9/19/14 Jury Verdict: $100,000.00 Dog Bite

by Brian Cunha on September 26, 2014

9/19/14 Bristol Superior Court:

After a three day Trial in the New Bedford Superior Court, a jury rendered a $100,000.00 verdict for the Plaintiff who was represented by Attorney Sharon Sybel from Brian Cunha & Associates, against the owner of a pit bull whose dog caused serious injuries to the Plaintiff .

The incident occurred on April 5, 2011 when the female Plaintiff,46, a tenant of the Defendant, went to the first floor apartment to return borrowed keys. After the Plaintiff knocked on the door, the Defendant’s girlfriend opened the door and the Defendant’s two pit bulls ran out into the hallway where the Plaintiff was standing. One of the dogs bit the Plaintiff on the right foot causing injury.

Critical to the case were photographs of the Plaintiff’s injured foot taken just after the incident. (As in many cases, prior to surgery, the orthopedic surgeon took several photographs of the Plaintiff’s foot that were shown to the jury during the course of the Trial.) Attorney Sybel was able to secure those photos for trial. The impact of these photographs undoubtably aided the jury in understanding the significant pain and suffering sustained by the Plaintiff which was reflected in their verdict.( The lesson to be learned is that photos are very important and can speak a thousand words)

The Defendants defense at trial was that the defendant was not liable as prior to the attack the Plaintiff had teased the pit bulls. The Defendant also attempted to introduce evidence of the Plaintiff’s prior criminal record and character to negatively influence the jury.

Crucially in this case Attorney Sybel was able to successfully convince the judge that the plaintiffs criminal record was irrelevant to the real issue before the court as to whether the dog had bitten the Plaintiff and whether the plaintiff was at fault and that the sole reason that the Defendant was attempting to introduce this evidence was to prejudice the jury against the Plaintiff. The judge sided with Attorney Sybel and disallowed the prejudicial evidence

Again critically, at the completion of the trial, Attorney Sybel also successfully argued to the trial Judge that the defendant had failed to introduce sufficient evidence that the Plaintiff had teased or tormented the dogs to allow the jury to decide the issue. The Judge agreed and found as a matter of law that the Plaintiff did not tease the dogs and found the Defendant responsible for the dog bite, leaving the jury to decide damages After a three day Trial in the New Bedford Superior Court, a jury rendered a $100,000.00 verdict for the Plaintiff who was represented by Attorney Sharon Sybel from Brian Cunha & Associates, against the owner of a pit bull whose dog caused serious injuries to the Plaintiff .


3/19/14 $500,000 verdict against State of RI

by Brian Cunha on March 19, 2014

$500,000.00 Jury Verdict Awarded Today to LPN Injured at R.I. Veterans Nursing Home

PROVIDENCE: After a week-long trial, a six-person jury sitting in the Providence Superior Court today rendered a $500,000.00 verdict against the State of Rhode Island in favor of Victoria Roach of Newport, who was injured in 2008 at the R.I. Veterans Home in Bristol.

The State of Rhode Island owns and operates the 260-bed, nursing care facility. Roach was assigned to work at the home on a per diem basis as a licensed practical nurse; she was employed by Mass Medical Associates, a temporary placement agency for nurses.

The case was heard before Superior Court Justice Patricia Hurst. Roach was represented by Brian Cunha and Karen Alegria of Brian Cunha & Associates. The State of Rhode Island was represented by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Shaw.

While on duty on November 10, 2008, the plaintiff was seriously injured when she slipped and fell on soapy water or cleaning fluid left on the floor of a resident’s bathroom. Roach was dispensing medication at this time to a totally disabled resident. She was attempting to dispose in the bathroom sink a small amount of liquid used in administering medication to her patient. In so doing, she entered and fell in the resident’s bathroom.

Roach’s lawyers, Brian Cunha and Karen Alegria of Brian Cunha & Associates, presented evidence at trial that the cleaning spill was not adequately wiped and cleaned beforehand -even though one or more CNAs had responsibility for doing so immediately preceding the accident. Evidence was also presented at trial that one or more CNAs had failed to adequately inspect the area as required.

Plaintiff’s counsel proved that Roach was severely injured as a result. She suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus that resulted in surgery to repair her knee, and she was unable to return to work for an extended period of time.

“This case is a wake-up call to all nursing home operators that they have to be vigilant in routinely inspecting and maintaining their premises,” Cunha said.

The R.I. Veterans Home is the 260-bed, nursing care facility in Bristol that is owned and operated by the State of Rhode Island. The facility also maintains six long term care units, including an Alzheimer’s Care Unit and two ambulatory care units with 79 beds. The State of Rhode Island owns and operates the R.I. Veterans Home in Bristol.



Attorney Brian Cunha

Offices in Rhode Island and Massachusetts


(c) 508-979-6759


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