In this case, Plaintiff Sparks sued Defendants Brian and Bethany Windal and made a demand of $75,000. Harrison + Hull attorneys Richard Harrison and Matthew Mumm traveled to the 89th District Court in Wichita County, Texas and obtained a full defense verdict, awarding the Plaintiff nothing. Below are the details as written by Verdict Search:

Case: Tammy Sparks v. Bethany Windal and Brian Windal (No. 177,243-C)
Court: 89th Judicial District Court, Wichita County, Texas
Date: January 14, 2016

Facts of the Case:

On May 31, 2011, plaintiff Tammy Sparks, 57, a violinist and violin teacher, was with her husband and their two dogs, in the “large dog” section of a dog park in Wichita Falls. Defendant Bethany Windal was also present, with Riley, a 45- pound female boxer belonging to Windal and her husband. While playing, Riley ran into Sparks from behind at full speed, and Sparks fell and broke her wrist.

Sparks sued the Windals on theories of negligence and strict liability. The negligence theory was that Riley was out of control that day and that the defendants negligently failed to restrain her and handle her properly. Sparks alleged that Riley had jumped up on several people that day, including Sparks’ husband.

Sparks further alleged that Riley had dangerous propensities and that the Windals were therefore strictly liable. However, the court dismissed that claim on summary judgment, finding that there was no evidence that the dog had dangerous propensities.

Regarding the negligence claim, the defendants contended that Riley was behaving no differently than the many other dogs in the park, and that Sparks was negligent for standing with her back to the dogs and failing to keep a proper lookout. The defense also questioned the allegation that Riley had jumped on anyone that day.

One of the people present at the time of the incident was a man who had spearheaded the effort to create the dog park. He testified that it was his two German shepherds who were playing with Riley and chasing her, and that, from what he observed, Riley was not out of control. He also said he did not see Riley jump on anyone.

Alleged Injuries and Damages

Sparks sustained a comminuted, displaced fracture of the left (non-dominant) distal radius. Her husband took her to the emergency room that evening, and she was given a brace and pain medication.

The next day, she went to an orthopedic surgeon, and on June 3, he performed an open reduction and internal fixation, with a plate and four screws. Sparks followed with him and underwent physical therapy for several months. Her last doctor visit was in mid-October, and her last physical therapy session was in November.

Sparks was a violin teacher for a Wichita Falls school district, a member of the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra and a coach of the Wichita Falls Youth Orchestra. She claimed that, after the incident, her ability to play the violin was not the same.

Sparks sought a little more than $12,000 in past medical bills and sought damages for past and future pain and suffering, physical impairment and disfigurement. She sought a total of $75,000.

After hearing the evidence and arguments of counsel, the jury found Sparks alone negligent.