Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
AIDEN DECH-NOBLE, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
CHRISTINE G. AMMONS, ET AL. DEFENDANTS[Appeal By Stefanie Richardson, Defendant-Appellant]
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT L. Bryan Carr.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES Harvey Kugelman Harvey Kugelman Co.,
BEFORE: Boyle, J., McCormack, P.J., and S. Gallagher, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. BOYLE, J.
Defendant-appellant, Stefanie Richardson, appeals from an
order of the trial court denying her motion for sanctions and
attorney fees against plaintiffs-appellees, Aiden Dech-Noble
("Aiden"), a minor, and his father, Christopher
Noble ("Noble"), after they voluntarily dismissed
her from a civil lawsuit involving a dog- bite incident.
Richardson raises one assignment of error for our review:
The trial court erred in denying the appellant's motion
for attorney fees and sanctions pursuant to [Civ.R.] 11 and
For reasons that follow, we affirm the decision of the trial
Facts Underlying Lawsuit
On June 29, 2014, Noble and his son, Aiden, were with their
dog at a South Euclid dog park when another patron's dog
bit Aiden in the face causing severe lacerations to his nose.
Just before the incident, Noble was talking to Christine
Ammons, who was at the park with her dog, as well as
Richardson, who was also at the park with her two dogs.
Immediately following the incident, the adults were confused
as to which dog bit Aiden because none of the adults present
directly witnessed the dog bite.
Noble and Ammons exchanged information and remained in
contact by email while Aiden received treatment at the
hospital. In an email exchange occurring on the same day as
the incident, Ammons provided Noble with her dog's
veterinarian records showing that her dog, Cliff, was
up-to-date on his vaccinations. Noble thanked Ammons for
being cooperative but noted that his son's injuries were
quite severe and would require treatment by a plastic
surgeon. The following day, Noble reported the dog bite to
local police and filled out a "witness/victim
statement." Noble also filled out an "animal bite
report" with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. In
both reports, Noble stated that Ammons's dog bit his son.
On July 16, 2014, South Euclid police filed a supplementary
investigative report on the incident. In it, the officer
investigating the case noted that Ammons contacted him and
told him that she did not believe her dog was responsible for
biting Aiden. Ammons further stated that there were several
dogs around the boy when the bite occurred and that she was
90 percent sure that her dog did not bite him. Further,
Ammons told the officer that her friend (presumably
Richardson) was at the park with her and also did not believe
it was Ammons's dog that bit Aiden either. The officer
noted in the report that he asked Ammons to tell her friend
that she needed to fill out a witness report.
On July 17, 2014, Ammons and Richardson provided written
statements to the police regarding the incident. Although
Ammons did not deny in her statement that her dog might have
bitten Aiden, Ammons noted that Aiden pointed to several
dogs, including his own dog as the biter, right after the
event occurred. According to Ammons's statement, she gave
Noble her dog's vaccination records because they could
not rule out which dog (either hers or the Noble's family
dog) had bitten Aiden.
Richardson noted in her statement that all three adults were
talking when the bite occurred. By the time Aiden began
crying and they noticed his injury, he was surrounded by all
four dogs, which were of similar size and color. When Noble
asked his son which dog bit him, his son pointed to
Ammons's dog. Noble questioned his son as to whether it
was one of Richardson's dogs, but according to
Richardson, both she and Ammons told Noble that it could not
have been Richardson's dogs because they were sitting
next to Richardson when the bite occurred. Richardson further
stated that she doubted Ammons's dog bit Aiden because
Ammons's dog was used to children. Ammons further noted
that the Noble's ...