$15 million suit filed over mauling by dog

Neighbor at fault, says attacked woman

May 24, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Rosedale woman has filed a $15 million negligence suit against her neighbor after a dog attack that she says sent her to the hospital for 10 days and caused recurring nightmares.

Deborah Miceli alleges in Baltimore County Circuit Court papers that she was mauled by a dog owned by Josephine Fischer, who lives next door in the 7900 block of Dalrose Ave. Miceli's husband, Philip Miceli, and Walter T. Gill, an Essex contractor who says he was injured when he went to her aid, also are listed as plaintiffs in the suit.

Miceli said in an interview that she has recovered from most of her physical injuries but remains emotionally damaged.

A mother of three, Miceli said she is seeing a therapist, has nightmares about dogs and is reluctant to leave her house. After the attack she gave her mixed-breed dog to a nephew.

"I'm afraid to go anywhere, because I'm afraid of seeing a dog where ever I go," said Miceli, 38. "I hear a dog bark and I panic."

Fischer declined to comment on the suit yesterday.

According to the suit, Miceli was watching three neighborhood children as part of a day care operation at her home when the attack occurred June 19.

Miceli was sitting at her picnic table with the children about 3 p.m. when one of the children tossed a soccer ball over her chain-link fence and into Fischer's yard. Before Miceli could stop him, William Blackwell, a 7-year-old, "darted" over the 3-foot fence to retrieve the ball, the suit says.

"Miceli shouted for the boy to get back in her yard. As this was going on, Fischer allowed her snarling dog out of her house and into the back yard. The snarling dog then bolted toward William as Miceli rushed toward him from the other direction," the suit says.

The boy "lay helpless and horrified face-down on the ground" as the dog, identified as a mixed-breed terrier, tore at his "back, shoulders and armpits," according to the suit.

Miceli climbed over the fence to rescue the boy and the dog turned on her, "biting her all over her body," according to the suit.

Miceli's screams attracted Gill, who was driving past in his truck. Gill climbed the fence, pried Miceli free and was bitten on the arm, according to the suit.

Paramedics took Miceli to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where she was treated for "numerous bites about her body, arms, legs and neck," according to a police report.

Stephen L. Freedman, Miceli's lawyer, said she spent 10 days at Bayview and required plastic surgery to repair scars from the bite marks on her neck and face. She has given up her day care operation, he said.

He said the dog was destroyed by Baltimore County animal control officers.

The police report said that William Blackwell also was treated at Bayview but that Gill declined hospital treatment.

Freedman said the boy's injuries were not as serious as Miceli's. Blackwell's parents have retained a lawyer but have not filed suit, he added.

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