When John H. Harless Jr. accepted a ride last November with a Finksburg couple he once lived with, he got more than a drive home.
According to a lawsuit filed July 24 in Carroll Circuit Court, he was bitten in the mouth by Bear, the couple's German shepherd.
The three-count suit seeks more than $500,000 from Alfred and Barbara Ann Jackson of Finksburg to compensate Mr. Harless for the "vicious, ferocious and wild" attack by Bear.
Mr. Harless met the Jacksons on Nov. 8 in the parking lot of the Turnaround Sportsman's Pub, a now-closed bar at Route 97 and Main Street in Westminster. According to the suit, Mr. Jackson offered to drive Mr. Harless to his home in Sykesville.
Mr. Harless got into the back seat of the car, where Bear was sitting. Mr. Harless knew Bear from the time he spent living with the Jacksons, the suit said, and Bear had never been aggressive toward Mr. Harless.
While Mr. Harless was in the back seat, Bear's previous owner approached the car. Mr. Jackson rolled down his window to talk with the previous owner. When he did that, "Bear became vicious, ferocious and wild. Bear then viciously and ferociously attacked Mr. Harless, biting and ripping part of Mr. Harless's mouth and lips," the suit said.
Mr. Jackson and his wife should have known that Bear would react that way to his former owner, the suit said. "They knew or should have known that Bear would attack and injure persons while in the presence of" his previous owner, the suit said.
As a result of the attack, Mr. Harless "has suffered and will continue to suffer in the future severe physical injuries and mental anguish," the suit said. "Mr. Harless has expended and will continue to expend in the future vast sums of money for medical care and treatment, medicines, nursing services, physical therapy and other protracted medical-related attention."
The suit did not elaborate on the extent of Mr. Harless' injuries and whether he required hospitalization, nor did it specify the amount of money he has spent on the injuries. The Jacksons could not be reached for comment last week, and Mr. Harless' attorney, Daniel J. Bartolini, was out of town and could not be reached.
Mr. Harless -- in the Carroll County Detention Center awaiting trial for several unrelated theft and assault charges stemming from a domestic dispute -- also could not be reached for comment.