Son Sued in Fatal Dog Attack on Motherwww.messenger-inquirer.com
August 13, 2005, OWENSBORO, KENTUCKY -- The administrator of the estate of a woman killed by dogs in her son's backyard in western Daviess County last year has filed a lawsuit against her son in circuit court seeking damages.
The lawsuit alleges that John Leroy DeLacey was negligent in owning and not properly controlling dogs he should have known were dangerous and that negligence caused the death of his mother, 87-year-old Mary Helen DeLacey.
Mary DeLacey died the night of Aug. 6, 2004, after her son's dogs attacked her in the backyard of his home at 9000 West Fifth Street Road, where she had been staying for two weeks while recovering from hip surgery.
Owensboro attorney John G. Thacker, administrator for DeLacey's estate, filed the lawsuit last week asking for unspecified punitive damages from John DeLacey, who lives next door to his mother's home.
Thacker did not return phone calls requesting comment about the lawsuit Friday.
DeLacey said Friday he wasn't surprised by the lawsuit, which he said stems from his being named sole beneficiary of his mother's estate.
"I took care of my mother for 24 years, and then this accident happened," DeLacey said. "It's just a sad situation."
DeLacey has a picture of his mother prominently displayed in his house and said he still takes care of his mother's house, which sits a short distance away. "The last time I seen her, she was sitting right here," DeLacey said, pointing to the couch inside his front door.
DeLacey had been mowing his lawn that night and went to check on his mother about 7:45 p.m. When he returned to the house a short time later, he saw she wasn't there and realized a kitchen rug was missing, he said.
Investigators with the Daviess County Sheriff's Department believe Mary DeLacey went to the back door of her son's house that night to shake out a rug, which attracted the attention of six dogs in his backyard.
It appears several of the dogs grabbed on to the rug, dragged her to the ground and attacked her, according to the sheriff's department.
No criminal charges were filed in her death. The six dogs that were in the pen where Mary DeLacey was killed were euthanized several days after the attack.
The dogs had never attacked anyone and were always kept in a fenced-in area by his house or chained up, DeLacey said.
"It definitely was a freak accident," DeLacey said. "It's a tragedy I know I'll never recover from."
DeLacey said his mother changed her will about three years before her death and named him the sole beneficiary, which he believes might be the reason for the lawsuit. His sister, Mary Frances Fogle, was a beneficiary in the previous will, he said.
Fogle was out of town Friday and not available for comment, according to her husband. Thomas Fogle said the couple was aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment further.
DeLacey said he has kept his mother's house just as it was before her death. "She was a strong little lady," he said. "She was just as good a person as you could ever want."