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Supreme Court hears dog attack death appeal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether the Monroe County Commission and a dog warden are responsible for the 2009 death of a man who was attacked by neighborhood dogs.The justices heard arguments Wednesday in an appeal by Dreama Bowden, whose husband, Lowell, died a week after the attack in Lindside.The State Journal reported a Monroe County judge had ruled Bowden failed to make a valid claim that the Monroe County Commission and others were not immune from liability under state law.Bowden alleges wrongful death and the failure of the commission and dog warden, Patricia Green, to collect taxes on the pit bulls. Her complaint also said Green failed to patrol the county and seize dogs that didn't have a valid registration tag.
Lowell Bowden was taking his daily walk on Nov. 27, 2009, when he was attacked by several dogs that were running loose.The complaint said the county had been contacted previously about "a pack of wild and vicious pit bulls terrorizing their neighborhood in Monroe County.'' Green told the family she would "take care of'' the problem, and an unspecified citation was issued to the dogs' owners.The complaint said conversations with Green "surely would rise to lull Mr. Bowden into a false sense of security or induce him to relax vigilance or forgo other avenues of protection.'' It also said the commission and Green were expected to exercise their law enforcement duties.The commission and other defendants said they were immune under the West Virginia Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act and the state public duty doctrine. Bowden's complaint said the act has exceptions for negligence, but commission attorney Wendy Greve said the negligence claims were futile.
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