T&T: Court trial after pit bulls maul mom to death

Trinidad Express:-A Civil Court trial to determine whether the Housing Development Corporation is liable for a tenant’s pitbulls mauling death of a woman, began on Thursday.

Lionel Rackal, the widower of a Denise Rackal who was mauled to death by four pitbulls in an HDC neighbourhood six years ago had sued the owner of the dogs, Darryl La Pierre, and the HDC.

La Pierre settled the claim with Rackal and damages are yet to be determined by the court.

Rackal however also claimed that since the lands were leased to La Pierre by HDC, the Corporation is vicariously liable as the landlords and/ or property managers as it authorised the keeping of the dangerous dogs in the lease agreement, and would have been aware of the dogs being kept by La Pierre.

La Pierre, a police officer, owned four pitbulls named “Obama”, “Zola”, “Champion”, and “Fella”, which attacked Denise Rackal, as she walked along Bengal Avenue, Edinburgh Gardes, on May 9, 2011.

Rackal, was a 47-year-old security officer of Indian Trail, Couva. She was walking to her workplace when mauled.

The trial is being heard before Justice Frank Seepersad in the San Fernando High Court.

The claimant is contending that the HDC had previously warned La Pierre of the escape of the pitbulls under his care.

The widower is also contending that the HDC is liable for breach of statutory duty and/ or occupiers liability and/ or negligence by the HDC to take steps to prevent Denise Rackal’s death.

According to her husband’s claim, the dogs escaped on several occasions previous to the incident involving his wife, causing fear and or injury thereby creating a public nuisance.

Lionel Rackal is seeking damages for bereavement, aggravated damages, damages under the Compensation Act, costs and interests.

Attorney Prem Persad Maharaj is representing Rackal, while attorney Shanker Bidaisee is appearing for HDC.

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