Couple is sued for $25,000 over monkey bite

May 05, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A Pasadena woman who was bitten by a monkey outside her barbershop is suing the Glen Burnie couple who own it for $25,000.

Sherry Dinatale is asking a district judge to order Steven and Kimberly Ritterspach to reimburse her for her medical bills, time missed at work, and pain and suffering.

Lee Caplan, Dinatale's lawyer, said Steven Ritterspach was violating a county order Nov. 21 when he took the monkey outside and it bit Dinatale. He also was negligent because he did not properly restrain the animal, Caplan said.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in some editions of The Sun yesterday about a Pasadena woman who is suing a Glen Burnie couple because its monkey attacked her incorrectly characterized the woman's injury. The monkey scratched her.
The Sun regrets the errors.

"If you have no idea the animal has a dangerous propensity, no problem. But in this case, the owner obviously knew it had attacked," Caplan said. "After it attacks people on several occasions, you're on notice."

The Ritterspachs, who cared for their 2-year-old macaque monkey, Jamie, as they would have a child, said Dinatale is taking advantage of recent publicity about the monkey. Jamie was featured in news articles and television reports because the Ritterspachs have sued the county claiming that it wrongfully took custody of the monkey after it bit three people in a barroom brawl last month.

Jamie is being held at Frisky's Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary in Howard County. An Anne Arundel district judge is to decide next week whether to permit the return of the monkey to the couple or to order that it spend the rest of its life in the sanctuary.

Since they bought Jamie in 1997, the Ritterspachs have been fined $850 for violating orders from Animal Control officials to keep the monkey away from the public. Jamie bit an 8-year-old girl when he was 3 months old, a family friend in September, Dinatale in November and three others in the barroom brawl.

A preliminary hearing has been set for June 22.

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