Saturday, March 28, 2020

Settlement reached in Dayton dog mauling death of Klonda Richey.

Six years after the mauling death of Klonda Richey, a settlement has been reached between the family of Ms. Richey and Montgomery County Commissioners.  Montgomery County will pay Richey's sister and brother 3.5 million dollars.  Montgomery County commissioners are expected to approve the settlement on March 31st.  The settlement will allow Montgomery to avoid a messy trial in the wrongful death case.  Per the Dayton Daily News " “This lovely lady passed away. You never get over that,” said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge. “But it has been dragging on for a while … Nobody wants to go through a trial.”  

No, Ms. Dodge, this lovely lady did not peacefully "pass away" she was brutally mauled to death by her neighbor's dogs and her death was predictable, she predicted it herself.   Per the attorney representing the Richey estate  “The evidence is clear that Ms. Richey experienced prolonged conscious pain and suffering prior to her death.”
Deadly dog attack: Klonda Richey's body was found torn to shreds on the snow-covered sidewalk outside her Ohio home on Friday
Photo by WKEF News of the snow in front of Klonda Richey's home saturated with her blood.

Ms. Richey's thirteen complaints to the then County Dog Warden Mark Kumpf, made from 2012 until the time of her death in 2014, received no response other than sternly worded post-it notes left on the door of neighbors and dog owners Andrew Nason and Julie Custer. There was absolutely no follow-up to these post-it notes because Kumpf was "unaware" that follow-up was required.  Here is a quote from Kumpf, the link is no longer live.  " Per WDTN  Numerous warnings were left for the dog owners at 35 East Bruce Avenue, but no action was taken. Kumpf says a warning is simply a notice that an officer responded to a complaint. There’s really no follow-up after that unless the owner calls the Animal Resource Center to find out more.This is the problem, zero follow- up. No Dangerous Dog designation was ever produced, no fines, no containment orders, no orders to obtain insurance.  This was the typical response to complaints made to dog warden Kumpf, a dog warden with multiple human fatalities in his county during his watch due to his refusal to enforce the law.  Please read the 2016 ruling from the Court of Appeals of Ohio Second Appellate District Montgomery County for an eye-opening explanation of Kumpf's business model.  That model included, in addition to the refusal to enforce the law, refusal to answer phone calls, destruction of records, instructions to his staff to write fewer citations and zero follow-up to post-it note citations.

Unlike most high-dollar settlements, this one will result in actual payment.  This payment may set a precedent for other victim-led lawsuits against other city Animal Control departments where priority currently favors inaction (sloth) protecting the owners of violent dogs over the safety of the public.   Will it change how laws are enforced?  Less sloth and more actual protection for peaceful people in their own communities?  What a refreshing change this would be.

Montgomery County went into damage control overdrive after the Dayton deaths of Richey and 7-month-old Jonathan Quarles Jr, killed by a relative's pit bull that was known to the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center as a dangerous dog but was allowed to remain in the community. In an effort to salvage their reputation Montgomery County Commissioners sponsored a two-day seminar for law enforcement and animal control officers from all over Ohio, links are no longer live.  Per WDTN News " Officers, along with animal shelter employees, and municipal and county prosecutors met inside Sinclair Community College for a seminar to discuss ways to improve the response and investigation of dog mauling cases. The group also took time to discuss changing and adding legislation and asking legislators to strengthen dog laws."  The seminar was held prior to the Dayton pit bull mauling death of Maurice Brown.  Dog Warden Kumpf failed to attend?  Was asleep in the back row? 

Bills strengthening Ohio dog laws still languish in committees in the Ohio State House to the shame of all Ohio lawmakers. 

But, I digress.  Allowing Kumpf to remain in his position for years after his failures became public knowledge and holding a seminar for Animal Control professionals did little to protect the interests of the Montgomery County Commissioners or soften the blow to local taxpayers. This is a big lawsuit and it should have a big impact.  

Mark Kumpf at the time of his firing by Montgomery County commissioners.  Kumpf is now serving as head of Animal Control in Detroit, another city where death by dog mauling is a sad reality. Of all the possibilities, Detroit decided that Kumpf was the best choice to head their mess of an animal control department?