Jury Awards Dog’s Savior $3 Million

           LOS ANGELES (CN) – A man who tried to protect a run-over dog from traffic, then was run over himself, has been awarded $3 million by a Los Angeles jury.
     Joseph Butenhoff, 36, of Long Beach suffered brain injuries when defendant Rae Anne Bautista smashed him with her Nissan Xterra as he tried to protect an injured husky on Dec. 3, 2012.
     Butenhoff was standing in the road to keep an eye on traffic after his friend’s dog was hit by a car. Bautista’s car flung Butenhoff 25 feet, giving him lacerations, a lung contusion, a fracture and a traumatic brain injury, his attorney said.
     After a seven-day trial in downtown LA, a state court jury found on Aug. 11 that Butenhoff should not have been standing in the street, but based on witness testimony found that Bautista was speeding and driving recklessly, said his attorney, Gavin Long with Bisnar Chase.
     “Jurors recognized that our client was the good Samaritan here,” Long said in a statement. “He was out in the street trying to help his friend and rescue the dog. Here he was, putting himself in harm’s way, to help a suffering dog.”
     The dog eventually died from its injuries, according to the law firm.
     Butenhoff made a $875,000 claim against Allstate Insurance. He sued Bautista for negligence after Allstate made a final offer of $100,000.
     The 12-person jury awarded him $500,000 for past pain and suffering, and $2.5 million for future pain and suffering.
     Long described his client as a man with a “good heart” who has been left with permanent disabilities, including memory loss and other cognitive issues.
     “He was able to continue to work, but in a different capacity, and we were able to show the jury that he was a different man in terms of his abilities and behavior. He can never be the same man he was before this injury.”

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