A Zion, Ill., family received a $1.125 million settlement this week on behalf of now 17-year-old Jordyn Bankston, who was savagely mauled by a bull mastiff that escaped its yard two years ago, the Sun Times reports.
Patrick A. Salvi and Jeffrey J. Kroll of the personal injury firm of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. announced on Monday that the settlement was approved by Judge Diane Winter in the Circuit Court of Lake County, the Sun Times reports.
Salvi said Kong's owner had a primary policy as well as an umbrella policy. That umbrella policy raised the settlement limit from $350,000 to one million dollars — the largest in state history.
On June 29, 2011, Bankston, 15 at the time, was living with his grandmother, Sherry Belanger, in Zion. Zion is located on Lake Michigan, between Chicago and Milwaukee. The teenager was riding his bicycle late that morning and stopped to talk to two friends in the 1000 block of Winthrop Court.
Suddenly, Kong, a 120-pound bull mastiff escaped from his nearby fenced yard and charged the boys. They all tried to run, but the dog grabbed Bankston by the arm and dragged him to the ground.
The teen weighed only about 100 pounds Salvi told the court. Bankston was completely helpless as the giant, muscular dog bit him on his thighs, buttocks, arms, a shoulder and his head.
“He thought he was going to die,” Salvi said.
Ed Miller and another neighbor said on Monday that the violent attack went on for at least 10 minutes before the neighbor found a way to free the teen, according to NBC Chicago.
"He came over and slugged the dog a couple of times," Miller said, recalling the neighbor's first actions. They attempted to free Bankston from the dog’s powerful jaws by kicking and hitting him, but the attack was unrelenting and Kong would not release his grip. Finally the neighbor, who had a lit cigarette, put it on the dog’s nose and Kong released the boy, Miller said.
Bankston was taken by ambulance to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan where he was treated for lacerations and puncture wounds on his legs, thigh, buttocks, arms, shoulder and head. The bite wound on his right arm was roughly five inches deep and required surgery. He spent a week in the hospital recovering from his injuries and went through plastic surgery for some of his injuries, according to the Sun Times report.
DOG OWNERS NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE
“This was an alarming incident that should not have happened,” Salvi said. “Dog owners need to be responsible for the animals they own, and this owner was extremely negligent on several levels."
The dog owner and defendant in this case was Eddie Diaz. According to Lake County Animal Control records, Diaz’s dog had bitten another person and another dog before this attack. Records also show there had been eight 911 calls made for animal complaints involving Diaz, who had American Family Insurance for his $1.3 million homeowner’s insurance, according to Salvi.
The family’s medical expenses reached about $100,000 and Bankston recovered quick enough to be able to go back to school in the fall, Salvi said.
Diaz, received four citations from the Zion Police Department for the dog attack. Kong was euthanized not long after the incident.
Lindsey Cramer, public relations manager for the law firm, said they usually do not see this big of a settlement or injuries as bad as this.
This is the largest published dog bite settlement in Illinois history, according to the Jury Verdict Reporter, which tracks cases. The previous record was also in Lake County. A Sears rug cleaner was bitten on the right hand while cleaning a carpet in a Deerfield home and was awarded $835,0000 in 1990.