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DNT Report: Woman Sues City of Duluth and Former DPD Officer for Alleged K-9 Attack

A woman who suffered injuries in an alleged K-9 attack last year is suing the city of Duluth and a former Duluth Police officer. A woman who suffered injuries in an alleged K-9 attack last year is suing the city of Duluth and a former Duluth Police officer. |  Photo: WDIO-TV/File

WDIO
Updated: August 03, 2019 03:25 PM

A woman who reportedly suffered injuries in an alleged K-9 attack last year is suing the city of Duluth and a former Duluth Police officer.

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Online court documents say Teri Lynn Ehlers filed a lawsuit in July in Roseau County. The Duluth News Tribune reports she is a manager of the Patch Motel in Warroad. The alleged attack took place there in May 2018.

In a civil complaint the News Tribune obtained, Ehlers says former Duluth Police Department officer Marc Johnson and his father reserved a room to stay at the motel between May 25 and May 28, 2018.

According to the complaint, Johnson's dad, Richard Johnson, reportedly informed the motel that they would have a service dog, K-9 Oakley accompany them. At the time, officer Johnson was off-duty. 

The News Tribune reports the complaint alleges motel accommodations were made for the dog under false pretenses, and that the suit asserts that Oakley does not fit the definition of a service dog.

On May 28, the complaint reportedly says Ehlers was checking housekeeping duties and noted the room the Johnson's stayed in was partly open. She knocked on the door and after getting no response, entered. As soon as she did K-9 Oakley attacked her and bit her right upper thigh, according to the complaint. 

The complaint reportedly says the dog did not release her until officer Johnson intervened. She was taken to the emergency room. Two open wounds were documented as well as multiple puncture wounds.

In the complaint, Ehlers reportedly said she has suffered from nightmares and experiences anxiety around dogs. 

The News Tribune reports since the incident, Johnson is in another agency and K-9 Oakley has retired.

The suit alleges Marc Johnson demonstrated a disregard for the safety of others by misrepresenting the nature of the dog he brought into the motel, failing to warn staff of the danger the animal posed and failing to put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign, given the dog’s proclivity to attack a perceived intruder, according to the News Tribune.

According to the News Tribune, the suit asks a jury to rule on two counts of strict liability against the city of Duluth and Johnson. It includes an additional count of negligence against both the city and Johnson. For each of the counts, Ehlers seeks at least $50,000 plus expenses.

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