Singer/songwriter Burt Bacharach, 90, and his wife reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed against the couple by a man who alleged their dog attacked him, causing permanent hand injuries, while he was pet-sitting for them in 2016.
Lawyers for 74-year-old plaintiff Joel Gayner, whose finger had to be surgically reattached, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yolanda Orozco on Thursday that the case was resolved, court papers show. No terms were divulged.
But in their court papers, the Bacharachs say Gayner has known the dog Alfie, who is now about 9 years old, since he was a puppy and still has feelings for the animal despite the bite.
Gayner lived in an apartment in 2016 and Jane Bacharach allowed him to look after Alfie in the couple’s home, which has a large backyard and a pool, the Bacharachs’ court papers stated.
Bacharach decided to name his pet “Alfie” for the 1966 Michael Caine film and song of the same name that he co-wrote with Hal David, “because I think it’s a great song, one of the best I’ve ever written, and I thought this dog deserved a really great name,” according to the couple’s court papers.
Bacharach is considered by many in the music field as one of the most important composers of 20th-century popular music. Other songs co-written by Bacharach include “The Look of Love,” “This Guy’s in Love with You,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and “That’s What Friends Are For.”
Gayner sued the Grammy- and Oscar-winning composer and his wife, Jane, in March 2017, alleging strict liability, premises liability and negligence.
The Bacharachs argued that the plaintiff knew what he was getting into when he took the job of looking after their dog, Alfie.
“When plaintiff assumed and undertook the responsibility of caring for Alfie while the Bacharachs were in Europe, plaintiff also assumed the risk that Alfie may bite him,” according to the Bacharachs’ court papers. “The risk was inherent in plaintiff’s role as Alfie’s caretaker and negated the Bacharachs’ duty to protect him from harm.”
The plaintiff agreed to look after the couple’s Portuguese Water Dog — the same breed owned by former President Barack Obama when he was in the White House — at the Bacharachs’ Pacific Palisades home while they were in Europe, according to his court papers. He says he did not receive any compensation.
Gayner said that on the morning of July 1, 2016, he awoke to the sound of the dog choking and “losing control of its bowels,” and dislodged pieces of a yellow plastic bone that had gotten into the animal’s throat.
A short time later, Gayner approached the dog to comfort it and the canine “snapped at Gayner and mauled his left hand, as well as injuring his forearm,” according to his lawsuit.
Gayner was taken to a hospital, where doctors reattached the middle finger of his injured hand. His index finger on the same hand was “amputated” by the dog, and doctors had to use a skin graft from his groin to reattach missing portions of the digit, the suit stated.
The plaintiff has permanent damage to both fingers and limited use of his left hand, according to his court papers, which alleged that that Bacharachs knew Alfie was a danger but accepted no blame other than to say they were “so sorry.”
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