A $2 million personal injury dog bite suit against the City of Cookeville, Tennessee and the Cookeville Police Department has been settled for $20,000. The suit was filed last year after a March 14, 2008 incident in which Melo, a police dog that has since been taken out of service, escaped his handler, Officer Chase Mathis, and attacked an innocent man who was taking out the garbage at a Cookeville bar.
The suit was filed by Ryan Patrick Moody, who was employed by The Library bar as a bouncer at the time of the incident. He named the city, the police department, Mathis, and Police Chief Bob Terry as defendants.
At approximately 3 a.m. on the day of the incident, Moody walked out the back door of the bar to take the trash out. Mathis had just stopped his car not far away to let the dog out to relieve itself. The dog was not on a leash and took off running in the direction of a noise it apparently heard and attacked Moody.
The suit alleged that the dog attempted to bite Moody on the neck and he attempted to fight it off using empty trash cans. He said he retreated to the bed of a truck, but the dog circled the vehicle and jumped up into the bed and bit him on the leg. Mathis then ran to the scene and attempted to pull the dog away and other officers eventually arrived to help as well.
Moody suffered serious wounds to his leg that required surgery. The suit claims Melo had a history of vicious attacks that were known by the police force and that the department either disregarded the fact or was negligent in keeping the dog in service.
The suit came before Judge Amy Hollars in Circuit Court in December for a settlement which had been worked out between Moody and the city’s attorney. According to court documents, in exchange for $20,000, Moody settled his claims against all of the defendants for forever.