Woman sues Norwalk: my son stepped in dog poop

by Ted Frank on May 9, 2008

A New York woman who took her family to visit the Maritime Aquarium has filed a $100 claim against the city, saying her child’s shoes, along with the entire outing, were ruined when her 1-year-old stepped in dog feces early last month outside the Maritime Garage.

Norwalk officials will deny the claim, city attorney M. Jeffry Spahr said.

“The official response is her claim is denied and poop happens,” he said.

The claim by Mahopac, N.Y., resident, Kelly DeBrocky was filed with the city clerk on April 7. It came across Spahr’s desk yesterday.

Spahr said he has seen some frivolous claims, but the feces claim reeks.

“Some wacky stuff comes across. I don’t know if people are more litigious. My opinion is two things are at play. No. 1, people are resistant to taking responsibility for their own actions and No. 2, they feel there always has to be somebody to blame,” he said.

Other claims without merit, Spahr said, include a boater who blamed the city after his boat, docked at the city marina, filled up with water in a heavy rainstorm and sank, and parents who hold the city responsible when their children fall and injure themselves on playground monkey bars.

Spahr also cited a suit by boxer Travis Simms two days before he won the super-welterweight title in January 2007.

Simms said that a 2005 injury he suffered during a basketball game at Benjamin Franklin School due to city negligence sidelined his boxing career for two years.

The city is waiting to see whether Simms will drop the case amicably.

Spahr said that long after that is resolved, lawyers in his office will still be talking about the feces claim.

“That’s kind of way up there in a take-the-cake kind of thing,” he said.

The mother claims she had to discard her toddler’s clothes and shoes and return home after the incident, and wants reimbursement. Spahr’s response: “I’m also having a tough time picturing why (the child) had to be bathed after stepping in this unless he thought it was some kind of poop sandbox.” (Alexandra Fenwick, “City: Mom’s claim stinks”, Stamford Advocate, May 8 (via Romenesko)).

{ 5 comments }

1 Charles Lumia 05.09.08 at 2:10 am

That guy is a seriously wise man:

“No. 1, people are resistant to taking responsibility for their own actions and No. 2, they feel there always has to be somebody to blame,”

So true. We need a politician to step up and say those exact words.

2 mer 05.09.08 at 7:31 am

Funny. I have dogs, I walk them all the time. Every place I’ve lived had “pooper scooper” laws; I’m assuming Norfolk does too. Unless the dog that left the gift was a K9 unit and the officer did not clean it up, how does the city become liable? If I threw out a banana peel and you slipped on it, is the city liable for it?

Sometimes I wish I was stupid enough to try to sue for “crap” like this.

3 Anonymous Attorney 05.09.08 at 2:53 pm

mer, as a former defense attorney for a city, I can share with you the words spoken by a supervisor during my first week on the job:

“The city is liable for anything that happens inside city limits.”

He was joking, of course. But not much.

The sidewalk claims have to do with the city’s common-law duty to keep the walkways safe. If someone tripped on a crack, they’ll say, “the city should have fixed that crack.”

Extending this principle to dog doo is obviously going to be difficult.

4 Evil HR Lady 05.09.08 at 3:51 pm

What mother of a one year old doesn’t carry diaper wipes and a change of clothes for her child?

Mothers of toddlers are used to poop. Granted, it’s usually toddler poop, but stepping in dog poop should have elicited a groan and caused the di aper bag to open up and wipe to be brought out.

Granted, I never carry change of shoes, but that’s generally because one year olds spend most of their time in public in a stroller or being carried.

5 VMS 05.09.08 at 7:41 pm

Usually, municipalities have codified requirements that they be put on notice of the “hazardous” condition prior to liabiliy attaching, unless they were the ones that directly created the condition. That would preclude this lawsuit.

This is not a case of being “overlawyered.” Having a good laugh is well worth the slight cost of this case to the taxpayers of Norwalk. The City attorneys need a break from the monotony of handling the run-of-the-mill claims.

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