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Sonoma County Woman Gets $1 million Settlement in Vicious Dog Bite Case


A Santa Rosa woman, who was badly injured and scarred in a ferocious dog attack two years ago, has received a $1 million settlement, an amount that equals the upper limit of the dog owner’s insurance policy. According to an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Wendy Rydberg received $900,000 and her husband and two children got $33,000 each, avoiding what promised to be an emotional jury trial.

The victim, Rydberg, who spent four days in the hospital and underwent three surgeries to fix the scars on her nose, cheek and lips, told the newspaper that she is relieved by the settlement and feels that she can now move on with her life. The incident reportedly occurred on April 6, 2006, when an American bulldog owned by 19-year-old Emmelia Dale-Pincus bit Rydberg on her face as she was walking her own dog.

Both the teenager and her mother, who bought the daughter the dog, were each charged with a felony. A judge reduced it to a misdemeanor and dismissed the charge against the mom after Dale-Pincus admitted responsibility for the incident. Rydberg will possibly need more surgeries to lessen the deep scars she has on her face.

An earlier article in the Press Democrat details the physical and emotional trauma Rydberg underwent immediately after the dog attack. A neighbor who saw Rydberg in the ambulance said she would never be able to get that image out of her head. She described how Rydberg was screaming over and over again: “I don’t have a face!”

Animal control officers said it one of the worst dog bites they had ever seen. The bulldog, Denali, was put down soon after the incident, the article said. Based on our firm’s experience with dog attack victims, we understand the pain Rydberg and her family are going through. The money she and her family have received through this settlement will hopefully help comfort them and help Rydberg receive the medical and emotional help she needs.

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