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Lawsuits & Litigation

Woman Who Was Attacked By Cat Sues the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki

— November 5, 2019

A woman who was attacked by a cat while dining is suing the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki.

Leslie Mansfield, a California resident who enjoys running a Napa Valley winery and writing cookbooks filed a lawsuit against the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki after her foot was allegedly attacked by a cat. Eventually, the bite marks caused a rare, incurable condition known as host versus graft disease, prompting Mansfield to file the suit.

Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach; image courtesy of Cristo Vlahos via Wikimedia Commons,

The incident occurred in September 2015 when Leslie and her husband were visiting the Outrigger Canoe Club to celebrate the end of her leukemia treatments. In the middle of having lunch at the club’s Hau Terrace restaurant, a cat suddenly jumped from a nearby bush and attacked her foot. Mansfield said, “all of a sudden I felt this unbelievable sharp, excruciating bite…Within a week it was worse and the bite marks were black and it was really frightening.”

According to the lawsuit, the infection from the bite continued to worsen and eventually she “began to develop lesions in her mouth, on her skin, and throughout her body.” She said, “the lesions in my mouth are so swollen around my tongue and cheeks I have deep crevasse-like cuts in the roof of my mouth.”

How did a simple cat bite get so infected, though? Well, because Mansfield had “recently undergone a stem cell transplant, the bite compromised her immune system.” According to Mansfield, who had stem cells donated from her brother, “doctors told her that when she got bit by the cat, those cells not only began attacking the pathogens introduced by the cat but they also started to attack her system.”

As a result, Mansfield experiences regular painful flares that leave her exhausted and unable to do much of anything. Her quality of life has been diminished and she blames the Outrigger Canoe club that harbored the cat.

When commenting on the matter, attorney Jim Bickerton who is representing Mansfield said, the cat “spent its entire existence on those premises. It wasn’t a stray that lived somewhere else and came visiting. This was home for this cat.” He added that under Hawaii law, the “club is not only responsible for the cat bite but it’s also responsible for the subsequent damage to his client’s immune system.” He said, “if someone has very brittle bones, for example, and they take a small fall…You or I might just fracture a bone or not even have a fracture but they have fractures in 20 places. The person who caused that fall owns all of the damage.”

In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the club said, “The health, safety, and well-being of all of our members, guests and staff are of primary importance to the Outrigger.”

The suit is expected to go to trial next August.


Lawsuit: Cat bite at Outrigger Canoe Club caused woman’s rare disease


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