Local Woman Denies Liability, Negligence in Dog Attack Lawsuit

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An attorney representing a local woman named in a lawsuit that stems from a dog attack last fall on Benedict Hill Road has filed papers denying that she’s liable for the incident. 

The owner of one of two dogs that attacked the plaintiff also was not negligent in the Sept. 15 incident, according to an answer and special defense filed Friday on her behalf by attorney Jill Hallihan of New Haven-based Musco & Iassogna. 

Rather, Hallihan said in documents filed in state Superior Court, the plaintiff herself failed “to make reasonable and proper use of her faculties and senses at the time and place of the incident alleged in the complaint.”

The plaintiff, Allyn Holmberg, also “failed to exercise reasonable care for her safety at the time and place of the incident alleged in the complaint” and “failed to act as a reasonably prudent would have under the same or similar circumstances,” Hallihan said on behalf of the defendant, Luz Berg.

Hallihan on the same day filed a claim for jury.

According to Holmberg’s complaint, the two dogs—Sarge and Bane—attacked her “suddenly and without warning” on that Sunday last fall “while roaming and unleashed.”

The dogs, in the care of next-door neighbor Paul Saitta “attacked without provocation and began to ferociously attack, bite, maul, savage and mutilate the plaintiff, causing severe and permanent injuries,” according to the lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court by attorney Jason Gladstone of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC.

As a direct result of the attack, Holmberg sustained several injuries and has incurred medical bills, pain and suffering, “mental anguish, mental anxiety and emotional distress” and “has suffered permanent impairment of her ability to carry on life’s activities which she had enjoyed before the attack,” the lawsuit said.

According to a police report, authorities assessed more than $300 in fines against Saitta as a result of the attack, which occurred as the victim walked down her driveway to pick up newspapers. She ultimately ran toward Saitta’s door, which he opened to assist her, according to the New Canaan Police incident report. He then drove her home and she went to Tully Center in Stamford to be treated, the report said.

Saitta had his own dog, Sarge, a husky mix, put down after the attack, the incident report said. Bane, a pit bull that Saitta had been watching for Berg, went to a Wilton boarding facility and was reported in the immediate aftermath of a state-mandated quarantine to be in good health. 

The lawsuit names Berg and Herbert Kunstadt as defendants. Kunstadt as Saitta’s landlord. They’re accused of violations under a state law that holds a dog’s owner or keeper liable in the event of the animal’s attack on a person or property, and all three defendants are accused for negligence.

Kinstadt and Saitta each denied negligence in answering the complaint.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday in state Superior Court.

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