DULUTH – The City Council unanimously voted Monday night to approve a settlement agreement paying $50,000 to a woman who was bitten by a police dog at a motel in Warroad in 2018.
Teri Ehlers, who worked for the Patch Motel in Warroad, was attacked by the German shepherd while making housekeeping rounds, according to a lawsuit filed against the city of Duluth and former Police Officer Marc Johnson in 2019.
According to the complaint, the motel has a no-pet policy, but Johnson and his father made a reservation saying they would be accompanied by a service dog. The off-duty officer arrived with Oakley, his K-9 police partner.
Oakley bit Ehlers' right thigh when she entered the Johnsons' room and did not let go until the officer intervened. Her complaint said she did not provoke the dog, though the city argued in a response that Ehlers' "negligence, acts or omissions caused or contributed" to her injury.
The LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau treated Ehlers' wounds, which the complaint said remained painful and discolored for more than a month.
Ehlers sued the city and Johnson for liability and negligence, seeking $50,000 plus expenses for each of three counts.
The settlement agreement "forever discharges" Johnson and the city from any claims, demands or causes of actions related to the incident. It also includes a disclaimer saying the payment is "not to be construed as an admission of liability."
A police spokesperson on Tuesday said neither Johnson or Oakley faced internal discipline for the incident. Johnson voluntarily left the agency in 2019, and the dog retired from the force at the same time.
Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478