Dangerous Dog: Related Cases
|Zuniga v. San Mateo Dept. of Health Services (Peninsula Humane Soc.)||267 Cal.Rptr. 755 (1990)||
In this California case, the owner of a dog that had been seized pending criminal dogfighting charges sought a writ of mandate challenging a county hearing officer's decision finding that puppies born to the dog while she was impounded were dangerous animals. The trial court denied the writ. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that there was insufficient evidence that the puppies were “dangerous animals." The evidence received by the hearing officer relates mainly to appellant's actions and his mistreatment of the parent animal, and the only evidence relevant to the puppies' “inherent nature” was the observed aggressive behavior toward each other while caged together and certain possible assumptions about their nature from the condition and use of their mother.
|Zelman v. Cosentino||22 A.D.3d 486 (N.Y. 2005)||
A repairman was knocked over by a dog while working on a telephone line in the neighbor's yard. The repairman brought claims against the dog's owner under under theories of strict liability and negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the dog's owner and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
|Yuzon v. Collins||10 Cal.Rptr.3d 18 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.,2004)||
In this California case, a dog bite victim sued a landlord, alleging premises liability in landlord's failure to guard or warn against tenants' dangerous dog. On appeal from an order of summary judgment in favor of the landlords, the Court of Appeal held that the landlord owed no duty of care, as he had no actual knowledge of dog's dangerous propensities and an expert witness's declaration that the landlord should have known of the dog's vicious propensities was insufficient to warrant reconsideration of summary judgment ruling. The landlord's knowledge that tenants may have a dog because it is allowed through a provision in the lease is insufficient to impute liability where the landlord has no knowledge of any previous attacks or incidents.
|Youngstown v. Traylor||123 Ohio St.3d 132, 914 N.E.2d 1026 (Ohio,2009)||Defendant was charged with two misdemeanors after his unrestrained Italian Mastiff/Cane Corso dogs attacked a wire fox terrier and its owner. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him, arguing that YCO 505.19(b) is unconstitutional and a violation of his procedural due process rights. The Supreme Court of Ohio held that the Youngstown municipal ordinance was constitutional because it was “rationally related to the city's legitimate interest in protecting citizens from vicious dogs,” provided “the dog owner with a meaningful opportunity to be heard on the dog's classification,” and did not “label dogs as dangerous or vicious” solely based on their breed type.|
|Wyno v. Lowndes County||331 Ga. App. 541, 771 S.E.2d 207 (2015), cert. denied (June 15, 2015)||Victim was attacked and killed by her neighbor's dog. Victim's husband, acting individually and as administrator of his wife's estate, brought action against dog owners and several government defendants, whom he alleged failed to respond to earlier complaints about the dog. The trial court dismissed the action against the government for failure to state a claim, concluding that sovereign and official immunity or, alternatively, the Responsible Dog Ownership Law (OCGA § 4–8–30), barred action against the government defendants. Husband appealed. The appeals court held the trial court did not err in dismissing the action against the county and its employees in their official capacities. The former version of OCGA § 4–8–30, effective at the time of the attack, provided immunity to local governments and their employees from liability for all injuries inflicted by dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The appeals court held that the trial court erred in dismissing the action against the employees in their individual capacities based on official immunity, however. By applying the former OCGA § 4–8–30 (2012) to dismiss the action against the employees in their individual capacities, the trial court implicitly rejected the husband’s constitutional challenge to the statute. Judgment was therefore affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded to the trial court to enter a ruling specifically and directly passing on the husband’s constitutional challenge.|
|Wyno v. Lowndes County||824 S.E.2d 297 (Ga., 2019), reconsideration denied (Mar. 13, 2019)||Misty Wyno was attacked and killed by a neighbor’s dog. Her husband, Jason Wyno brought a wrongful death action against the dog’s owners, Lowndes County, and four individual Lowndes County Animal Control employees. Jason alleged that Lowndes County and the County Employees negligently failed to perform ministerial duties, negligently failed to provide police protection, negligently created and failed to abate a nuisance, were negligent in their control of allegedly dangerous dogs, and were negligent per se by violating several provisions of the Lowndes County Animal Control Ordinance. Jason also alleged that the County Employees acted with actual malice and/or an intent to injure by repeatedly refusing to investigate or take any action with regards to the dangerous dogs. Lowndes County asserted sovereign immunity as a defense for both itself and its employees. In addition, Lowndes County and the County Employees asserted that they were immune from liability due to the provisions of the Dangerous Dog Control Law in effect at the time. The trial court dismissed the suit against the employees in their individual capacities finding that the Dangerous Dog Control Law barred an action against any party except the dog’s owners. The Supreme Court of Georgia ultimately held that the record was devoid of any evidence that any of the County Employees acted with malice or the intent to harm Jason or Misty Wyno to defeat official immunity. Jason, therefore, did not satisfy his burden and the Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.|
|Wright v. Schum||781 P.2d 1142 (Nev.,1989)||
In this Nevada case, an eleven-year-old boy who was a passerby was bitten by a dog. The jury found the owner liable, but trial court judge dismissed the landlord as a defendant. The Supreme Court found the landlord in this case could be liable under general tort obligations because he voluntarily undertook a duty to secure the neighborhood from harm by the dog after he made the tenant promise not to allow the dog outside unless chained. Thus, material questions of fact remained that precluded summary judgment as to whether the landlord breached his duty of care to the public where he allowed the tenant to remain with the dog and then failed to repair the gate that allowed the dog to escape and injure the plaintiff when it was left unchained.
|Williams v. Spinola||622 P.2d 322 (Or.App., 1981)||
Defendant appeals from a judgment entered on a jury verdict awarding plaintiff $3,600 in compensatory and $4,000 in punitive damages for the unlawful killing of plaintiff's dogs. Defendant contended at trial that the dogs were trying molest her sheep. With regard to defendant's claim on appeal that punitive damages were not appropriate in this case, the court agreed that the issue should not have been submitted to the jury. The court affirmed the jury's finding with regard to denial of defendant's directed verdict, and reversed the award of punitive damages.
|Williams v. Hill||658 So.2d 381 (Ala.,1995)||
In this Alabama case, a motorcyclist and passenger were injured when they collided with defendant's dog while traveling on public roadway and brought an action for damages. The Circuit Court, Elmore County granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and the motorcyclist and passenger appealed. The Court held that there is no recover at common law, as no negligence was shown. The Court would not accept the proposal that all owners should be charged with the knowledge that dogs will chase cars. “We hold that the owner of a dog may not be charged with the general knowledge that all dogs chase motor vehicles, and therefore that the law will not impute such general knowledge to dog owners in actions for injuries incurred. We, therefore, affirm the defendant's summary judgment.”
|Williams v. Galofaro||79 So.3d 1068 (La.App. 1 Cir. 11/9/11)||
Housekeeper tripped over the family dog, sustaining injuries. She and her husband sued homeowners and their insurer for damages. The Court of Appeal found for defendants, holding that the dog did not pose an unreasonable risk of harm because plaintiffs did not show that the risk of injury resulting from puppy-like behavior multiplied by the gravity of the harm threatened outweighed the utility of keeping the dog as a pet.
|Wilkison v. City of Arapahoe||926 N.W.2d 441 (Neb.,2019)||Brooke Wilkison (Brooke) got an American Staffordshire Terrier (pit bull) in 2015. In 2016, the city of Arapahoe passed an ordinance regarding dangerous dogs which contained a restriction on owning a Rottweiler or an American Staffordshire Terrier within city limits. The ordinance allowed for dogs licensed prior to January 1, 2017 to be grandfathered in as acceptable. Brooke did not have his dog licensed prior to the that date. Law enforcement told Brooke he could not keep the dog. Brooke filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction to prevent Arapahoe from implementing and enforcing the ordinance. The trial court found for Brooke and Arapahoe appealed. Arapahoe's first assignment of error is that the court erred by applying the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to the ordinance. The Court found that Arapahoe was not exempt from the strictures of the FHA. Arapahoe's second assignment of error was that the Court erred by enjoining enforcement of the ordinance against Brooke because Brooke's accommodation is not reasonable and necessary. The Court found that Brooke failed to meet his burden of proof that his requested accommodation is necessary for him to receive the same enjoyment from his home as a non-disabled person would receive. Brooke already owned another dog and the ordinance only covered certain dog breeds. Brooke's other claims for relief were remanded to the district court. In conclusion, the district court erred in entering a declaratory judgment and enjoining Arapahoe from enforcing the ordinance as applied to Brooke.|
|White v. Vermont Mutual Insurance Company||106 A.3d 1159 (N.H., 2014)||This is an appeal brought by Susan and Peter White to a declaratory judgment that her son, Charles Matthews, was not covered under Susan's homeowner's insurance policy with the respondent.The incident that led to this case involved Matthews' dog causing injury to Susan while at the home covered by the policy. The policy covered the insurer and residents of their home who are relatives, so Susan attempted to collect from Vermont Mutual for the damage done by the dog. However, her claim was denied because Matthews was deemed to not be a resident of the home. This court affirms.|
|White v Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y||138 A.D.3d 1470 (N.Y. App. Div. 2016)||Plaintiff, Rosemary White brought action against the Defendant, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church seeking damages for injuries she sustained when she was bitten by a priests’ dog, at premises owned by the church. White brought the action claiming negligent supervision and retention of the priest who owned dog. The church moved to dismiss, and White moved for summary judgment. The New York Supreme Court, Erie County, granted the church's motion for dismissal, and denied White’s motion. White appealed and the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the church was not liable for negligent supervision or retention of the priest. The Appellate Division, reasoned that the Supreme Court, Erie County, properly granted the church’s motion to dismiss White’s complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Court stated that to the extent White alleged a theory of negligent supervision and retention of the priest in her bill of particulars, the “purpose of the bill of particulars is to amplify the pleadings . . . , and [it] may not be used to supply allegations essential to a cause of action that was not pleaded in the complaint.” Therefore, the order from the Supreme Court was affirmed.|
|Whelen v. Barlow||1975 CarswellAlta 242||
Plaintiff Whelen was drunken, threatening and disorderly in defendant Barlow's hotel bar, where he kept guard dogs for the purpose of preventing break-ins and keeping the peace. After the plaintiff and friends were asked to leave the premises and not return, he later returned, making threatening gestures and was bitten on the face and arm by one of the guard-dogs. The court held that the plaintiff was 2/3 contributorily liable for his injuries, since when he returned he was trespassing; the defendant was 1/3 contributorily liable since the court held that keeping volatile guard-dogs as bouncers was not reasonable.
|Westberry v. Blackwell||577 P.2d 75 (Or. 1978)||
In this Oregon case, plaintiff filed this action to recover for personal injuries sustained when she was bitten by defendants' dog. The complaint alleged a cause of action for strict liability and another for negligence. The trial court granted a judgment of involuntary nonsuit on both causes of action. On appeal, this court found the previous biting, which had occurred only one hour before, could reasonably lead a jury to believe that the dog had dangerous propensities, and that the defendants had knowledge of them. Thus, the court found that the involuntary nonsuit on the strict liability cause was improperly granted. Further, the question of whether the owner, who knew the dog had bitten the guest while on her way into the owner's house, was negligent in failing to control or confine the dog, was for the jury. Reversed and remanded.
|Weigel v. Maryland||950 F.Supp.2d 811 (D.Md 2013)||
Following the Tracey v. Solesky opinion, a nonprofit, nonstock cooperative housing corporation issued a rule that banned pit bulls on its premises. Members and leaseholders who owned dogs believed to be pit bulls sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the corporation and the state of Maryland in an amended complaint. Although the district court found the plaintiffs had adequately demonstrated standing and ripeness in their claims, the court also found that some of the leaseholders and members' charges were barred by 11th Amendment immunity and by absolute judicial immunity. Additionally, the district court found that the leaseholders and members' amended complaint failed to plead plausible void-for-vagueness, substantive due process and takings claims. The district court, therefore, granted the state's motion to dismiss and held all other motions pending before the court to be denied as moot.
|Webber v. Patton||558 P.2d 130 (Kan. 1976)||
Veterinary costs and consequential losses are also allowed in determining damages, according this Kansas case. It should be noted that the animal at issue here was a domestic pig versus a companion animal, and the award of damages was secured by a statute that allows recovery for all damages for attacks on domestic animals by dogs.
|Webb v. Avon|| EWHC 3311||This case addressed the power of the court to make a contingent destruction order under Section 4B of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (as amended). These orders allow dangerous dogs to be released and kept under strict conditions. The court held that the 19991 Act is not clear as to the breadth of who these conditions apply to, but considered that dangerous dogs may only be released to their owners or other persons properly identified as being in charge. The case was remitted to the Crown Court for further determination. The court also addressed other aspects of the 1991 Act along with the Dangerous Dogs Exemption Schemes (England and Wales) Order 2015.|
|Watson v. State of Texas||369 S.W.3d 865 (Tex.Crim.App. 2012)||
Defendants were convicted of attack by dog resulting in death (Tex. Health & Safety Code § 822.005(a)(1)) after a 7-year-old was killed by several of defendants' pit bull dogs. On this appeal, appellants contend that the statute fails to define the terms “attack” and “unprovoked,” and that it fails to specify what conduct is prohibited, resulting in arbitrary enforcement. Thus, jurors could have determined different definitions of the elements of the offense, violating the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas and United States Constitutions. The Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, finding, "[t]he statute contains objective criteria for determining what conduct is prohibited and therefore does not permit arbitrary enforcement." The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Court of Appeals decision stating that the Dog Attack statute did not violate Due Process and that the defendants' convictions did not violate the unanimous jury guarantees of the Texas or the U.S. constitution.
|Waters v. Powell||232 P.3d 1086 (Utah Ct. App., 2010)||
In this Utah case, defendant Powell took his dog to a kennel managed by plaintiff Waters to be boarded for a few days. Waters took the dog to a play area to be introduced to the other dogs where the dog bit Waters. Waters filed a complaint against Powell alleging that he was strictly liable for the injury the dog inflicted. On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals held that Waters was a "keeper" of the dog for purposes of the state's dog bite statute (sec. 18-1-1). Waters essentially conceded on appeal that if she is a keeper then she is precluded from asserting a strict liability claim against Powell. Thus, the district court's denial of summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded with instructions that Powell's summary judgment motion be granted.
|Ward v. Hartley||895 A.2d 1111 (Md.App., 2006)||
In this Maryland case, a dog bite victim filed a negligence and strict liability action against the dog owners and their landlords. In plaintiff's appeal of the trial court's granting of defendant's motion for summary judgment, the appellate court held that the landlords had no control over the premises where the "dangerous or defective condition" existed and thus had no duty to inspect. The court found that first, no statute, principle of common law, or provision in the lease imposed upon the landlord the duty to inspect the leased premises to see if a vicious animal was being kept. Second, there was no evidence presented that, at the time the lease was signed by the landlord, he knew, or would have had any way of knowing, that a vicious animal was to be kept on the premises.
|Warboys v. Proulx||303 F.Supp.2d 111 (D. Conn. 2004)||
Pitbull owner filed suit seeking compensatory damages arising from the shotting and killing of his dog by police. Defendants removed the action based on federal question jurisdiction and moved for summary judgment, and the dog owner moved to amend the complaint. Motions granted.
|Wade v. Rich||618 N.E.2d 1314 (Ill.App. 5 Dist.,1993)||
Plaintiff sued dog owners for injuries from a dog attack. The jury ruled in favor of plaintiff for medical expenses, and plaintiff sought a new trial as to damages only. The court held that a new trial on damages was appropriate because the jury's failure to award damages for pain and suffering was against the manifest weight of evidence as defendant's liability was established by the viciousness of the dog repeatedly biting plaintiff about the head and face, which was out of proportion to the unintentional act of plaintiff falling onto the sleeping dog. Unintentional or accidental acts can
|Vukic v. Brunelle||609 A.2d 938 (R.I. 1992)||This case involves a defendants' appeal from a judgment entered in the Superior Court wherein the dog officer of the town of Lincoln was found to have negligently destroyed a Great Dane dog and her pup. The court held that the Rhode Island statute that mandated an officer kill a dog at large preempted the local ordinance that allowed impoundment. Despite the dog owners' arguments that the statute was outdated and archaic, the court refused to invalidate it. It thus reversed the jury award to the dog owners.|
|Vosburgh v. Kimball||285 A.2d 766 (Vt. 1971)||
This case involves an action by a dog owner against farmer for wrongfully impounding dogs and against town constable for wrongfully killing the dogs. The Vermont Supreme Court held that farmer had acted in a reasonable and prudent manner by contacting the constable, where he never intended to "impound" the dogs when he secured them overnight in his barn after finding them in pursuit of his injured cows. However, the issue of whether the dogs were wearing a collar as required by state law precluded the granting of a directed verdict for the constable. (Under state law, a constable was authorized to kill dogs not registered or wearing a prescribed collar.) The court held that it was necessary for the jury to make this determination.
|Volosen v. State||192 S.W.3d 597(Tex.App.-Fort Worth, 2006)||
In this Texas case, the trial court found Appellant Mircea Volosen guilty of animal cruelty for killing a neighbor's dog. The sole issue on appeal is whether the State met its burden of presenting legally sufficient evidence that Volosen was "without legal authority" to kill the dog. By statute, a dog that "is attacking, is about to attack, or has recently attacked ... fowls may be killed by ... any person witnessing the attack." The court found that no rational trier of fact could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the dog was not attacking or had not recently attacked chickens in a pen in Volosen's yard; thus, the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that Volosen killed the dog "without legal authority" as required to sustain a conviction for animal cruelty. Judgment Reversed by Volosen v. State , 227 S.W.3d 77 (Tex.Crim.App., 2007).
|Volosen v. State||227 S.W.3d 77 (Tex. Crim. App., 2007)||
Appellant killed neighbor's miniature dachshund with a maul when he found it among his chickens in his backyard, and he defends that Health & Safety Code 822 gave him legal authority to do so. At the bench trial, the judge found him guilty of animal cruelty, but on appeal the court reversed the conviction because it found that the statute gave him legal authority to kill the attacking dog. However, this court held that appellant did not meet his burden of production to show that the statute was adopted in Colleyville, TX and found as a matter of fact that the dog was not "attacking."
|Volosen v. State||227 S.W.3d 77 (Tx.Crim.App. 2007)||
The appellant/defendant mauled a miniature dachshund to death after the dog entered a yard where the appellant kept his chickens. The State of Texas prosecuted the appellant/defendant for cruelty to animals on the ground that the appellant/defendant killed the dog without legal authority. The appellant/defendant, however, argued that section 822.033 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, an entirely different statute, provided that authority. After the appeals court reversed the district court’s decision to convict the defendant/appellant, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found that the appellant/defendant had failed to meet his burden of production to show the applicability of his claimed defense and thus reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case back to that court.
|Vanater v. Village of South Point||717 F. Supp. 1236 (D. Ohio 1989)||
Village criminal ordinance, which prohibited the owning or harboring of pit bull terriers or other vicious dogs within village limits, was not overbroad, even though identification of a "pit bull" may be difficult in some situations, as there are methods to determine with sufficient certainty whether dog is a "pit bull.".
|Van Kleek v. Farmers Insurance Exchange||857 N.W.2d 297 (Neb., 2014)||Plaintiff agreed to watch a couple’s dog while they were out of town. While plaintiff was caring for the dog, the animal bit her on her lower lip. Plaintiff filed a claim with the couple's insurance company. The insurance company rejected the claim because the plaintiff was also "insured," defined to include “any person ... legally responsible” for covered animals, and the policy excluded coverage for bodily injuries to "insureds." Plaintiff filed an action for declaratory judgment against the insurance company, seeking a determination that the policy covered her claim. The insurance company moved for summary judgment, and the district court sustained the insurance company's motion, reasoning that plaintiff was “legally responsible” for the dog because she fed and watered the animal and let it out of the house while the couple was away. The Supreme Court of Nebraska affirmed and held the insurance company was entitled to summary judgment.|
|University Towers Associates v. Gibson||846 N.Y.S.2d 872 (N.Y.City Civ.Ct. 2007)||
In this New York case, the petitioner, University Towers Associates commenced this holdover proceeding against the rent-stabilized tenant of record and various undertenants based on an alleged nuisance where the tenants allegedly harbored pit bulls. According to petitioner, the pit bull is an alleged “known dangerous animal” whose presence at the premises creates an threat. The Civil Court of the City of New York held that the landlord's notice of termination did not adequately apprise the tenant of basis for termination; further, the notice of termination and the petition in the holdover proceeding did not allege objectionable conduct over time by the tenant as was required to establish nuisance sufficient to warrant a termination of tenancy.
|Turner v. Ferguson||--- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 97526 (E.D. Wis. Jan. 7, 2020)||On March 5, 2017 Lori turner was attacked by her neighbor’s (“Arndt”) dog which required her to receive 11 staples to close the wound on her scalp. She also suffered bites on her shoulder and wrist that would later require surgery. Pursuant to local regulations, the neighbor’s dog was quarantined for a ten-day period. Lori mentioned to officers that the City of Gelndale had recently enacted an ordinance that allowed for an officer to declare a dog vicious which then required the owner of the dog to adhere to certain requirements like securing the dog in a kennel when it was outdoors and maintaining liability insurance for dog bites. On March 14, 2017, Officer Ruppel issued a citation to Ardnt under a Glendale ordinance for damage caused by dogs, however, he did not declare the dog vicious under the vicious-dog ordinance. Officer Ruppel reasoned during deposition that he chose not to do so because he considered Ardnt grabbing the dog by the neck and Lori walking up and petting the dog (prior to Ardnt’s action) provocation. Lori filed suit against the officers she interacted with over the course of the next year claiming that the officers denied her equal protection of the law by refusing to declare Arndt’s dog vicious and by failing to protect her from loose dogs in the neighborhood. Lori had repeatedly contacted the police department over the course of a year about how she did not like the outcome of her dog bite case and about loose dogs in the neighborhood. Lori specifically alleged that the officers treated her with animus. The Court ultimately found that the evidence in the record did not support a class-of-one equal protection claim. Officer Ruppel’s decision to not declare Ardnt’s dog vicious was supported by a rational basis. Additionally, no evidence existed that suggested that the Glendale police department intentionally and irrationally treated Lori’s complaints about loose dogs in the neighborhood differently than it treated similar complaints by other citizens. The Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted.|
|Trautman v. Day||273 N.W.2d 712 (N.D. 1979)||
In Trautman v. Day, 273 N.W. 2d 712 (N.D. 1979), defendant shot plaintiff’s dog when it ran through defendant’s herd of cows. The court affirmed a verdict of $300 for plaintiff’s dog. In addition, the Court declined to apply the defense of immunity based on a statute concerning the “worrying of livestock.
|Tran v. Bancroft||648 So.2d 314 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.,1995)||
In this Florida case, a tenant's next-door neighbor, who was bitten by tenant's dog when it leaped over fence and then attacked the neighbor on property not owned by landlord, brought a personal injury suit against the landlord. The appellate court upheld a motion of summary judgment in favor of the defendant non-owner. The court found that t he existence of a duty in a negligence action is a question to be decided as a matter of law. Although the so-called "dog bite" statute, section 767.04, Florida Statutes (1993) controls actions against a dog's owner, actions against a non-owner must be brought upon a theory of common law liability. Essentially, a landlord has no duty to prevent injuries to third parties caused by a tenant's dog away from leased premises.
|Trager v. Thor||516 N.W.2d 69 (Mich.,1994)||
In this Michigan case involving an action for damages after personal injury, the father of the dog’s owner was visiting his son's home when he agreed to supervise the dog while his son and daughter-in-law went shopping. The n eighbor’s child was subsequently bitten by the dog, which had been put by defendant into a bedroom. This court held that the defendant, as a temporary caretaker of the dog, could not be held to the strict liability standard of an owner keeper, but could be liable under theory of negligence. Thus, a genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether the father was negligent in fulfilling his duty of care in supervising the dog, which precluded summary judgment in a negligence action.
|Tracey v. Solesky||Not Reported in A.3d, 2012 WL 1432263 (Md.,2012)||
In this Maryland case, the Court of Appeals establishes a new standard of liability for a landlord who has knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull dog and also modifies the common law liability as it relates to the pit bull breed of dogs. In doing so, the Court now holds that because of the "aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflect serious and sometimes fatal injuries," pit bull dogs and cross-bred pit bulls are now categorized as "inherently dangerous." Upon a plaintiff's sufficient proof that an attacking dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix, a person who knows that the dog is of the pit bull breed, including a landlord, is strictly liable for damages caused to the plaintiff who was attacked. The case was remanded to trial court with this modification to common law. This opinion was Superseded by Tracey v. Solesky , 427 Md. 627 (Md., 2012).
|Tracey v. Solesky||50 A.3d 1075 (Md., 2012)||
In this Maryland case, the Court of Appeals establishes a new standard of liability for a landlord who has knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull dog and also modifies the common law liability as it relates to the pit bull breed of dogs. In doing so, the Court now holds that because of the "aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflect serious and sometimes fatal injuries," pit bull dogs and cross-bred pit bulls are now categorized as "inherently dangerous." Upon a plaintiff's sufficient proof that an attacking dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix, a person who knows that the dog is of the pit bull breed, including a landlord, is strictly liable for damages caused to the plaintiff who was attacked. The case was remanded to trial court with this modification to common law.
|Town of Ogden v. Lavilla||185 A.D.3d 1414, 126 N.Y.S.3d 832 (2020)||This matter involves an appeal of an order for euthanasia of respondent's dog. The Justice Court of the Town of Ogden found respondent's dog to be dangerous under Agriculture and Markets Law § 123 and ordered the dog to be euthanized. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department agreed with respondent that the lower court misapprehended and misapplied the law. The court found the power to apply the most drastic measure (euthanasia) under Section 123 is reserved for aggravating circumstances, namely a serious disfigurement. The court noted that emotional trauma is not a factor in determining whether a victim has been disfigured. In addition, the language of the law is permissive, not mandatory; even with aggravating circumstances, a court may direct other measures to keep the dog contained. The court noted that the lower court repeatedly misstated the law, saying it only had two options, euthanasia or permanent confinement. As a result, this court modified the by vacating that part affirming the order of the Justice Court insofar as it directed that respondent's dog be euthanized, and remitting to the Justice Court for a determination whether petitioner established the existence of an aggravating circumstance and for the imposition of remedial measures as permitted by statute.|
|Toledo v. Tellings - Reversed - 871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007)||Slip Copy, 2006 WL 513946 (Ohio App. 6 Dist.), 2006-Ohio-975||
Reversed - 871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007). In this Ohio case, defendant, who owned three pit bull type dogs, was convicted in the Municipal Court of violating city ordinance limiting ownership to only one pit bull per household, and of violating statute requiring owner of a "vicious dog" to provide liability insurance. On appeal, the court held that the statute requiring an owner of a pit bull to provide liability insurance was unconstitutional. Further, the statute, which provides that the ownership of a pit bull is prima facie evidence of the ownership of a vicious dog, was unconstitutional because after hearing evidence the trial court found that pit bulls as a breed are not inherently dangerous. Thus, the court held that R.C. 955.11(A)(4)(a)(iii) is unconstitutional, since it has no real and substantial relationship to a legitimate state interest.
|Toledo v. Tellings||871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007)||
In this Ohio case, the defendant, who owned three pit bull type dogs, was convicted in the Municipal Court, Lucas County, of violating the Toledo city ordinance that limited ownership to only one pit bull per household. On appeal by the City, the Supreme Court found the state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens against unsafe conditions caused by pit bulls. The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that pit bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens. The statutes and the city ordinance are rationally related to serve the legitimate interests of protecting Ohio and Toledo citizens.
|Tighe v. North Shore Animal League||142 A.D.3d 607, 36 N.Y.S.3d 500 (N.Y. App. Div. 2016)||In May 2012, Tighe adopted a dog from the North Shore Animal League after having been warned that the dog was possessive regarding food. After taking the dog home, Tighe noticed that the dog exhibited aggressive behavior, such as jumping at the backyard fence and growling at her when she attempted to feed the dog. In July of 2012, the dog bit Tighe’s hand when she tried to pick up a cookie off of the floor. As a result, Tighe spent three days in the hospital due to severe blood loss and swelling. Additionally, in September of 2012, the dog bit Tighe in the face causing severe injuries. After the incident in September, Tighe filed suit against the North Shore Animal League to recover damages for negligence, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court dismissed the claim of emotional distress but granted summary judgment in favor of Tighe with regard to the other claims of negligence. The North Shore Animal League appealed the lower court’s decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of New York overturned the lower court’s decision and granted summary judgment in favor of the North Shore Animal League on all claims. The court found that the North Shore Animal League was not a proximate cause to Tighe’s injuries for failing to adequately warn her about the dog’s aggreesive behavior because Tighe learned of the dog’s aggressive behavior three months prior to the incident that caused Tighe’s injuries. According to the court, once Tighe learned of the dog’s aggressive tendencies, she was in the best position to take “precautionary measures to prevent harm to herself.” So, even if the North Shore Animal League had failed to warn Tighe of the dog’s aggressive tendencies prior to the adoption, Tighe “independently” learned of the dog’s aggressive behavior prior to the incident which eliminated the North Shore Animal League as being a proximate cause of her injuries.|
|Tighe v. N. Shore Animal League Am.||36 N.Y.S.3d 500 (N.Y. App. Div. 2016)||
In this New York case, the defendant appeals denial of its motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed an action to recover damages for personal injuries after the dog she adopted from defendant-North Shore Animal League America bit plaintiff's face causing severe personal injuries. Plaintiff alleges causes of action that include negligence, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and interposed a claim for punitive damages. After defendant opposed the filing, plaintiff submitted evidence that the dog previously had been returned to defendant animal shelter after biting another individual in the face. This court noted that, under long-standing rule, the owner of a domestic animal who knew or should have known of the animal's vicious propensities is liable for harm. However, here, even if defendant failed to disclose the dog's vicious propensities, that breach was not the proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries. In fact, the dog showed aggressive behavior during the three-and-a-half months the plaintiff owned the dog (including a previous bite to plaintiff's hand). This, in effect, placed the plaintiff on notice of the dog's vicious propensities. The court found that the lower court erred by not granting defendant's motion for summary judgment. With regard to the reach of the implied warranty of merchantability, the court found that even if a transaction from an animal shelter is subject to the warranty, the plaintiff failed to notify defendant of the "nonconformity of the goods" (to wit, the dog) within a reasonable period of time. The order was reversed.
|Thurber v. Apmann||91 A.D.3d 1257 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept., 2012)||
In 2007, the plaintiff and defendant were walking their respective dogs when one of defendant's two dogs, a retired K-9 dog, attacked the plaintiff's dog. Plaintiff sued defendant for damages she received as a result. While each dog did received "handler protection" training (where a K-9 dog is trained to react to an aggressive attack on defendant while on duty), that situation had never arisen because the dogs acted in passive roles as explosive detection dogs. Plaintiff countered that the severity of the attack coupled with the dogs' breed and formal police training should have put defendant on notice of the dogs' vicious propensities. In affirming the summary judgment, this court found that the formal police training was not evidence of viciousness and there was no support to plaintiff's assertion that defendant kept the dogs as "guard dogs."
|Terral v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co.||892 So.2d 732 (La.,2005)||
A motorcyclist hit a dog wandering on the road and sued the defendant under strict liability theory. The court found that the defendant was strictly liable because he owned the dog in fact. Although the dog was originally a stray, the court upheld a finding of ownership because the defendant regularly fed the dog and harbored it on his property.
|Tarquinio v. City of Lakewood, Ohio (unpublished)||Slip Copy, 2011 WL 4458165 (N.D.Ohio)||
Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment from the court that Lakewood City Ordinance (“LCO”) 506.01, which bans pit bull dogs or those dogs with "appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of such breeds," unconstitutional under the Ohio Constitution Home Rule provisions. In this motion, plaintiffs argue that LCO 506 conflicts with and impermissibly expands the provisions of Ohio Revised Code § 955.22. The court found that while § 955.22 outlines requirements that must be met by a person who houses vicious dogs, including all pit bulls, it does not explicitly permit pit bulls. The court found that the General Assembly intended to allow municipalities to regulate the possession of pit bulls.
|Swanson v. Tackling||335 Ga. App. 810 (2016)||This is an interlocutory appeal by the dog owners (the Swansons) in a personal injury lawsuit for a dog bite. The court in this case overruled the lower court’s ruling that the defendant was not entitled to summary judgement after defendant’s dog bit a child but the dog had never shown a propensity to injure anyone prior to the incident. Plaintiff was suing defendant after defendant’s dog bit plaintiff’s child on the arm and head. Plaintiff argued that defendant is responsible for the injuries caused by the dog because the defendant neglected to properly restrain the dog. The court reversed the lower court’s decision and held in favor of defendant, stating that there was no evidence that was presented to indicate that defendant could have or should have known that the dog would act in this way towards the child. In order to prevail, the plaintiff needed to present evidence that the dog had acted in a similar way in the past.|
|Strickland v. Pinellas Cty.||--- So.3d ----, 2018 WL 6518761 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 12, 2018)||Andy G. Strickland appealed an order dismissing with prejudice his complaint for declaratory relief against Pinellas County. The request stems from letters he received from Animal Services of Pinellas County about his dog. Strickland and a neighbor were involved in a dispute after their dogs attacked each other. The neighbor filed a complaint with Animal Services claiming that Strickland's dog was the "aggressor dog" and then sent a letter to the Pinellas County Board of Commissioners. The County then sent two letters to Strickland, the first informing him that his dog had exhibited dangerous propensities, and the second, from an assistant county attorney, informing him of the possible criminal ramifications for keeping a dangerous dog or being an "Irresponsible Pet Owner" under the county code. As a result of these letters, Strickland filed a complaint in circuit court saying that he was not afforded any opportunity to dispute those claims and that he is entitled to have the threat of criminal prosecution removed. The County moved to dismiss Strickland's complaint arguing that he failed to allege a justiciable controversy and a bona fide dispute between the County and him. The County claimed that there were no legal findings made with respect to Strickland's dog and that the letters were possible ramifications and explanations of law. The trial court agreed and granted the County's motion, finding the letters were not accusatory and the case presented no justiciable issue. On appeal here, this court upheld the lower court's order because Strickland's allegations did not present a bona fide dispute. Both letters emphasized that his dog had not been classified as dangerous and that no action was being taken by the county. A speculative fear by Strickland that he may be subject to future consequences does not warrant declaratory relief and does not show imminent danger of prosecution. Thus, the trial court correctly dismissed Strickland's complaint. Affirmed.|
|Stolte v. Hammack||716 S.E.2d 796 (Ga. App., 2011)||
After home owner’s roommate was attacked by a pit bull inside the home, the victim filed suit against owner under the vicious animal and the premises liability statutes. The Court of Appeals held that, because the roommate knew about the dog’s vicious propensity to the same extent as the owner, the owner was not liable. Plaintiff must present evidence that the owner had superior knowledge of the dog's temperament for the owner to be liable.
|Stennette v. Miller||316 Ga.App. 425, 729 S.E.2d 559 (Ga.App., 2012)||
Plaintiff Stennette was providing in-home nursing care while she was bitten multiple times by Defendant Miller's dog. Stennette appeals from the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Miller in Stennette's personal injury action. This Court affirmed that decision because Stennette failed to provide adequate evidence showing triable issues on whether the dog had a vicious propensity and whether Miller knew of that propensity. However, the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment as to Miller on Stennette's claim that Miller negligently performed a voluntarily-undertaken duty to keep the dog away from her when she was at the house, because the evidence created genuine issues of material fact as to this claim.
|Steagald v. Eason||797 S.E.2d 838 (2017)||
In this case, Gary and Lori Steagald sued the Eason family, alleging that the Easons failed to keep their dog properly restrained and were therefore liable under OCGA § 51-2-7. Lori Steagald suffered injuries after the Easons dog attacked her while she was visiting the Easons home. The Easons filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that they had no reason to know that the dog was vicious or dangerous and therefore were not liable under the statute. Both the trial court and Court of Appeals affirmed the motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the lower court’s decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Georgia found that the Eason family was liable under the statute because they did have reason to believe that the dog could potentially be vicious or dangerous. The Court focused on the fact that the dog had previously “growled and snapped” at the Easons while being fed. The Court held that although the dog had never bit anyone prior to Lori Steagald, it was reasonable to assume that the dog could potentially bite and injure someone given the fact that it had a history of snapping and growling. As a result, the Court reversed the Easons motion for summary judgment and determined that the question of whether or not the Easons are liable under the statute is a question for the jury.