ELYRIA — Brent Kandra’s mother has sued the estate of exotic animal owner Sam Mazzola and the owner of his Columbia Township compound over the fatal mauling of her son by one of Mazzola’s bears two years ago.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, asks for more than $50,000 in damages for the wrongful death of the 24-year-old Kandra and survivorship benefits for his next of kin.
Despite the request for damages, Deirdre Herbert, Kandra’s mother, said she doesn’t expect a windfall from the lawsuit because Mazzola had financial problems at the time of his death last year and had repeatedly filed for bankruptcy protection.
“It’s never been about the money,” she said. “Nothing’s going to bring him back.”
The point of the lawsuit, she said, is to keep the dangers of owning exotic animals alive in people’s minds.
“I want to keep showing there’s serious consequences to owning these animals,” Herbert said.
Lorain County Sheriff’s Detective Mike Lopez’s report concluded that Kandra was feeding the bear outside its cage on Aug. 19, 2010, when the animal attacked.
At the time of the attack, Mazzola was in another part of the compound feeding other animals and he said that he had rushed to help Kandra. The report, however, said that Mazzola gave conflicting stories about what happened.
The mauling happened around 7:30 p.m. and Kandra was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where he died around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 20, 2010.
An autopsy determined he had roughly 600 separate wounds and died from “multiple blunt impacts and sharp force injuries of the head, torso and extremities.”
Since her son’s death, Herbert has become an advocate for stronger regulations of exotic animals.
She pushed for stricter controls over exotic animal ownership that take effect in Ohio next month. The law bans new purchases of exotic animals and requires the owners of such animals to obtain permits by 2014.
The lawsuit contends that Mazzola didn’t have sufficient safeguards to prevent the attack that killed Kandra and that the slain man hadn’t been properly trained by Mazzola on how to deal with the wild animals in his compound, which now is owned by William Arroyo.
In addition to bears, Mazzola also owned wolves, tigers, coyotes, raccoons and a lion. He long maintained that he took care of his animals and that he took precautions to protect those who interacted with them.
Mazzola died in July 2011 after asphyxiating on a foreign object in his airway. He had asked a teenage friend to shackle him to his bed and was wearing a mask when he was discovered by the same teen the next day.
Mazzola’s death officially remains under investigation.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.