.
The suit claimed that Rivera “failed to take all reasonable actions to prevent such attack by her dog, to reduce the extent of injuries (Cerrato-Ardon) suffered, or to warn (Cerrato-Ardon) of the dangerous condition of her dog.”
Cerrato-Ardon claimed to have suffered pain, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages as a result of the incident.
In her response to the lawsuit, Rivera denied that Cerrato-Ardon was attacked by her dog.
“Upon arrival, Mr. Cerrato-Ardon was not attacked by my dog,” she wrote in her response to the lawsuit. “My dog and I were at the construction site, (and) I was trying to get my dog restrained as Mr. Cerrato was walking too close behind me, and my dog saw him, walked up to smell him and Mr. Cerrato lifted his hand up to strike my dog, and that’s when my dog bit him on the wrist.”
Rivera also denied Cerrato-Ardon’s claim in the lawsuit that she failed to prevent the attack.
“I did take reasonable actions to prevent further injuries to Mr. Cerrato-Ardon,” Rivera wrote. “I grabbed my dog and restrained him on his leash. Mr. Cerrato-Ardon does NOT have serious injuries.”
She added later in her response that Cerrato-Ardon was walking too closely behind her and that “he strikes my dog, and (I) did all I needed to do.”
According to court records, Rivera was ordered to pay $19,200 in damages to Cerrato-Ardon.