$3.5M settlement reached in Dayton dog mauling death

More than six years after Klonda Richey’s dog-mauling death, her estate and attorneys are set to receive a $3.5 million settlement after the expected approval of final funds by Montgomery County commissioners next week.

A commission vote Tuesday will avoid a trial and draw to a close a wrongful death lawsuit the Dayton woman’s estate brought against the county and Mark Kumpf, its former dog warden.

“This lovely lady passed away. You never get over that,” said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge. “But it has been dragging on for a while … Nobody wants to go through a trial.”

Dodge said the settlement should bring “peace to the family and some closure.”

Richey’s estate claimed that her death was preventable had the county’s Animal Resource Center, led by Kumpf, been responsive to 13 complaints Richey made to that agency about neighbors’ dogs that eventually killed her on Feb. 7, 2014, leaving her torn and naked body in the snow to be found by a passerby.

Montgomery County Probate Court Magistrate David Farmer approved the settlement and distribution of wrongful death and survivor benefits earlier this month.

Probate Court Judge Alice McCollum upheld Farmer’s decision to distribute the settlement funds accordingly:

  • $53,785.36 to counsel of record for suit expenses advanced;
  • $1,400,000 to counsel of record for attorney fees;
  • $1,023,107.32 to wrongful death claims to be split equally between Klonda Richey's siblings, Ted Richey of Indianapolis and Linda Roach of Homosassa, Fla.;
  • $1,023,107.32 to survivorship claims also to be divided between Ted Richey and Roach.

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Klonda Richey’s siblings are entitled to recover damages as a result of her death, according to Chris Jenkins, a Cincinnati attorney representing her estate.

“They suffered immense damages as a result of the loss of their sister,” Jenkins wrote to the court last month. “The evidence is clear that Ms. Richey experienced prolonged conscious pain and suffering prior to her death.”

Richey, then 57, was found that morning dead outside her 31 E. Bruce Ave. house in sub-freezing temperatures. When police responded to the scene, nearby dogs charged them and were shot and killed.

The lawsuit, filed in 2015, claimed Kumpf failed in his duty to enforce existing laws and did not seek to obtain a dangerous dog designation that may have given Richey some protections from her neighbor’s mixed mastiffs.

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If the county had designated the dogs as “dangerous,” protections could have included a higher fee for her neighbors, Andrew Nason and Julie Custer, to register the dogs and require them to provide evidence of additional insurance, the lawsuit argued.

In an updating of the lawsuit in 2018, Richey’s estate sought damages from the county Animal Resource Center based on the alleged destruction of potential evidence in the form of the county records, according to court filings.

Animal Resource Center truck logs from 2013 and 2014 — in the period just preceding Richey’s death — had been destroyed in 2017, according to a handwritten list produced by ARC supervisor Robert Sexton in a March 2018 deposition. Those logs tracked center officer responses to calls and complaints about dogs.

“There is no dispute that they were destroyed. There’s really no dispute that the destruction was wrong, that it shouldn’t have happened,” Jenkins said earlier.

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The county fired Kumpf in December 2018 but continued to defend its former dog warden in the Richey lawsuit — even throughout a termination complaint Kumpf had filed with Ohio against the county.

Montgomery County spent up to another $40,000 on outside counsel to settle the employment dispute with Kumpf five months after his firing. The county agreed to pay him 17 weeks of salary and provide a neutral reference letter. Last September, he was hired as animal control director of Detroit earning a $100,000 annual salary. His annual salary for 2018 in Montgomery County was $86,611.20, according to county payroll records.

Kumpf and the county are defendants in another case still pending. Lindsey and Josh Glowney filed a lawsuit in 2018 after their dog “Dyson” was euthanized at the Animal Resource Center in 2016 five days after being taken from their Kettering yard.

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In May 2015, the couple whose dogs killed Richey were sentenced to perform hundreds of hours of community service.

Andrew Nason and Julie Custer were sentenced in Dayton Municipal Court after both pleaded no contest and were each found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of failure to control dogs.

A judge sentenced Nason to 150 days in jail, 500 hours of community service, a $500 fine and court costs. Custer was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 480 hours of community service, a $200 fine and court costs.

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Richey was so scared of the dogs she had installed a fence between the two houses, put up a security camera to monitor when the dogs were off leash and sought a civil protection order against Nason, which was denied, court records show. She also had made numerous other calls to the county dispatch system, the suit claimed.

The county carries liability insurance that will cover most of the $3.5 million settlement. The county commission vote Tuesday is for the amount of $332,130.75 reflecting the balance of a $500,000 deductible for which the county is responsible, according to the county.

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In addition to the large settlement and resources used by the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office, county commissioners have approved at least $325,000 since September 2015 for the services of Michael Sandner, an attorney with Pickrel, Schaeffer & Ebeling, to defend Kumpf and county offices from actions arising from Richey’s death, county records show.

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