Jury awards $10,000 to plaintiff in jumping dog suit

Amelia Flood May 7, 2010, 5:43am

After nearly eight hours of deliberations, a jury awarded a Granite City woman $10,000 for the emotional distress she suffered five years ago when a neighbor's dog chased her sister and the two women collided.

The jury began its deliberations in plaintiff Mildred Aldridge's case before noon Thursday. They reached their verdict at 7:40 p.m.

They did not award Aldridge any damages for her past medical expenses, loss of a normal life or pain.

Aldridge had sued the dog's owner, Donna Eberlin, for two counts of negligence and violation of the state's Animal Control Act.

During closing arguments Thursday, Aldridge's attorney Michael Bilbrey asked the jury to award more than $27,000 in medical expenses, $25,000 for her pain and suffering and $15,000 for the emotional distress.

Aldridge sued Eberlin for an incident that took place in November 2005.

On Nov. 6, 2005, Aldridge claimed Eberlin's dog jumped her fence and chased Aldridge's sister, Daisy Welch, onto Aldridge's property.

Although there was some dispute at trial about what occurred next, it appears from testimony and court documents that Welch then collided with her sister and both fell in Aldridge's kitchen.

Aldridge claimed she suffered a lower spinal compression fracture related to the incident, and that the event aggravated her multiple sclerosis.

However, other sources allege Aldridge fell two days later and went to the emergency room.

Testimony in the case indicated that there were differences in both witness recollections and the medical histories.

Defense experts testified that it was impossible to tell whether the fall related to the dog chase, or if the fall on Nov. 8 caused the compression fracture because Aldridge already had an underlying condition.

Aldridge had also suffered compression fractures prior to the 2005 incident, according to testimony in the case.

The trial began Monday, May 3, with Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis presiding.

The case was one of those transferred to Callis' docket in December from Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack,who will retire this year.

Bilbrey and J.R. Stever represent Aldridge.

Victor Avellino represents Eberlin.

The case is Madison case number 06-L-860.

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