The tragic death of a four-year-old boy may have set a new precedent for pet-related wrongful death litigations. On March 26, a Texas jury awarded $5 million to the family of Kylar Johnson, a child who was mauled to death by a pitbull in 2012. Johnson’s family was represented by Carlson Law Firm partner L. Todd Kelly, who filed the suit on behalf of Kylar and his parents in 2014, two years from the exact date the child was found dead in the unfenced backyard of a neighbor in Victoria, Texas.
Investigators at the scene said the boy was mauled by one of the 10 pitbulls in his neighbor’s backyard. The dogs were tethered on 10-foot chains.
During the trial, Kelly wanted the jury to feel the pain and fear his client must have felt during the mauling. He set up a Buzz Lightyear toy in front of the jury, similar to the one found next to Kylar’s body, and read a poem for the jury to get the full picture of Kylar’s last moments. Kelly hopes Kylar’s story will serve as a warning to negligent dog owners.
“Our firm is proud to have been chosen to help this family find closure after this tragedy. While no verdict can ever undo what they have been through, we are glad that the verdict will tell this family that their son’s life mattered,” Kelly said. “The jury was asked to be the voice for this child whose last words were not heard. They did just that.”
The damages awarded for the fatal mauling are out of the norm for dog bite cases in Texas where compensation in dog attack cases average nearly $30,000.