Legal Blog: Kim Richards Loses $1M Court Battle Against Dog Bite Victim Kay Rozario

Posted on May 15 2015 - 10:21am by Stacy Slotnick, Esq.

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May 14, 2015 is a day that will live in infamy – at least for “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” star Kim Richards. On Thursday, a California federal court GRANTED Ellen Catherine Rozario’s (“Kay”) Application for Default Judgment against Defendant Kim Richards. But upon closer inspection, the Order isn’t all doom and gloom for the Bravo cast member, whom we learned on May 14 would be charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest and battery on a cop (all misdemeanors) stemming from her arrest in April at the Beverly Hills Hotel. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for June 11 at the Los Angeles Courthouse.

Legal drama has followed Kim Richards as of late but did she escape this dog bite lawsuit relatively unscathed? Today, headlines saturate the web claiming the RHOBH star lost the $1 million dog bite case.  There is no question Judge André Birotte, Jr. granted Kay’s Application for Default Judgment against Kim Richards but the award for damages was minor. Kim may be breathing a sigh of relief this morning if she has any clue as to what is going on in the civil suit filed against her by Kay. The District Court handed Kim a lifeline by awarding Kay only $8,083.53 in damages.

READ: Legal Blog: Plaintiff Asks Court To Render A Default Judgment Against RHOBH’s Kim Richards For Over $1M!

A quick recap: Kay, Kim’s longtime family friend, sought recovery for the injuries she sustained from Kim’s pit bull named Kingsley.  On March 19, 2014, Kay, her daughter, and Kay’s granddaughter visited Kim at her home. During the course of the stay, Kay alleged that Kim made statements and representations to her that Kingsley was a “sweet, cuddly dog.”  Those depictions evidently caused Kay to feel comfortable being around Kingsley.  The next morning when Kim and Kay were having a conversation in the former’s bedroom, Kingsley, “without provocation,” according to Kay, jumped up from the bed, moved across it and bit her. As the dog continued to attack, Kay twisted and fell backwards on the floor, landing on her back with her head between the bed and the dresser.

Kim Richards_RHOBH

Rule 55(b)(2) governs applications to the Court for a judgment by default. Entry of judgment by default is within the Court’s discretion. A defendant’s default does not automatically entitle the plaintiff to a court-ordered judgment.  However, if you are a Defendant in a civil action, the Court will have little patience for your lethargy, inaction, and refusal to answer Plaintiff’s suit.

Here, the Court noted several times that Kim refuses to respond or otherwise deny the allegations against her.  The reality star that allegedly kicked a police officer in the leg declines to litigate this action. She never filed a responsive pleading or requested additional time to serve her answer. Moreover, the mom who is reportedly in rehab, failed to appear in this lawsuit.  As such, the Court held it was appropriate for the clerk to enter Defendant’s default on April 1, 2015.  Since then, Defendant has not notified the Court or tendered any excuse for her continued absence from this case.  Therefore, no circumstances suggest that Kim’s failure to appear was excusable.  As a result, Kim has made deciding this case on the merits virtually impossible for this Court.

On pg. 4 of its Order, the Court declares, “While the evidence in this case is scant, the Court must take the factual allegations in the complaint as true.”  The Court identifying Kay’s evidence as “scant” speaks volumes. Translation: If the case went to trial based on the evidence Plaintiff presented up to this point, a jury would unlikely have found in favor of Kay because the proof produced was insufficient. 

However, in viewing the merits of Kay’s substantive claim, the Court must take the factual allegations in the complaint as true. Furthermore, while public policy favors deciding cases on the merits, in this case, Kim refused to litigate this action. Thus it determined Kay’s complaint was sufficiently pled and contained merit as to all of her claims EXCEPT her Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress claim since Kim’s conduct was not outrageous. “Actions such as greeting house guests and encouraging the petting of a dog are not the types of acts that are intended to cause emotional distress,” the Court stated on pg. 5.

Game over? Not so fast. The District Court found judgment in favor of Plaintiff should be entered for general damages in the amount of $8,083.53, which covers Kay’s medical bills and then some. One of the most critical aspects of any civil judgment is the award of damages.  Liability has more meaning if there is a substantial damage figure tied to it.  For instance, a court could find Defendant was negligent but if the damages are tiny, defense attorneys will tell you that is a “win” for their client. 

Kay sought “unliquidated” damages and punitive damages totaling $1,050,000.00.  The Court found this amount “excessive when comparing her medical bills which total $4083.53,” see, pg. 5. Moreover, the Court held, “Default may be entered without a hearing on damages only when the amount claimed is capable of ascertainment from definitive figures contained in the documentary evidence or in detailed affidavits,” see, pg. 6.  Therefore, just because Kay says her damages are X doesn’t make X a true reflection of what the Court should award. Granted, $8,083.53 is not an insignificant sum but it is a fraction of the amount pled.

READ: Breaking News: Kim Richards Criminally Charged In Drunken Rampage! Facing 2 Years Jail Time

Considering the evidence Plaintiff has set forth, the Court noted it “exercised its discretion in awarding Plaintiff $8,083.53 in general damages,” see, pg. 7. Here are a few reasons why the $1,050,000.00 figure was tossed:

Generally, a default judgment must be supported by specific allegations as to the exact amount of damages in order to provide defendants notice for the amount sought.  “These claims are difficult to measure,” intoned the Court on pg. 7.

“[I]t would be in Plaintiff’s benefit to provide more evidence then what is before the Court. Plaintiff has only provided a declaration and several pictures in proving up her damages. The only ascertainable amount Plaintiff submitted in her declaration was her medical bills which total $4083.53,” see, pg. 7.

Kay declares that it took her two months to recover from her injuries, but she did not shed light on any economic loss that may have occurred over that two-month span.

Plaintiff also claims to still suffer from back pain and currently has problems gripping her right hand. However, there are no medical files or declarations from her physician with regard to these ongoing injuries.

According to Plaintiff, her mental injuries are ongoing. Plaintiff asserts to be traumatized from the attack and can no longer be in the presence of dogs. Nevertheless, the Court found the extent of her emotional distress is only evident in her declarations. The Court said she has not provided evidence of any therapeutic counseling nor has she cited any other remedial measures she has taken to address these newfound fears.

Considering the meager evidence Kay has set forth for damages, the Court pronounced general damages only were warranted. Although she incurred permanent scarring and still suffers from back pain and problems with gripping her right hand, Plaintiff healed from her other physical injuries in about two-months.

In order to determine whether punitive damages should be awarded, the court considers: (1) the nature of defendant’s acts; (2) the amount of compensatory damages awarded; and (3) the wealth of the defendant.  The Court opined, “Without adequate evidence of Defendant’s wealth or net worth, the Court ‘does not have a sufficient basis to determine the appropriateness of punitive damages,’” see, pg. 8.

Finally, Judge Birotte determined Kay failed to submit any evidence or argument in support of attorney’s fees and costs and appears to have abandoned her claim in this regard.

Simply stated, Kay did not provide adequate evidence or sufficient information to justify an award in excess of $1 million for unliquidated (which is an unfixed sum) and punitive damages.  AATT posters had strong opinions about whether Kay was entitled to $1,050,000.00. It appears the Court sided with those that believed $1,050,000.00 was a deeply bloated and baseless figure. Did justice prevail? Did the law show its mighty force against Kim?

Order Granting Plaintiff’s Application for Default Judgment Against Defendant Kim Richards

Grab your gavel, join the conversation, and tell us whether you think Kim or Kay won after reading the Court’s Order and this blog. 

 

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About the Author

Stacy Slotnick, a.k.a. The Foxy Jurist, holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College. Stacy is the recipient of the Honors Deans Award; Simon and Satenig Ermonian Memorial Scholarship; College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Opportunity Scholarship; and College of Humanities and Fine Arts Scholarship. She is also a William F. Field Alumni Scholar, an honor bestowed upon the most academically distinguished students. In law school, Stacy won two CALI Excellence For The Future Awards® and received an Achievement Scholarship. She is a member of the New York Bar. As an entertainment lawyer, Stacy counsels clients on contracts, branding, and public relations strategy. She negotiates with agents, producers, production companies, and lawyers to secure rights to projects on behalf of high-profile clients. Her clever, spirited, no holds barred legal analysis can be found in articles for The Huffington Post. * Facebook   * LinkedIn   * Twitter

  • Goo Goo G’Joob

    This case seems to be the perfect study of what not to do when one files a civil suit. Too much of her evidence went missing or just wasn’t what it was implied to be. It appears that Kim did get the win and for under $10,000, which is a bargain.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thanks for commenting! Why do you think Kay’s attorneys failed to include evidence of therapeutic counseling, medical files, and proof of economic loss? Did Kay not have it to begin with or was this a case of careless lawyering (as you noted, “what not to do when one files a civil suit”).

      • Goo Goo G’Joob

        I’m still pondering all those questions because I hate to make assumptions without looking at all possible sides of any situation. Yet, when I hire an attorney to represent me for any matter, I expect him/her to be the expert guiding me through the process and advising me along the way as what I need to do and not do during the matter. If I had been Kay’s representation in this matter, I would have requested copies of all pertinent medical documentation, etc. If such did not exist, I would have advised my client that the case seemed to have little merit and needed to be abandoned or rethought, but I cannot see myself going ahead with as little evidence on hand as has been shown available in this matter. Maybe I just expected too much from her legal team…

        • Stacy Slotnick

          “If such did not exist, I would have advised my client that the case seemed to have little merit and needed to be abandoned or rethought…” That statement is perfection and precisely how a counselor should evaluate a case and course of action before filing motions.

          Attorneys are positively gleeful when they walk into court with boxes of documentation justifying a large award demand. You have to dazzle the judge — on an application for default — with evidence of economic loss, physical injury, emotional distress, and numerous medical reports. Apparently Kay did not do this and the judge called her evidence “scant.” That isn’t good. As you say, a lawyer cannot create evidence that does not exist so if there wasn’t supportable documentation to prove a serious injury worthy of filing a $1M lawsuit, you don’t file one. Again, thank you for your wonderful analysis.

          • Goo Goo G’Joob

            I just realized that I was putting myself into Kay’s place and viewing things only from that angle. I’m the client who will ask you if something can be accomplished and I do want your most honest answer – if you say no, we don’t go, not the one who comes in, demanding it to happen no matter what and not listening when you say it’s impossible. Kay may have very well been more the second type of client and pushed for this case to move forward when it lacked a strong pair of legs.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            That’s an excellent perspective. Patients and clients can do their due diligence, ask good questions, and offer their take but at some point, they have to cede some power to a doctor and lawyer because they have studied medicine and law, and ideally will offer their recommendation that is sound and well-reasoned.

  • WaWaWaWHAT!

    Good thing Kim is in rehab, with all this luck she’s had as recent she would have drink herself to a stuper…

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Oh no! No more alcohol or painkillers. So you think Kim got off easy?

      • WaWaWaWHAT!

        Yes she did, Where is the dog now? With a trainer? If so, I wonder if the training is actually working or if this dog is biting people who attempt to approach it…
        I have a feeling the criminal charges will be tossed out too…money talks like someone said before…sad but true

        • Stacy Slotnick

          You are focused on an aspect of the case that is very important but was overlooked by the Court. Where is this vicious dog? Will Kingsley endanger others?

      • Etta Bredeson

        At the time of Kim’s arrest she was on multiple substances. She was Drunk ( duh we all know that ) she was on pills, a controlled substance is likely pot, and a substance called toluene, which is one of the intendants used in the making Meth -Amphetamines !!!! which they didn’t say in the article what it was used for but that is what it is used for.. Did they think people wouldn’t Google it to find out what it was ..

        • Stacy Slotnick

          How do you think, Etta, the issue of substance abuse played into this dog bite attack?

  • Norrth

    Not sure how to feel. While 1 million seems excessive, IMO, the judgment actually feels low. I think some punitive damages are in order. Given the comments, I hope her attorneys aren’t planning to take the money because it sounds like she is going to be left with almost nothing.

    Can this woman appeal based on Kim’s current issues? I would wonder if her state of sobriety potentially played a role in whether she was capable of maintaining the dog’s behavior (assuming it can be proven that Kim slipped out of sobriety at that time). Poor Kingsley.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      What do you think the grounds for an appeal are, Norrth? You believe Kay should appeal this decision and ask an appellate court to reverse Judge Birotte’s award of damages?

      • Jennymckitty

        Did Kay’s lawyers have to push for a judgement since Kim hadn’t responded? If they didn’t, then I have little sympathy for the smaller judgement. The lawyers knew how light their case was and chose to go forward and take a quick and easy win. Being totally objective, I feel this is a fair judgement based on what was presented. It sounds like the lawyers didn’t try to pad their case with a bunch of BS claims. Maybe they felt it wasn’t worth their client’s best interest to pay for a psych evaluation. Wonder why?

        • Stacy Slotnick

          I couldn’t agree with you more. Her lawyers made an informed decision to pursue a default judgment knowing the evidence they had to support their request for unliquidated and punitive damages totaling $1,050,000.00. While it may not have been in the interests of their resources initially to hire a psychologist to perform a consultation and then render findings, the doctor’s fee could have been paid from a future award. There are enough psychologists and psychiatrists who do this all the time. I work with some doctors who don’t practice in the traditional sense of the word anymore — they make a fine living testifying and writing peer reviews. I don’t believe money or inability to hire an expert to testify as to her mental state after the attack would have prevented Kay from getting her legal ducks in a row to show the Court she was emotionally distressed because of the dog bite.

          • Jennymckitty

            Do you think it is because Kay wouldn’t say that this had somehow scarred her emotionally for life? What she was willing to say to a psychologist/psychiatrist wouldn’t amount to enough of a monetary judgement to cover the cost?

          • Stacy Slotnick

            That is an interesting theory. It is possible. It has been my experience clients are all too willing to get tested and speak to doctors and psychologists about their injuries, both physical and emotional. Kay couldn’t diagnose herself so it would have made sense to invest in a consultation and examination.

          • Jennymckitty

            I know some lawyers who would front the money for a psyc eval if they felt it would substantially increase the judgement and their client couldn’t afford it.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            That is a great point. A lawyer just has to be very careful in spelling out how they are covering fees for evaluations, experts, testing, etc. and what the lawyer is paying for and how the client must reimburse him/her.

  • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

    I’m in agreement with Norrth – I felt $1m was too excessive but $8k seems ridiculous. It seems really unfair that Kim can ignore this case and not even bother to respond and then get off so lightly. It’s an even bigger kick in the teeth to Kay that the Court didn’t have sufficient evidence of the Defendants wealth – so by ignoring this it has basically worked in Kim’s favor?
    Also it is possible that the reason Kay has little evidence of therapeutic treatment etc is due to the cost? Kim refused to pay her bills so who knows what financial situation Kay is in that may affect the treatment she received. Kay may also have initially believed Kim was going to take care of her and deliberately tried to keep costs low. Who knows!

    • Stacy Slotnick

      $8K plus is a bargain for Kim. She could have paid a lot more if Kay actually produced evidence of her economic loss, medical files or declarations from her physician with regard to these ongoing injuries, and therapeutic counseling. In short, it seems as though the judge wasn’t buying many of her injury claims. There just wasn’t enough “meat on the bone” to allow the Court to issue a larger award. Kay’s attorneys should have provided all the medical proof to buttress their monetary demand. It is that simple.

      • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

        It really is Stacy. Things obviously work differently here – I know someone that was involved in a car accident that wasn’t his fault. The lawyers for the insurance co were trying to make a big deal out of the fact that he only had one physio session afterwards – he had no health insurance and waiting lists for public appointments can take a year or more! – and when they tried that tactic the Judge was not happy at all – he actually chastised them for expecting a young man on a low income wage with a family to pay for private physio and he awarded in his favor, he definitely took in to account that there was an economic restraint to obtaining further treatment.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Wow. Your story (thank you for sharing) doesn’t surprise me at all. I litigated against insurance companies at the beginning of my legal career representing accident victims and doctors who were trying to collect on their bills from insurers. Every treatment for car accident cases was “excessive” or “unnecessary.” Depending on the insurance company, I could successfully forecast which “defense” they would use. The facts were irrelevant. They summarily denied claims without looking at the case file. They deny claims without reading the medical reports and their own medical rebuttals are hogwash. (I promise to get off my soap box now. That was merely once experience fighting insurance companies on behalf of my clients. There may in fact be much different experiences people have.) I am glad to hear the judge in your friend’s case saw through the insurance company’s tactics.

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            So was he! I hope in this case that Kay wasn’t holding back on racking up big bills because of fear of cost for either herself or Kim if she though she was going to pay initially.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Her attorney I’m sure (hopefully) discussed the issue of the expert’s fees. They normally are paid for their time, which involves time on the witness stand, time they spend in evaluating the case, time spent studying files or reviewing evidence, meeting with lawyers, and sitting around waiting to testify, and sometimes clearing their schedule to be available to testify. Expert witnesses typically are paid by the party for whom they testify so Kay and her attorneys would have had to engage in a thorough examination as to whether they needed more evidence to buttress her award demand.

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            Thanks Stacy! As always your blog and posts are so informative. I wonder how long it was before Kay decided to sue Kim. I wonder if there was much back and forth between then and did Kim blatantly refuse from the outset to pay. It is such a bizarre situation between two old friends.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            That is a great question. Kay was attacked on March 20, 2014. She filed her lawsuit in California federal court on December 12, 2014. Therefore, she waited approximately 9 months before filing suit. Do you think that timeline suggests there was some discussion between Kay and her attorney and/or Kay and Kim to decide on a course of action or resolve the case, respectively? I agree it is a sad situation between two old friends who regarded one another as family. However, Dr. Phil mentioned on his Kim Richards special that addicts don’t often tell the truth and they don’t take responsibility for their actions. Maybe substance abuse was the real culprit behind their relationship breakdown.

            Thank you for saying my blogs and posts are informative. I am very appreciative you feel that way and I am so happy we can educate one another and have a great dialogue. 🙂

          • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

            I do think that it’s likely Kay was trying to resolve this with Kim initially and this was a last resort – perhaps after learning that the dog also bit Alexia she may have felt she had no other option. Kim displays a very entitled and mean streak even when supposedly “sober”, I don’t know whether that is a result of years of substance abuse or whether the substance abuse is a result of some other mental health issue. It’s hard to know with Kim – it’s like the chicken and egg!

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Great points! She blamed her Polo Lounge incident on the harsh twitter comments after watching the RHOBH reunion shows. Deflecting blame is a key indicator of a substance abuser, according to Dr. Phil. (I don’t represent him in the media or in any legal capacity, but some of his remarks I find very honest and forthright.) I agree the timeline between when Alexia was hospitalized for the dog bite and when Kay filed her claim was not a coincidence. The Alexia bite may have prompted Kay to say, “Enough!”

    • dj j

      What I don’t understand is why would Kim not pay for her medical bills and force this poor woman, a long time family friend, to file a lawsuit? If my dog bit one of my guests, I wouldn’t think of not paying for their care. The way Kim dealt with this, and her niece, shows what a despicable human being she is. She can’t blame all of this on alcoholism, because she said she was sober for the 3 years, right?

      • Stacy Slotnick

        Good point. The Court found Kay’s medical bills were “only” $4,083.53. If Kim makes, hypothetically, $40,000 an episode for RHOBH, what is the excuse to not reimburse a longtime friend and second mother for a dog attack you were responsible for? Her kids seem relatively independent. I don’t get it either. The problem is, if Kay had waited to try her case before a jury, juries traditionally award more in damages than a federal judge. Did she do the right thing by filing an application for a default judgment against Kim?

      • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

        It seems ludicrous that someone would do that to an old family friend but I guess having watched Kim now this season we have a real insight in to how she operates. She really is horrible person and has no regard for anyone else’s feelings.

  • Jennymckitty

    I think that had this case actually gone to a jury trial, Kay would have been awarded more money. The judge only took into consideration the facts presented but juries often are emotional thinkers. Kim’s ostrich act may have paid off.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      I completely agree! Perhaps Kay’s attorneys are second-guessing their strategic move to apply for a default judgment. Sometimes plaintiffs are better off going to trial because juries award larger damages than judges. That is a statistic, at least in federal court.

      • Jennymckitty

        Thanks, Stacey. I really enjoy reading your legal articles. Are you going to write one on Kim’s second set of legal problems?

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Thank you, Jennymckitty! It is absolutely delightful to hear you enjoy my legal articles. You made my Friday. 🙂 In terms of Kim’s “second set of legal problems,” are you referring to the criminal charges resulting from the Polo Lounge incident?

          • Jennymckitty

            Oh yes.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            I believe the second bolded blue link above– which will take you to yesterday’s blog on the subject — discusses the charges but if there is anything you would like my opinion on, feel free to toss it my way and hopefully I can answer it.

          • Jennymckitty

            There are reports that say she was not only under the influence of alcohol but controlled substances and toluene. Did they compel her to submit to a blood test to prove she was intoxicated? Is that standard in public intoxication? Is it even true?

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Official court documents said she was found “under the influence of intoxicating liquor and a drug, a controlled substance, and toluene.” Since she was arrested April 16, 2015, on suspicion of being drunk in public, I am not sure which tests were administered, if any. Under California law, if you refuse to submit to either a breath or blood test, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend your driver’s license for a specific period of time but that may be in cases purely related to DUIs.

          • Jennymckitty

            I can understand if she was driving, but this is for public intoxication.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            There is no question Kim could claim there was insufficient evidence that she was intoxicated and/or the police who investigated the charge violated her civil rights (performed an illegal search). In order for you to be guilty in California of public intoxication, prosecutors need to be able to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, both that you were willfully intoxicated in a public place and that you engaged in behavior that meets the legal definition of public intoxication.

          • Elizabeth Fisher

            I second McKitty’s post… I thoroughly enjoy your blog and opinion!!!

          • Babson_Chick

            Ditto that – it’s nice to have a voice of reason with all the madness of the reality “stars”.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Thank you Elizabeth! It is wonderful to connect with you all on AATT.

  • Babson_Chick

    Neither of them could be declared a real winner (in more ways than one) in this case IMO. Great recap Stacy!!

    • Stacy Slotnick

      That seems to be the consensus here (neither party “won”) but if only Kay had gotten this case before a jury we all are left to wonder what kind of monetary award they would have rendered. Thanks for the compliment, Babson_Chick. I’m so glad you enjoyed the recap of the Order. Hope it was helpful in piecing together why the judge only awarded $8,083.53 in damages to Kay.

      • Etta Bredeson

        I think it was totally wrong after Kay pays her lawyers she will have nothing !! I hope she appeals and her lawyers get their act together cause it sounds like they didn’t come prepared with the documents they needs to prove Kay’s case..

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Usually it is the defendant who was defaulted against that tries to vacate a default judgment. On what grounds could Kay’s lawyers move to vacate the default they applied for?

      • Elizabeth Fisher

        Now I’m thinking it was a mistake for Kay to take a default judgment. She should have just waited it out until Kim got out of rehab.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Absolutely. That is the consensus here. Juries routinely award higher damages than judges in federal court cases. Why do you think her attorney applied for entry of a default judgment? What was his strategy?

          • Elizabeth Fisher

            In the 30 years I have been a legal secretary, I have seen two default judgments taken and awarded the full amount – one was a contract dispute and the other was an insurance dispute. I don’t ever remember seeing a default taken in a personal injury case unless it was in city court (i.e. small claims – damages under $20,000). I don’t know what planet Rozario’s attorney lives on if he thought the judge would award $1 million in a default judgment. I “get” that they were probably very frustrated with Kim being as it took them 10 attempts to get her served, and now with her in rehab, blah blah blah. But it, obviously, was a huge mistake to take a default judgment with this judge.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Monetary awards granted in default judgments are within the discretion of the trial court. I’ve seen cases in New York and California where, upon further inspection of the medical bills and defendant’s behavior, the judge awards the entire demand and sometimes more when he/she wants to send a message to the defendant who committed egregious infractions. I think Kay is probably sorry she took her chances with an application for a default judgment instead of getting this case in front of a jury. Thank you Elizabeth!

          • Wendy nickerson gough

            I think they didn’t want it to drag on as Kay is elderly. So they wanted judgment quickly.

      • Babson_Chick

        Kinda hard to call with this mess and you’re welcome. Feel free to call me Babs in the future.

  • WaWaWaWHAT!

    Looks like Kathy will be cutting checks for Kim’s freedom…and civil suit

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Do you think? I suppose $8K plus is just a drop in the bucket at the Hilton household. They probably shell out that much in tips when they drink and dine in Beverly Hills.

  • Chloe

    I feel the judgement is fair for the injuries she sustained. This was far from a mauling where she was almost killed. She did not almost die.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      I think Judge Birotte would agree wholeheartedly with you. His remark? “The evidence in this case is ‘scant.'” Yes, Kay was treated at two hospitals (one in Sherman Oaks and the other in Las Vegas) and she has permanent scarring but the judge just didn’t find enough to support her claims for economic loss and other physical injuries.

      Do you think a jury would have tacked on more in terms of punitive damages to punish Kim who, it could be argued, was severely negligent when it came to the care of her dog around other people?

      • Elizabeth Fisher

        If Kay had tried that case in Louisiana, she would have gotten $200,000 easy (regardless of only $4,000 in medicals). When we aware punitive damages, we mean it.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Don’t mess with the Sugar State. Judge Birotte no doubt severely limited the amount of damages Kim will have to pay. He was crystal clear Kay’s medical bills were only $4,083.53, but said she deserved some additional award above and beyond the $4K plus.

          • Babson_Chick

            Maybe the Judge is a fan of this child star – – ahem.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            AATT posters truly think outside the box and have a heightened sense of understanding the backstory of these cases. This is a celebrity legal case and in some instances, judges will painstakingly “search the record” to ensure high-profile people are not taken advantage of simply because they are wealthy and well-known. I found it telling, in the Court’s discussion of punitive damages, the reason for denial of said damages was “Plaintiff has not presented any evidence regarding Defendant’s wealth to justify an award of punitive damages,” see, pg. 8.

            However, Defendant’s wealth is the last element under California law to determine whether punitive damages are appropriate. The Court could have discussed elements (1) the nature of defendant’s acts or 2) the amount of compensatory damages awarded to justify denial of punitive damages but it made no mention of either. Thanks Babs!

          • Babson_Chick

            Good points as usual – thanks for taking the time to answer. We have some great minds on here – am impressed.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            My pleasure entirely. “We have some great minds on here … ” I concur with that statement wholeheartedly. Thank you again for providing excellent arguments and theories about the case.

          • Babson_Chick

            You’re so welcome – our reality stars keep us entertained for sure. Read that Kim was out (of sober house?) for awhile and that she had already left several times (family affairs?). Also saw that Bravo plans to keep her.

  • CNN

    I have two pit bulls that have never shown aggression or bitten anyone or any other dog and as a responsible pet owner I take precautions to make sure they never will. Large dogs like Kingsley need exercise and stimulation. There are very few bad dogs, but way too many bad owners giving great breeds a bad name.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thanks for your insight. Did Kim get off easy with this judgment?

  • Etta Bredeson

    I also have a Pit and she is kind, loving, smart and loyal .. She loves to cuddle, give kisses and even hug but they have to know who is the leader of the pack they need lots of exercise and stimulation is a must… Anyone know what really happened to Kingsley ?? is someone hiding him ?? I can’t see Kim putting him down.. Which he didn’t deserve, she is the cause of his behavior. Who knows what she did to him when she was wasted….

    • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

      I read that Kim moved just immediately prior to going in to “rehab”. I wonder if this was because she still has Kingsley and wants to hide him or maybe the landlord doesn’t want the dog in the house after all this negative publicity?

      • Stacy Slotnick

        Kim seemed more broken up on the reunion episodes that Kingsley wasn’t living with her anymore than she was about Kingsley attacking her niece (Kyle’s daughter).

        • TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes

          Definitely. She was also very cagey about where he was exactly. She really tried to garner sympathy by trying to pass Kingsley off as poor sick dying Monty’s dog. She likes to portray a ditzy kooky away-with-the-fairies type but she is actually very calculated and sneaky.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Love the use of language, TheBeverlyHillsHaveEyes. What must be upsetting to Kay when she woke up today is knowing that her anguish, pain, and the legal headaches were only worth $8,083.53.

      • Etta Bredeson

        Have you seen the article with the pictures of Kim’s house with the dog shit and filth all over the house ?? Poor Kingsely never had a chance with Kim as his owner….

  • DSS

    I do not watch this show and dont know much about the people. I dont need too!!!!
    I only read this cause Stacy has great posts that make ya go Hmmmmmmm

    She was bitten
    She should have doc bills taken care of
    She should be paid for anytime loss at work
    Any lawyer fee that apply should be handled
    THENNNNNN she should be award $$ for pain suffering but NOT that much!!!!

    Ok ok I dont know how much is enough or too much but the awarded amount feels high.
    The knocked down amount, if I read it all right seems fair (ish)
    Honestly I feel personally like it could be more but not 6 or 7 figures. Thats crazy

    3 weeks ago I was walking my dog on the sidewalk and we walked our route we always do and there was a recently shaved dog laying at the edge of the sidewalk tied to a tree.
    It whipped its head around and my dog chomped down on its back and just held it there. I tried to pry my dog loose and couldnt. A neighbor I dont know KICKED my dog (I almost punched him later) and finally got my dog loose.
    The other dog turned and bit me!!!!! Lots of blood and holes and teeth marks!!!!
    The dog was up on its shots and it was a neighbor, even tho we only say hi in passing.
    I knew if I went to the doctors it gets reported to animal control and then police.
    I wanted to be a good neighbor and felt S-L-I-G-H-T-L-Y responsable for the incident.
    I never even got a knock on my door to see if I was ok as I did go check on their dog. It needed stapled for the holes from my dog. I almost wondered if they were going to try and hand me the vet bill. I probably would not have acted as friendly 🙂

    Anyway, initial award was too much. Thanks for explaining it all Stacy!!!!

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thank you so much, DSS, for taking the time to provide such an in-depth analysis as well as personal story. I must say at the outset, I LOVED your very kind, energetic, and complimentary remarks. Full disclosure: It totally brightened my day!

      Do you think if it was a jury versus a judge deciding the case the damages awarded would have been different? The personal incident you described from three weeks ago is wild. Are you recovering alright? Please make sure you take care of your health first and ensure there are no infections. I’m so sorry you had to endure that experience.

      • DSS

        Of courseeeeeeeeeeeee a jury would award more. Dont they always???
        I think she got sooooooooooooo lucky by not replying!! WOW. I know people do that but it just shocks me everytime. It all kind of fell in place playing STUPID. (I heard she was lol) But in this case it worked. And the girl would have gotten more with more documentaion!!!!!! I think she felt it was bad enough being bitten by a “scary” breed of dog and bleeding that it warrented a huge $ amount. I get that. I Just dont agree with that. And as a person owned by their dog, to us, there is no scary breed. All dogs can bite….. just like people.
        You cant tell by looking at them………… or people

        Thanks again for the read Stacy! Yes, recovering well. Didnt miss work. Adult beverage as medicine for the working musician.

        Hope your weekend stays brightened!!!

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Glad you are doing better. Have a fantastic weekend as well!

          Yes, if Kay submitted evidence of her economic losses, medical files, declarations from doctors regarding her ongoing injuries, the extent of her emotional distress, and Kim’s net worth for punitive damage purposes, Kay would be in a very different financial situation today. That is assuming Kay can speedily collect on the award. Who knows whether Kim will pay this judgment without 1) appealing it or 2) ignoring it for awhile or until the sheriff comes after her.

  • Jennymckitty

    Stacey, one last question. Was this failure to answer a thought out legal maneuver attempt to force a judgement from a judge rather than a jury or just dumb luck on Kim’s part? I don’t think they could have gotten a plea deal or jury judgement for that low amount.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      You can ask as many questions as you want and I will try and answer them all! That is a very interesting theory and if Kim had her wits about her and was that prudent, I would say, perhaps. I think she got lucky that Kay did not submit the medical reports and economic details Kay needed to justify the $1M plus demand. If Kim had spoken to an attorney with a pulse, he/she would have counseled her to respond to the complaint. You can’t refuse to appear or respond to a lawsuit. When you do, a judgment will be entered against you. As a strategy, it wouldn’t have been smart for a lawyer to tell Kim to refrain from answering the complaint. Do you think Kim was shrewd enough to foresee the events transpiring as they did and therefore knowingly used it as a strategy?

      • Jennymckitty

        I don’t think Kim is smart enough to come in from the rain. Did The production company have access to all the evidence…the totality of the medical reports being presented…since they were being named in the suit?

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Evolution wouldn’t have seen Kay’s medical reports and other proof yet because discovery did not occur at this very early stage in litigation. There was not even a schedule created for when depositions would be taken.

          • Jennymckitty

            Thanks, Stacey. I guess it’s true. God looks out for children, drunks and fools.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            You are welcome. That is some philosophy — but as you say, very apropos under the circumstances.

  • Thank you for a very informative blog, Stacy. I do feel sorry for this poor woman but I feel she was awarded the proper compensation to fit her claims. Anyone who has ever been bitten by a large, powerful breed can attest to how scary it feels to have their teeth sink into YOUR skin. That said, the breed of the dog IMO is not the significant factor here. It’s the fact Kingsley’s owner (Drunk Kim) was the real problem. Unfortunately pits get a bad rap, since any breed would probably react aggressively under similar conditions.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Excellent. You are quite welcome, Seusseroo. I’m so pleased you found the blog informative! Thanks as always for your wonderful comments and support. Your point regarding how a dog bite can be extremely scary is well taken. Here, Kay claimed she “bled profusely from the dog bites” and she thought she was going to bleed to death. It is indeed VERY frightening. What do you think the judge was most persuaded by in awarding Kay only $8K out of a pleaded $1M in damages?

      • Thanks Stacy. I believe the judge took into consideration her medical bills and time away from work.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Good point. The judge methodically reviewed her injuries on page 2 of the Order, and noted that her medical bills total $4,083.53 so he did award damages above and beyond her medical bills. He also stated, “The Court does find this amount [$1,050,000.00] excessive.”

  • So Kim is the textbook study on how not to win a case. She is a failure to not only herself and her family, but to Kingsley, as well. I’m not saying that to be mean, but it’s the truth. She only cares about Kim. She only cares about herself. Bravo should get rid of her as she’s no longer an asset, but a liability.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thanks for the comments, Breanna_Monique. There has been so much chatter surrounding whether Kim will be asked back. Brandi has spoken out about Kim’s status as a cast member. Do you think her presence on the show is good for ratings?

      • As long as there is controversy, there is an audience for that. Sadly, many people want to see a train wreck, and Kim and her sobriety issues are coming full speed at each other on the same track. This can’t end well.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Do you think she is taking rehab seriously?

          • Absolutely not, especially if she’s staying somewhere that has been described as the “Four Seasons” by her “good friend” Brandi.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Good call. Brandi said it was “Really nice” rehab. “This Is the Four Seasons or something!” I wonder if Brandi said as much to seem provocative or relevant. As Dr. Phil told Kim, she needed to put in the time, dedication, focus, and hard work to get better.

      • Miss SuzyQ

        Stacy – any insight on potential liability Bravo/Producers may have by continuing to have Kim on the show? Kim has alluded to the feedback from the show contributed to her “slip”. I can’t speak for everyone however I fast forward through the Kim and Brandi segments.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          They wouldn’t be liable. A couple of reality TV stars in the early 2000s tried to claim the network caused them to suffer emotional distress and in the majority of cases it didn’t work and/or the parties settled so a judge never ruled definitely on the subject. Nowadays, the contracts between the network and “talent” are pretty clear you cannot sue because the talent is aware of the risk of mental distress. Good question!

          • Miss SuzyQ

            Thanks!

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Anytime Miss SuzyQ! Hope you had a good Wednesday.

  • ♥♥♥ Tigerlily ·.¸¸.·*¨·.·.¸¸.

    I feel bad for both Ms. Rozario & Kim’s niece Alexia. This should have never happened the first time nevermind a second incident. Kim is an irresponsible person on all accounts & unfortunately Ms. Rozario, Alexia & Kingsley are going to pay the heaviest price for her foolhardiness. Kim shouldn’t even be left to care for a colony of ants. Who on earth believes she can be responsible for such a large & powerful breed of dog.
    Shame on you Kim. Once again your “me, me, me” attitude has cost others dearly!

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Clearly Kim has acted irresponsibly in the dog bite attacks involving Kingsley. Judge Birotte could have sent a message to Kim that her negligent behavior would no longer be tolerated but he didn’t. He said Kay didn’t provide information as to Kim’s net worth to allow the Court to award punitive damages but why do you think the Court didn’t award punitive damages? “Kim shouldn’t even be left to care for a colony of ants.” I love your poetic words. Hope you have a fabulous weekend too and thanks as always for terrific support and great posts.

  • Babson_Chick

    Don’t know why Kim got a Pit in the first place – this isn’t a lap dog and she had no control at all with him. Saw someone I know post pics on FB before and after surgery after her Pit, which she had raised from a puppy, bit her several times on her face. She was very upset but had her dog put down. Kim seems like a very needy person to me which is so sad and this whole lawsuit is another mess which she seems to be ignoring. IMO Kim doesn’t need to be on a reality show.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      And of course she deflects and shows more emotion about Kingsley than her niece who was bitten. You would think Kathy Hilton, who was reportedly out celebrating Brooke’s bridal shower with Kim, would tell her to answer the suit or pay for her legal counsel to avoid a default judgment. But maybe you cannot parent a sibling like Kim.

      • Jennymckitty

        Well, her daughter ended up in jail because she didn’t fulfill the requirements of her probation, so there’s that.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Wow. Apparently the bridal shower for Kim’s eldest daughter was held at sister Kathy Hilton’s home. I wonder if the shower cost more than $8K.

      • rasta

        Maybe she got that “killer dog” to protect her from her new choices of co enablers like that scum she adopted off the street. Who knows WHAT he did to her when cameras weren’t there. I can’t stand pit bulls and Kingsley has proven time and again that HE is the man of that house. He’s a liability to her family and would be visitors. Who would want to drop by? This also enables her to know she will not be followed up on sobriety if home visits are required. Whatever happened to the $100k required insurance for owning this killer breed? Just a potential fail all around, and mostly for herself.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          That is a fascinating theory. Keep visitors, care workers, and family away (and their prying eyes and recommendations) by having this known vicious pet in your home. California allows breed specific (pit bulls included) ordinances pertaining to mandatory spay/neuter programs and breeding requirements.

      • Babson_Chick

        If my dog had bitten anyone I’d be very upset but with Kim who knows – she continues to swim in the Sea of Denial

  • Just a jersey girl

    Stacy, wow again a great blog. What I find interesting Kim’s daughter seems to have had more distress fromm her bite than Ellen. she had to loose a. A semester of college due to her injury. Kim cannot take care of herself never mind a dog like a Pitt. I think thev amount wear ded was fair.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      I am always very appreciative of your comments and lovely support for all things AATT legal! Do you mean Alexia Umansky had to miss college to recover from her dog bite? I’m sure if the Umanskys sued Kim that would be time of death on the Kim/Kyle relationship — not that their bond is that solid nowadays anyway.

  • She Codes

    This is a great blog. If the plaintiff had her ducks in a row, she probably would have received much more. Kim should thank her lucky stars.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thank you! I think your assessment of the case is dead on. The Court was explicit in labeling Kay’s proof “scant” and noted she provided no basis for an award of punitive damages. Kim definitely lucked out. It is ironic Kay claimed Kim failed to timely answer the complaint while slowing down the clock could have enabled Kay the opportunity to provide evidence of her injuries and economic losses. Sometimes there shouldn’t be a need for speed in litigation.

  • itsjustme

    I would have to say Kay’s lawyer certainly wasn’t doing his/her job. If Kay was claiming all of these ongoing ailments, mental and physical,, shouldn’t the lawyer have made CERTAIN that Kay had all of the medical records to substantiate her claims in her declaration to begin with?
    In light of the lack of evidence I personally think the judge had no other alternative but to give the final judgment she did.
    I don’t feel Kay should have ever gotten over a million dollars. But I do believe Kim dodged a huge bullet THIS TIME! I think she better make CERTAIN in the future that NO ONE besides herself has any access to Kingsley because I have no doubt this could happen again and she may not be so lucky next time. Not to mention any future victims may not get away with “just” a hand injury.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Judge Birotte found that the amount claimed was not capable of being ascertained from definitive figures contained in the evidence or in the affidavits Kay presented. Kay’s lawyer may have thought the evidence he presented was sufficient to justify the $1,050,000.00 demand or he could have assumed the judge would have been so incensed by Kim’s inaction that an application for a large punitive damage award would be granted. Every detail from medical bills for treatment, prescriptions, ongoing therapy, etc. must be included in your proof when demanding a default judgment based on a negligence theory of the accident as well as lost income and future loss of earnings. Emotional distress must be established and valued too. At this stage in the litigation, the Court found “Plaintiff’s tort claims are not easily ascertainable, especially her emotional distress claims,” see, pg. 6. Thank you for commenting! Many posters felt exactly the same as you — Kim dodged a huge bullet.