One man’s rubbish is another bear’s treasure, and the resulting shock is not fun for either, a new lawsuit says.
A California tourist has filed a claim against a Nevada condominium group, alleging he was injured after being startled by a dumpster-diving bear.
The lawsuit claims the bear got inside the rubbish skip due to a faulty latch, and lunged at the man when he opened the bin.
Bears are commonly seen near Lake Tahoe where the incident allegedly occurred.
The condominium association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
John Donaldson of Davis, California, was renting a flat in Incline Village in 2019 when he says he went to throw away dog waste in a dumpster provided by the condominium complex.
His lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges that he “had to fiddle with the defective and malfunctioning latch before opening it”. And inside, he found the bear.
Mr Donaldson’s lawyers say he was “startled” by the bear, which caused him to twist his ankle and fall to the ground. He later required surgery to his Achilles tendon and his spine as a result of the fall, the lawsuit says.
He argues that Waste Management of Nevada failed in its responsibly to provide a wildlife-proof waste receptacle, and allowed the damaged latch to go unrepaired for months. The agency declined to comment on the suit.
Mr Donaldson also accuses the managers of the Incline Village homeowners group of failing to inform renters of the faulty dumpster latch.
“It is well known and established that Incline Village, as well as other parts of Lake Tahoe, has a serious and persistent bear problem, predominantly trash-related,” the lawsuit states.
Mr Donaldson is seeking $15,000 (£11,000), as well as compensation for his legal costs.
It is now up to the courts to determine whether the lawsuit has any teeth – or if it’s barely a case.