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Pet Duck Attack Leads to $275K Injury Lawsuit

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By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on April 23, 2014 2:40 PM

You've heard of dog attacks, but what about a pet duck attack? A woman from Washington claims that she suffered injuries after a pet duck ambushed her for no apparent reason.

Cynthia Ruddell, 62, was on her mother's property in Oregon when a neighbor's duck allegedly attacked her without provocation, according to Reuters. She claims to have suffered a broken wrist and sprained elbow and shoulder.

Ruddell is claiming that the duck's owner failed to control her pet.

Failure to Warn

Although Oregon doesn't have specific laws relating to injuries caused by ducks, the Oregon Department of Agriculture does allow private ownership of non-traditional pets.

When there aren't specific laws pertaining to injuries caused by certain animals, lawsuits for animal injuries can typically be brought against the owner under negligence laws. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that:

  • The defendant had a duty to him or her;
  • That duty was breached;
  • The defendant is the proximate and actual cause of the injury; and
  • Damages were incurred.

In Ruddell's lawsuit, she claims that the pet duck's owner failed to control her pet or warn her neighbors about the duck's dangerous propensity in attacking individuals, according to Reuters. It's also alleged that Ruddell suffered injuries when she was attempting to run away from the duck.

While pet owners do have a duty to warn others if their animals have a history of attacking strangers without provocation, it's unclear if the duck's owner knew that her pet could be dangerous.

Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering damages are usually awarded for past, present, and future physical pain in connection with an accident or injury. To determine if pain and suffering damages are warranted, a jury will consider:

  • The nature of the injury;
  • The certainty of future pain and its severity; and
  • How long the plaintiff is likely to be in pain.

In Ruddell's case, she's seeking pain and suffering damages for the toll the duck attack injuries have taken on her daily life, Reuters reports. For instance, if the jury thinks that recovering from a broken bone and sprained joints will continue to cause Ruddell pain for a considerable time, then she may be able to recover substantial pain and suffering damages.

With Ruddell is seeking $270,000 in damages injuries, duck ownership might not be all its quacked up to be.

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