A Madison County jury returned a verdict in favor of a UPS driver on Wednesday, awarding the plaintiff $16,000 in a suit alleging he injured his back when he was attacked by a dog while delivering a package.
Circuit Judge William Mudge presided over the three-day trial.
Plaintiff Steven Campbell was represented by Charles Armbruster and Roy Dripps of Armbruster Dripps Winterscheidt & Blotevogel in Maryville. The plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award Campbell $1.6 million for his alleged injuries.
Defendant Kevin Autenrieb was represented by Jason Kleindorfer and Michael Murphy of Freeark Harvey and Mendillo in Belleville.
Campbell filed suit in November 2013 against Autenrieb. He claims he injured his back when he attempted to prevent getting bit by a dog, named Callie, while delivering a package at the defendant’s home in July 2012.
Campbell testified on Tuesday that he delivered packages to the Autenrieb’s home, located at 3781 Raymond Road in Edwardsville, on a regular basis and knew of the dog’s presence.
Campbell alleges that at the time of the incident, he did not see or hear Callie when he pulled up to the defendant’s home, so he proceeded to get out of the truck to leave the package in the garage.
However, Campbell said that when he went to set the package down, he heard some shuffling and turned toward it.
He said he saw Callie “bolting” right at him with her mouth open. Campbell claims he injured his back while trying to prevent Callie from biting him. Campbell said Mary Autenrieb, the defendant’s wife, heard the commotion and came outside and yelled at the dog.
She apologized and offered Campbell some water and ibuprofen, which he declined.
Campbell testified that had he known of Callie’s presence, he would not have gotten out of the truck. He had been trained to honk his horn and have the homeowner come get the package when an aggressive dog is present.
That afternoon, Campbell was taken to Midwest Occupational Medicine, where he received an injection and some medication.
Campbell returned to work shortly after the incident, but he allegedly aggravated the injury when he attempted to deliver a deer stand.
The plaintiff saw Dr. David Kennedy, a neurosurgeon practicing with Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Kennedy testified in a video deposition that Campbell never fully recovered from the dog attack, so the deer stand incident worsened or aggravated his previous injury.
Kennedy said Campbell had lumbar strain to the muscles in his back, bulging in some discs and an annular fissure.
Kennedy recommended injections and physical therapy, which generally helps a patient to heal in two or three months.
Campbell said he has followed all directions and attended all approved therapy sessions, but still continues to feel pain.
Mary Autenrieb testified that Callie is a 26-pound border collie-terrier mix and was rescued by the family in May 2011. Callie was in obedience training at the time of the incident. She acknowledged that Callie had a problem with barking, but said she was not aggressive.
Kevin Autenrieb testified that Callie is his daughter’s dog and would have arrived at the house after he had left for the day. He called Callie’s excessive barking a nuisance but said he would not classify her as aggressive.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-1904