Judge Tosses Wrongful Death Suit for Staten Island Man Killed by Pit Bulls

By Nicholas Rizzi on August 16, 2012 5:50pm 

Staten Island Supreme Court ruled in favor of New York City in the $7 million wrongful death suit filed by the family of Henry Piotrowski, the 90-year-old Port Richmond resident who was fatally mauled by two pit bulls.
Staten Island Supreme Court ruled in favor of New York City in the $7 million wrongful death suit filed by the family of Henry Piotrowski, the 90-year-old Port Richmond resident who was fatally mauled by two pit bulls.
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STATEN ISLAND — A judge tossed a $7 million lawsuit against the city filed by the family of a 90-year-old man who was killed by two dogs in Port Richmond.

Staten Island Supreme Court Judge Thomas Aliotta ruled this week that the city had no "special duty" to protect Henry Piotrowski from the dogs that eventually killed him, even though several 911 calls were made about the unleashed dogs, court documents said.

"It's disappointing," the lawyer for Piotrowski's family, Michael Gervasi, said about the ruling. "It's sad that so many people had to complain about the same danger."

Piotrowski was mauled by his neighbors pit bulls in his John Street backyard on July 1, 2008. Doctors later amputated one of the World War II veteran's leg and then he passed away over a month later, the New York Daily News reported.

Elaine Sutton, Piotrowski's niece, filed a wrongful death suit against the police and health departments because of the 911 calls, court documents said.

But Aliotta said that because the complaints were not made by the victim, the defense could not prove police had any contact with Piotrowski and a "special duty" to protect him from the dogs.

However, one of the witnesses said they specifically mentioned being worried about Piotrowski's safety because the dogs would roam in his yard, Gervasi said.

"One of the witnesses specifically referenced Mr. Piotrowski," he said. "The courts still won't recognize the city's negligence."

The two dogs, Brutus and Popeye, were euthanized after the attack, NY1 reported.

Owners James McNair, 32, and Kim DiPrima, 41, who lived nearby on Newark Avenue, were both charged with manslaughter after Piotrowski's death, according to the district attorney's office.

In 2009, DiPrima pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and got five years' probation. McNair pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to three years in prison, the Staten Island Advance reported.

McNair, a registered sex offender, was also sentenced to a concurrent one to three year sentence for failing to notify authorities about a chance of address, the Advance reported.

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