road rage; dog; sued; libel; prison

Dog Killed Due To Road Rage

Dog Killer Sues Victim

It was a rainy February day in San Jose, CA when the worlds of Sara McBurnett, her little bichon frise Leo, and Andrew Burnett collided. The traffic, as anyone who drives knows, can become congested and rather messy once it starts to rain. That is especially true in California. Road rage can ignite quickly, and a small accident or fender bender can put some people completely over the edge. That seems to be what happened to Andrew Burnett in 2000.

What Happened?

Sara McBurnett was driving near the San Jose Airport and accidentally bumped into Burnett’s bumper. This was when he lost his temper. They pulled off to the side of the road. It’s likely that McBurnett assumed they would exchange insurance information. However, that’s not what happened at all.

Burnett got out of his vehicle and walked to McBurnett’s car where he started to yell at her, his anger growing as he did so. During his tirade, he saw that a small dog, Leo, was in the vehicle. He reached inside and grabbed Leo from out of the driver’s lap. He then hurled the dog into oncoming traffic, where Leo was struck by a vehicle. McBurnett got out of the car to grab the dog and then drive him to the vet, but he died of his injuries along the way.

This was certainly a sad outcome to something that could have been entirely avoided if Burnett had not been so hotheaded, and he was sent to prison in 2001. He was convicted of felony animal cruelty and was sentenced to do three years in prison for his deeds. While this seems like it should be the end of the story, it wasn’t, unfortunately. Two years after being in prison, Burnett thought that he should sue McBurnett.

Why Did Burnett Try to Sue?

Andrew Burnett, the man who tossed a dog into traffic, decided that he should file a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle who tapped his bumper, as well as the San Jose Mercury News for over $1 million. He said that McBurnett had defamed him in the media, and he claimed that the newspaper had printed libel about him knowingly. It does take a certain amount of audacity to want to sue someone for talking about actions that you actually committed, but he did so anyway.

There have been many frivolous lawsuits in the past that have somehow gone to trial and allows the plaintiff to win large sums of money. Fortunately, this was not one of them. A judge who examined the lawsuit threw it out.

The concept of a lawsuit is a good one. It can allow for people who have been truly wronged or injured, for example, to act against those who caused them harm. It can provide them with financial restitution that they need. However, all of those frivolous lawsuits, such as this cruel man’s suit, can tarnish the views that people have when they hear the word lawsuit.