Ocean City pays $13,000 in K-9 bite settlement

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OCEAN CITY — Ocean City has agreed to pay $13,131 to Robert Petnick, who sued the city in 2011 after a police dog bit him, in a settlement agreement signed Dec. 20, 2013.

In 2011, Petnick filed a civil complaint in Cape May County Superior Court against the city and several members of its police department seeking damages for injuries sustained during his arrest in 2010.

According to the complaint, on Feb. 26, 2010, Officer Robert Koob and Sgt. Jon Campo reported to the 2300 block of Simpson and Bay avenues to execute an outstanding warrant on Petnick.

The complaint states that Campo observed an individual running in the alley in that area and engaged in a foot chase. Officers Anthony Fearnhead and John Vogt stopped Petnick with the assistance of K-9 Deuce, it states, and held him at gunpoint. The complaint goes on to state that Koob then dragged Petnick on the alley and that Petnick offered no resistance, but Deuce was released on him by Vogt, biting Petnick’s left hand and fingers, and causing physical and emotional injuries.

Petnick’s complaint claims that the K-9 was released on him with no probable cause, and that the other officers witnessed the action and did not attempt to intervene.

The case was moved to the US District Court in Camden in January 2012.

Petnick was represented by Joseph Grassi and Aaron Penrod of Barry, Corrado, Grassi and Gibson attorneys in Wildwood. Grassi was not available for comment.

The settlement agreement, obtained through an Open Public Records Act request, requires Petnick to give up all claims against the city and includes a confidentiality, non-disclosure and non-disparagement clause.

Last April, the city of Ocean City settled another court case arising from a K-9 bite lawsuit for $60,000.

The suit, Moyer v. Ocean City filed in Cape May County Superior Court in December 2010, alleged that Ocean City Police Officer John Vogt, Deuce’s handler, and Sgt. John Mazzuca responded to a disturbance on Plymouth Place with K-9 Deuce and that the K-9 subsequently bit the plaintiff, Jeffrey Moyer, in the groin and on the shoulder, causing injury. Moyer claimed that he was unarmed and non-violent, and therefore there was no cause for the use of the K-9.

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