Ajia Brown of Uncasville, Conn., was 8 years old in June 2010, when he was savagely mauled by two pit bulls on the property where he and his mother came to visit Marjorie Nicholson in Hanover, Pennsylvania. The incident occurred when Ajia went outside to catch fireflies.
Aija spent eight days in the hospital and, since then the little boy has undergone 17 surgeries and 54 other medical procedures to repair the injuries from the attack by the dogs which tore off a large portion of his scalp and much of both ears. His attorney, Thomas Newell, stated that Ajia will need at least one more surgery. The little boy's face is permanently scarred.
On Monday, October 1, 2012, Common Pleas Judge Penny Blackwell approved a $508,613 settlement between Ajia Brown and his mother, and Travelers Insurance, the insurance company representing Marjorie Nicholson, the property owner. The company will also pay additional medical expenses of $8,613.84, according to phillyblurbs.com.
Ajia and his mother had just arrived at Nicholson’s home at 415 Pleasant Street, in Hanover, PA, on June 1, 2010. Chester Lavere Little, 49, Nicholson’s son, lived in a separate house on the same property and kept two Pit Bulls, Angel and Midge, in a fenced- yard.
Ajia relived that horrible attack in court on April 24, 2012, when he told Common Pleas Judge Craig T. Trebilcock at a one-day, non-jury trial that he went outside to catch fireflies about 9:00 p.m. He heard the dogs barking but Ms. Nicholson assured him they wouldn't hurt him. She then went to the other side of the property to water plants, he said.
"The dogs slipped out of the fence," Ajia testified. "They started jumping and licking me." But when one of the dogs bit him, he ran onto the porch. "They kept jumping up and I got overwhelmed," he said, so he held up his arms "like a scarecrow" to try to keep the dogs off him. But the Pit Bulls did not stop jumping and they became more aggressive. That caused Ajia to panic and try to run for safety. The dogs play then went into a full-blown attack mode. (Read more: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/pit-bulls-attack-ajia-brown-after-he-went-outside-catch-fireflies )
Ajia’s mother, Elizabeth Brown, threw her body over the little boy to stop the attack, while several neighbors did what they could to scare away the dogs. Ms. Brown suffered a number of dog bites on her body while protecting her son.
Judge Trebilcock found Chester Little guilty of harboring dangerous dogs, failing to vaccinate the dogs for rabies and failing to license them with the county.
The dangerous-dog conviction required Little, in part, to maintain a $50,000 liability insurance policy on Angel, muzzle her when in public, have a secure outdoor enclosure and submit to state inspections. The second Pit Bull, Midge, was fatally shot by responding officers minutes after the attack, but by that time Little had taken Angel inside, police said.
The judge also ordered Little to pay $1,000 in fines, saying that "hardly seems adequate," but that he was bound by the law, York Dispatch reports.
Defendant Marjorie Nicholson’s homeowners insurance carrier, Travelers, tried unsuccessfully to block the suit by requesting a ruling that it had no legal responsibility to pay for Ajia’s injuries, attorney Newell said in a release.
As part of the settlement, the homeowner’s insurance carrier ultimately agreed to pay its liability policy limit of $500,000, as well as an additional medical expense payment of $8,613.84, according tophillyblurbs.com
Attorney Newell said $308,000 remains of Ajia's settlement after paying attorney fees, court costs and outstanding liens from health insurance carriers. That money has been put in a court-approved structured settlement annuity plan that guarantees Ajia will receive $406,173.
Ajia and his mother are relieved a settlement has been reached, Newell said. They were in court on Monday when Judge Blackwell approved it. At the close of the hearing, Judge Blackwell invited Ajia to the bench to close the proceeding, according to Newell.
"He walked right up there, banged the gavel and said, 'Court is adjourned for the morning."
"He certainly is an exceptional young man," attorney Newell stated. "And he has a remarkable mother who literally put her life on the line to save him."
(Photo courtesy of www.NewellLaw.com)