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Former Valencia resident sues Disney

Park’s dog mauled 2-year-old girl’s face

Posted: September 24, 2008 8:06 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Doctors performed several facial surgeries on 5-year-old Lena Dickerson after a dog named Hemmingway mauled her face when she was only two at a Disneyland petting zoo, her attorney said.

She faces at least five more procedures in the next 10 years to minimize the scarring to her face, said Valencia-based attorney Michael Bishay.

Bishay and Jerome Konell, of Konell Ruggiero and Konell in Los Angeles, filed the suit Tuesday in Orange Country Superior Court against Disneyland on behalf of Lena Dickerson and several family members. Bishay and Konell are requesting damages for past and future medical expenses, physical and psychological suffering, and punitive damages against the Walt Disney World Company.

The cost of the damages could “certainly be in the millions,” if the family wins the suit, Bishay said.

After years of living in Valencia, the Dickersons moved to live with family in Illinois for emotional support. 

“All have experienced great psychological trauma from not only the attack but also watching Lena’s face get mauled by Hemmingway,” the lawsuit states.

In October 2006, Lena’s face was attacked by German Shepherd-Labrador Retriever mix, a dog that was noted by the Orange County Animal Shelter as being unsocial, according to the lawsuit.

Walt Disney World Company is in part charged with failing to conduct a background check on Hemmingway. The dog came into the shelter as an unliscenced stray and with aggressive behavior, Bishay said. Five days after Hemmingway was put up for adoption by the shelter, Disney employeees adopted the dog.

Hemmgingway bit Lena’s face a couple of times, attacking the area around her eye, before her father jumped on the dog to pry him off, the suit claims. She was rushed to the University of California-Irvine Medial Center’s emergency room where her wounds were taped and glued. After her wounds became infected, further surgeries were necessary, according the lawsuit.

Calls to Disney from The Signal were not returned Wednesday.


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