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Estate of Portland cougar-mauling victim files wrongful death claim

Wildlife experts say cougars are some of the biggest cats in the world; silent hunters that regularly stalk and kill elk, moose, deer, sheep and mountain goats. There is no doubt that these natural predators are dangerous for humans to be around.

Readers might recall a case outside of Portland in which a 36-year-old animal keeper was killed by a cougar at the suburban wild-cat sanctuary where she worked. She left behind a husband and baby daughter. Her estate has filed a wrongful death claim in Multnomah County District Court against the owners of WildCat Haven and the sanctuary, asking the court to order $6 million in damages.

The woman had worked at the sanctuary for eight years when she was found dead inside an enclosure with two large cats. Sanctuary policy was that employees only enter the enclosures in pairs; however, news reports following her death indicated she was the only employee at the time.

She had also reportedly complained the day before her death to an owner and founder of the sanctuary about safety conditions at the facility.

According to the lawsuit, the owner “reassured her that she would not be left alone with the cats, which would be a violation of WildCat Haven’s protocols, both written and oral.”

The lawsuit cites abnormally dangerous work activities, intentional owner misconduct and Oregon Safe Employment Act violations.

Those who lose a loved one due to another person’s negligence on the road, on the job or on the negligent person’s property should discuss circumstances and evidence with a Portland attorney experienced in these difficult matters.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.