TALLAHASSEE – A Florida legislator has been sued over his pet dog biting someone in the face at a restaurant near the state Capitol.
Christopher Kent filed a lawsuit last week in Leon County against Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. Gaetz is the son of Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and recently held a lengthy legislative hearing over a proposal to repeal the state’s contentious “stand your ground” law.
Kent’s lawsuit alleges that Gaetz’s dog bit him last May. The lawsuit contends the dog bite left Kent in pain, disfigured and with injuries that ultimately forced him to withdraw from law school. He said part of the reason he quit the University of Michigan is that the treatment has forced him to take antibiotics that cause stomach problems.
The lawsuit asks for payment of medical bills and damages connected to the bite, but it does not list an amount.
Gaetz on Monday acknowledged that his dog, Scarlet, did bite someone. Gaetz said he does not know the dog’s breed because he rescued the 55- to 60-pound dog from a shelter about six years ago.
But he said he was unaware of the lawsuit until reached by a reporter. He said that he thought Kent’s attorney was trying to discuss the issue with his insurance company.
Gaetz would not discuss any details about what happened.
“We have a system that allows the courts to make those decisions,” said Gaetz, who is chairman of the House Criminal Justice subcommittee.
David Frank, the attorney representing Kent, declined to answer questions about the lawsuit.