The city of Lodi has settled with a Lodi resident who received a scar on his face from a police dog who bit him while he was being arrested in April 2010.
Dean Newhall, 28, will receive $197,000 from the city plus $25,000 that was paid directly to Lodi Memorial Hospital for his medical bills, City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said.
Newhall was admittedly under the influence of drugs on April 17, 2010 when he attacked an officer. Another officer shot Newhall with a Taser, and it took four officers to get him to the ground and handcuffed. After he was restrained, Bronx, a Lodi canine, jumped from a window of a locked police car and bit Newhall on the face.
"It has been our argument from the very beginning that no one is excusing Mr. Newhall's actions, and he was arrested justifiably so, but he did not deserve to be bitten," Newhall's lawyer Russell Humphrey said.
Schwabauer said the officers acted appropriately throughout the situation.
"That being said, there were four officers on top of a man who was handcuffed. No one would have intentionally sent a dog into a situation when four officers were on top of a man. It was not an appropriate outcome, although not an intentional outcome," he said.
Schwabauer said the dog acted of its own volition, and Bronx was retired soon after the altercation.
Newhall suffered torn flesh, crushed tissue, punctures and severe nerve damage from the dog bite.
Both Schwabauer and Humphrey said the case would have been expensive if it went to trial because they would need to have a variety of experts, including medical experts, dog-handling experts and police use-of-force experts.
Humphrey said the case could have cost both the city and the plaintiff $500,000 total to go to trial, and that the jury could have potentially awarded Newhall more than $1 million.
Schwabauer said the city took the money that it would have cost to take the case to trial and put it into the settlement because of the situation.
"In this particular case, we agreed that this gentleman's face being bit was not the desired outcome," he said.
The settlement is the best outcome for both the city and Newhall, Humphrey said. The jury could have decided to give Newhall the full amount he was asking for, or because he committed a crime, they could have given him nothing.
"Maybe a jury would give him a lot of money, but I thought it was just as likely that maybe they wouldn't. In these cases, it's in the best interest for parties to settle them before spending a lot of money on experts," Humphrey said.
Since the incident, Newhall's face has "healed up well," Humphrey said, although there is still a scar. But he said there still can be emotional scars from the attack.
"He could have issues with confidence and apprehension with animals and police officers that he will probably have for the rest of his life," Humphrey said.