A Sylmar man who was mauled by two pit bull terriers last year sued the city of Los Angeles on Friday for releasing the dogs after earlier attacks on neighborhood animals.
Attorney Jeff Zinder said the city knew the dogs were dangerous before they attacked his client, Acension Cervantes, 41, in February 2000.
"They were returned to their owners despite the fact that the dogs had exhibited vicious and dangerous propensities," Zinder said.
A spokesman for the city attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.
The dogs were impounded in February 1999 after they attacked neighborhood dogs, Zinder said. They were impounded again after they attacked a 300-pound pig in November 1999, he said.
Three months later, the dogs tore open Cervantes' scalp and ripped off his left ear as he arrived for work at Valley Crest Tree Co. in Sylmar.
Cervantes, a Mexican immigrant and father of three, was unloading supplies from his truck when the dogs attacked. A nearby truck driver heard Cervantes' screams and called police.
Cervantes has undergone several reconstructive surgeries for his injuries. He is seeking compensation for wage loss, as well as hospital and medical expenses.
The pit bulls were destroyed last year after a hearing that determined they were dangerous to the public.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages.