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4-year-old Minnesota girl wins settlement in dog bite case

CLARA CITY -- A 4-year-old girl who suffered severe facial injuries from a dog bite in 2014 has won $150,000 settlement in a personal injury civil lawsuit in Chippewa County District Court against the dog owner.

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CLARA CITY - A 4-year-old girl who suffered severe facial injuries from a dog bite in 2014 has won $150,000 settlement in a personal injury civil lawsuit in Chippewa County District Court against the dog owner.

Alexis Birkeland, of New Ulm, will be paid a lump sum of $20,000 in 2029, when she turns 18 years old.

From then she will receive $10,000 semi-annually over five years, followed by a $52,000 lump sum at age 26. A civil petition written by Birkeland’s mother says the 4-year-old girl and her family were staying at Randy Rethlake’s Clara City home in November 2014 when Alexis attempted to pet and kiss Rethlake’s family dog.

The dog, described as a pitbull, bit Birkeland in the face and neck.

She was transported to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar for treatment.

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Birkeland’s mother Maria Birkeland alleges that the 4-year-old “suffered multiple facial and neck, deep and long, lacerations; including four on the right cheek and one just below the jaw bone on the neck” that “will permanently disfigure her neck and face.”

Though the medical bills were paid by insurance providers and third parties, Maria Birkeland argued the $150,000 was appropriate for the “pain and emotional distress” her daughter experienced following the incident.

Rethlake will also pay $50,000 to Birkeland’s attorney, Schneider and Madsen Law Firm.

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