(This post has been updated.)
A West Virginia woman visited a House congressional office two years ago this month. While waiting for her meeting, she was bitten on the finger by a staffer’s dog.
For her physical and emotional harm, she is suing the House of Representatives for $200,000.
According to the lawsuit, filed in D.C. federal court Friday, Elizabeth Crawford was invited to Rep. Tom McClintock’s (R-Calif.) Washington office in January 2013. While waiting for her appointment, she dropped her pen. When she bent down to pick it up, an unattended dog named “Who Dey” bit her on the right index finger. The dog, according to the complaint, did not have its current rabies vaccination.
The lawsuit doesn’t detail Crawford’s specific injuries other than that she sustained “severe and permanent bodily injuries and mental anguish; she has incurred medical expenses attempting to cure herself of such injuries; and her normal, social and recreational activities have been curtailed.”
Her lawyer, Benjamin Pelton, said the small dog drew blood and damaged a nerve. He claimed that the bite resulted in $26,000 in medical bills, including a surgery to straighten her tendon and rabies shots. The other $174,000 she’s seeking? “Pain and suffering,” he said.
The lawsuit accuses the dog’s owner, Chris Tudor, a staffer in McClintock’s office, of “negligence” for creating an “unsafe and hazardous condition” by having “Who Dey” roaming the office. “Who Dey,” according to a photo on the national Humane Society’s Flickr page in 2011, is an all black dog who Tudor wrote
McClintock’s office has not returned requests for comment. Neither has the House Office of General Counsel.
An original claim for damages was sent to the House counsel in July. In responding, “they made a ridiculously low settlement offer” in the four figures, Pelton said. So Crawford filed suit.
Crawford was scheduled to meet with McClintock’s office about domestic violence issues. She told the Loop she “bled profusely,” but still went to the meeting. Crawford didn’t want to answer any other questions.