$7M verdict in dog mauling case

Justin Clinton
Justin Clinton

By Sara Story - bio | email

RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV)- Jurors returned a $7 million verdict against the owners of the pit bull mix and American bulldog who attacked and killed 10-year old Justin Clinton last year in Leverett's Chapel.

Serenia Clinton says justice was served. "All I could think about is my baby boy is up there just smiling down, 'Momma did it.'"

Her son, Justin, was brutally attacked by the dogs in June of 2009. He was riding his skateboard to meet a friend when the dogs mauled him.

Friday, a Rusk County jury returned a $7 million verdict against the owners of those dogs, Ricky and Christy George. "The verdict was wonderful, saying they were negligent. It could have been prevented, and that's all we needed out, and I think we got that message out loud and clear," said Clinton. "The jury found that the Georges were negligent in the way they maintained their property so that these vicious dogs could get at a child, and they were strictly liable," said Cynthia Kent, a representative for the Clinton family.

Kent said this is one of the largest, if not the largest, verdicts reached in a case where a dog has killed a child. She added, "We hope with this verdict we can go down to Austin, maybe to Washington, and say, 'Is there something we can do to require pet owners who have dangerous dogs, dangerous breeds of dogs, to be more responsible?'"

The trial lasted five days before a verdict was reached. "To hear the stories over and over again was rough, very tough," said Clinton.

Despite the $7 million judgement, Clinton says nothing will bring back her little boy. "Everyday, little songs on the radio, anything Justin said or did, he is everywhere, and he always will be," said Clinton.

Defense witnesses testified that they never saw the dogs act aggressively, and one witness described the animals as "loveable." Criminal charges are still pending against the owners of the dogs.

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