By Jaya Saxena, Gothamist
A woman attacked by stray dogs on the Rockaway boardwalk in 2001 is suing the city, claiming they created a breeding ground for the vicious dogs by letting them feed on garbage in a city-owned vacant lot. Marlene Fils-Aime attempted to rescue Lev Liberman when she found him being attacked by two Rottweilers, a pit bull and two mutts on December 26th, 2001. The dogs gnawed off his ears, part of his scalp, and left him legally blind. Fils-Aime's lawyer, Robert Danzi, wrote in court papers, "The dogs did not fight with each other over Ms. Fils-Aime, they worked together to attack her and shared her body among themselves." She suffered extensive arm and leg injuries.
Danzi claims that the dogs were "acting like a wolfpack," and blames city for not heeding complaints from locals about the group. Danzi writes, "City-owned vacant land adjacent to the boardwalk—over-grown refuse-strewn lots, unsecured garbage dumps, and other conditions which, by providing food, shelter, freedom and an ability to roam unrestrained over many square blocks constituted the perfect crucible for the development of socially efficient packs of marauding dogs." The city allegedly responded to complaints by returning the dogs to their owner—a local homeless man.
Liberman won $3 million in a 2007 settlement, but must be cared for by an around-the-clock aide because of his injuries (distressing photograph of Lieberman's injuries here). His daughter says Fils-Aime deserves at least as much. "She saved my father's life. When the ambulance came, she even said take this man first, then me," she said. "This is the city's fault. No one could believe this could happen in NY. How could wild dogs attack people in NY?"