Attorneys for Chris Brown want a Los Angeles judge to toss out a lawsuit filed by a housekeeper who claims his dog violently attacked her sister, arguing that she has no grounds to sue for emotional distress because she “did not see” the incident herself.
Patricia Avila claims that she’s suffered post-traumatic stress since witnessing the bloody 2020 incident, but Brown’s lawyers argued Wednesday that the lawsuit would only be valid if Avila personally observed the actual attack.
Though Avila has claimed she could “hear her sister’s screams” and ran outside to discover her “covered in blood,” Brown’s attorneys said she needed to have “contemporaneously perceived” the actual mauling to win in court.
“Plaintiff was working inside the house and was not present when her sister allegedly was injured in the backyard,” wrote Kenneth G. Ruttenberg, the singer’s lead attorney. “She only heard the dog barking and her sister screaming. She then ran outside to perceive her injured sister. Since plaintiff was not present and did not see the dog allegedly attack and injure her sister, plaintiff has no claim.”
Avila sued last year over the alleged December 2020 attack in which Brown’s dog, a Caucasian Shepard Ovcharka, attacked her sister Maria. She says she discovered her sister with bites to the face and “3 to 4 inches of skin missing” from her arm – and that she “thought her sister was going to die that day because of the amount of blood loss.”
The lawsuit was filed by Patricia over the mental harm caused by the attack, not by her sister over the physical harm. It’s unclear why the actual attack victim has not sued. Instead, the suit claims that Brown’s negligence inflicted emotional distress on Patricia, causing her to suffer PTSD, weight loss and other problems.
“Plaintiff was reluctant to leave her home and could not stop re-living the pain that she experienced as she watched her sister suffer through that horrendous attack that day,” Avila’s lawyers wrote in their complaint.
But in Wednesday’s response, Brown’s attorneys argued that a “crucial element” in proving such cases is to have actually seen the incident in question. They said “perception even a few moments later will not count.”
“Because Plaintiff was not an immediate bystander to the alleged attack on her sister, all three of Plaintiff’s negligence claims fail,” the singer’s lawyers wrote.
They also asked the court to dismiss the case for a simpler reason: that Avila was an employee of Brown and should have pursued her case via the state workers compensation system, not through a civil lawsuit.
An attorney for Avila did not immediately return a request for comment on Thursday.