Tahoe tourist who was startled by bear in dumpster is now suing

A Lake Tahoe tourist who opened a dumpster and found a bear is now suing over injuries he said he suffered while trying to flee.

The man filed a complaint Thursday in Nevada’s Washoe County that names as defendants an Incline Village condo association and the garbage collection company Waste Management.

According to the account in the document, the man and his wife, who live in Davis, had rented a cottage in the Incline Crest condo complex on the week of Labor Day 2019. The bear encounter occurred when the man was walking his dog on the grounds.

The man approached the trash bin to dispose of a bag of dog droppings and “had to fiddle” with the latch, the account says. “Once Plaintiff was able to open the latch, he was immediately confronted by a bear who was in the dumpster,” it continued.

In his haste to get away from the bear, the man stumbled and fell, twisting his left ankle, he said. The bear climbed out of the dumpster, “loitered” for several minutes and then walked into the nearby forested area.

A few days later the man was diagnosed with a torn Achilles tendon, which required surgical repair. Several months after that, he had back surgery, which he said was also because of an injury caused by the fall.

The heart of the suit is the man’s contention that the dumpster’s allegedly bear-proof latch was defective and that neither the condo association nor Waste Management did anything about it until after his injury. The complaint says that the complex’s year-round residents were aware of the issue but that the plaintiff had not been warned.
The man is seeking $15,000 in compensatory damages, plus unspecified punitive damages and court fees.