The family of a Nanticoke man who died shortly after having a finger amputated because his hands were mangled in a dog attack sued the owners on Wednesday, alleging they knew the PIT BULL was dangerous and failed to protect the public.
Donald E. Cox, 79, died Feb. 26, 2015, less than two weeks after an unmuzzled pit bull bit his hands as he sat on his front porch, according to the complaint filed by attorney Katie Nealon of Munley Law.
According to the complaint, Cox was sitting on the porch of his home at 1224 S. Hanover St. on Feb. 15, 2015, as Jeffrey Seiwell, 33, of 1218 New Grant St., walked by with George, a white and brown pit bull.
The dog had a history of “vicious propensities,” having previously attacked people or animals, and Seiwell initially had a muzzle on it, the complaint says. But Seiwell later admitted removing the muzzle, thinking no one was in the area, according to the complaint. The dog “suddenly and without warning” came onto Cox’s property and bit his hand, causing severe bite wounds and fracturing bones in his hand and fingers, the complaint says.
When the attack was over, Seiwell told Cox he would come back with the dog’s paperwork, but never followed through, showing his “consciousness of guilt,” the complaint says. Only later, when city police publicized the case, did officials learn who owned the dog, the complaint says.
The lawsuit says that Seiwell’s mother told police the dog had been seen at two veterinary clinics, but when police checked it out there was no record of vet visits or rabies shots.
Cox, who was in “great pain, agony and suffering,” underwent surgery the day of the attack to be treated for severe dog bites to the right hand and forearm, as well as to the left hand, the complaint says. His left hand sustained “massive loss of soft tissue” and had broken bones, according to the complaint.
The left hand was so badly damaged Cox required a skin graft and needed to have his index finger amputated, resulting in a “shock to his nerves and nervous system” that led to his death eight hours after returning from the hospital from the amputation procedure, according to the complaint.
His obituary identifies him as a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War, Korea and elsewhere around the world before retiring in 1974.
Court records show that Seiwell was found guilty at trial in August 2015 of a summary offense of harboring a dangerous dog. Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker fined him $272, according to court records.
In addition to Seiwell, the lawsuit names as co-defendants his mother, Suzanne Savitski, of 1218 New Grant St., and dog co-owner Lezah Lynn Davis, 28, of Hanover Township, who was also found guilty of a summary offense and fined $194 in the case.
The complaint also targets the owners of the New Grant Street home, Brian S. and Kimberly Kaminski, of 46 Dale Drive, Fairview Township.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000.