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$20-million verdict reached in civil case involving fatal Grover Beach dog attack

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Jul 29, 2021

A $20-million verdict was reached Thursday in the civil case against the City of Exeter following a fatal dog attack in Grover Beach in 2016.

A San Luis Obispo County Jury awarded $7 million to the children of David Fear, who was killed in the 2016 attack, and $13.8 million to his neighbor, Betty Long, who survived the attack by a retired Exeter police dog that escaped from a Grover Beach backyard.

Twelve-million dollars of Long's settlement was for mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress. The other $1.8 million was for future emotional and physical damages.

When the verdict was announced, family members for both Long and Fear were overcome with emotion.

Long, now 90, and Fear’s family filed a lawsuit for unspecified damages against the dog's owner and two police departments.

The lawsuit in part claimed that the dog involved in the attack, Neo, should never have been treated as a pet and could not be untrained as a police K9 and should have always been kept in a kennel unless under direct control of Geiger, which the jury found to be true.

The dog was owned by former Grover Beach police officer Alex Geiger, who was criminally charged in connection with the attack but found not guilty.

Geiger, along with the City of Grover Beach, the Grover Beach Police Department, Exeter Police Department and the property owners who rented the house Geiger lived in, were all initially named in the suit.

However, the Grover Beach police chief says the police department and City of Grover Beach were removed from the lawsuit about two years ago.

KSBY has reached out to the City of Exeter for comment and is awaiting a reply.

Jury selection begins in civil case against City of Exeter following fatal Grover Beach dog attack
Testimony underway in civil case following fatal 2016 Grover Beach dog attack