13-year-old awarded $237,000 after Labrador bit her face

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BRIDGEPORT–A teenage girl was awarded nearly $237,000 by a judge on Wednesday after she was attacked by a dog last spring.

On March 23, 2014, around 1:30 p.m., Mykelle Bullock, who was 12 at the time, was walking home from the grocery store on Hillside Avenue in Brigeport when a small dog came up and bit her pants, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. The dog held on, and wouldn’t let go.

While she was trying to disengage the little dog, a larger Labrador retriever put his paws on her shoulder and bit her face.

She was taken to the hospital and stitched up, but the attack left a 2-centimeter-long scar on her cheek, which is raised. A plastic surgeon said she needed to wait at least a year before he could possibly work on the scar, and that he though it would be best to wait until she was at least 14.

“The plastic surgeon said that African-Americans scar differently than someone of Caucasian descent,” her lawyer, Joseph De Lucio, told the Connecticut Law Tribune. “The scar, because it’s light, is more noticeable than it would be on a Caucasian person because of the color contrast.”

She was also given a series of rabies shots at the hospital.

Mykelle is now 13, and said people frequently ask her about the scars on her face. “If you looked at this pretty young girl and saw the right side of her face, you’d notice something had happened,” de Lucio said. “It does bother her. She has a permanent scar now; maybe it’ll be a little less noticeable after the surgery.”

Mykelle’s family sued the dog’s owner, Lynette Martinez, for liability negligence under the state’s dog bite statute, which makes a dog’s owner responsible for injuries unless the person hurt was trespassing or teasing the dog. Mykelle didn’t do either.

“They seemed to argue that the family was just looking for a payday regarding the injury,” Nicole Levine, Mykelle’s other lawyer, told the Connecticut Law Tribune.

Martinez’s lawyers’ argument was that Mykelle posted on Instagram and social media the day of the incident saying she was considering suing Martinez. “That was something the defense was jumping all over, that on the day of the accident [the family] was already contemplating a lawsuit. Our rebuttal to that was the injury was so severe…that the only way to bring justice to her is to sue,” said Levine.

The judge sided with Mykelle, awarding her $236,602. Of that, $11,602 was for economic damages for past and future medical costs.

Levine said that the money will help pay for the plastic surgery she will need, and the rest will be set aside for a college fund.