Dangerous Dog: Related Cases
|Christensen v. Lundsten||863 N.Y.S.2d 886, 2008 WL 4118071 (N.Y.Dist.Ct.)||
In this New York case, the parent of child injured by a dog brought an action seeking to have the dog declared a “dangerous dog” under the relevant law. The Court conducted a trial of the “dangerous dog” petition filed and rendered an oral decision that declared the respondents' Chesapeake Bay Retriever “Nellie” to be a dangerous dog under New York Agricultural and Markets Law § 121. The parties contested the appropriateness of a finding of “negligence” and “strict liability” and the entry of judgment. The District Court held that the court would not resolve issue of negligence because the issue was not properly joined for disposition; however, the owners were strictly liable for child's unreimbursed medical expenses.
|Christian v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores, Inc.||54 A.D.3d 707 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2008)||
This New York case consists of an action to recover damages for personal injuries. The plaintiffs appeal the granting of the motion of the defendant for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him and the cross motion of the defendants Petco. The infant plaintiff allegedly sustained personal injuries when she was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant Kenneth Coughlin at a Petco store. The court held that the evidence submitted established that the defendants were not aware that this dog had ever bitten anyone or exhibited any aggressive behavior.
|City of Cleveland v. Lupica||2004 WL 2340639 (Ohio, 2004)||
Defendant plead no contest to failure to confine and insure her dog after her pit bull attacked a mail carrier. The trial court's decision to have the dog turned over to the city and destroyed was reversed. The Court of Appeals found Defendant's no contest plea was not entered knowingly, intelligently or voluntarily.
|City of Delray Beach v. St. Juste||989 So.2d 655 (Fla.App. 4 Dist. 2008)||In this Florida case, the city of Delray Beach appealed from a judgment for damages in favor of appellee plaintiff, who was injured by two loose dogs. The theory of liability was based on the city's knowledge, from prior complaints, that these dogs were loose from time to time and dangerous. The plaintiff suggested that the city's failure to impound the dogs after prior numerous complaints contributed to the attack. The court concluded that decisions made by the city's animal control officer and police to not impound the dogs were discretionary decisions, and therefore the city was immune.|
|City of Delray Beach v. St. Juste||989 So.2d 655 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.,2008)||
In this Florida case, the city of Delray Beach appeals a judgment for damages in favor of plaintiff, who was injured by two loose dogs. Plaintiff was attacked and severely injured by two large dogs owned by a resident of Delray Beach, when the dogs escaped from the resident's fenced yard. The theory of liability was based on the city's knowledge, from prior complaints and an actual visit by an animal control officer, that these dogs were loose from time to time and dangerous. This court agreed with the city, finding that the decision of an animal control officer was discretionary and therefore immune from liability under these circumstances.
|City of Garland v. White||368 S.W.2d 12 (Tex. Civ. App. 1963).||
Police officers were trespassers and could be held civilly liable for damages when they entered a dog owner's property with the intent to unlawfully kill the dog. Reports had been made that the dog was attacking other animals but because the attacks were not imminent, in progress, or recent, the killing of the dog was not lawful.
|City of Onida v. Brandt||--- N.W.2d ----, 2021 WL 1681818 (S.D., 2021)||The City of Onida (the City) filed a petition for declaratory judgment seeking authorization from the circuit court to euthanize two dogs owned by the Appellants as “vicious animals” under Onida ordinances or, alternatively, based upon a determination that the dogs were dangerous under state law (SDCL 7-12-29). The circuit court concluded the City could not require the dogs to be euthanized under the ordinance but found that the requirements of SDCL 7-12-29 were met. Appellants appeal the circuit court's order directing the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs pursuant under state law. In 2020, the appellants' dogs attacked a neighbor's smaller dog just outside of the neighbor's door to their home. The attack caused numerous bite wounds and internal injuries to the smaller dog who eventually died. Prior to this event, there were two other incidents where appellants' dog rushed up to a woman working outside her house barking aggressively and another incident involving the same neighbor's dog who was the victim in the instant case. The sheriff was summoned for the prior incidents, although no formal action was taken and appellants beefed up measures to keep the dogs in their yard. After the attack on the neighbor's dog, the sheriff formally declared the dogs "vicious animals" under the city's ordinance and obtained a TRO to remove the dogs to keep them at a nearby kennel until further disposition from the court. Ultimately, the City filed a petition for declaratory judgment requesting authorization for euthanasia of the dogs. Alternatively, the City sought a determination of dangerousness under SDCL 7-12-29 and requested an order allowing the sheriff to dispose of the dogs. The court found Appellants violated SDCL 40-34-2 by owning a “dog that chases, worries, injures, or kills any ... domestic animal ....” The court further found under the Ordinance that the dogs were improperly unleashed and running at large within city limits and that the dogs were “vicious animals.” However, the court determined the City could not require Appellants to euthanize the dogs under the Ordinance because no “vicious animal” notice had been given to Appellants prior to the fatal attack on the neighbors’ dog. However, the court found that Appellants’ dogs were dangerous under SDCL 7-12-29 and authorized the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs. The circuit court stayed the order pending this appeal. On appeal, the appellants challenge the City's authority to request that the Sheriff dispose of the dogs under SDCL 7-12-29 after the circuit court denied such relief under the Ordinance. Appellants also argue that the circuit court erred in determining the dogs were dangerous and authorizing the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs under SDCL 7-12-29 in absence of a showing that the Department of Health had been consulted. The Supreme Court held that presented on appeal is whether the circuit court could order the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs under SDCL 7-12-29. SDCL 7-12-29 allows a sheriff to take possession of any animal suspected of being dangerous, continue to hold the animal until a formal determination of dangerousness can be made, and dispose of the animal through humane means if it is determined to be dangerous. Appellants claim that the court improperly used a "hybrid" application of both state and local law. This Court disagreed, finding that appellants presented no authority that the sheriff could not act under state law as opposed to city law. Appellants’ second argument is that circuit court erred by entering an order to permit the Sheriff to dispose of the dogs under the statute without first requiring consultation with the Department of Health for the purpose of rabies control. The Court agreed that the text of SDCL 7-12-29 includes both public safety and public health considerations that requires a formal consultation. However, the Court found this error to be harmless and the failure to consult with the Department of Health had any effect on the court's decision, or that it harmed the substantial rights of the Appellants. In fact, it was stipulated that both dogs were vaccinated against rabies and no continuing public health risk existed since the dog victim died 12 months prior at the veterinarian. The Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ordering that “the Sheriff may now dispose of [Appellants’ two dogs] through humane euthanasia.”|
|City of Pierre v. Blackwell||635 N.W.2d 581 (S.D. 2001)||
In this South Dakota case, the owner of a dog declared by an animal control officer to be "dangerous" pursuant to Pierre City Ordinance § 10-3-111 challenged the conviction on the basis that the ordinances themselves were unconstitutional and that his constitutional right to procedural due process has been violated. The court held that the ordinances themselves were constitutional, noting the broad authority municipalities have to regulate pet ownership as a legitimate exercise of police power. The court reversed and remanded for determination on the factual issue of the dog's dangerousness. Specifically, if the City opts for a civil hearing, absent exigent circumstances, the owner of a dog is entitled to a due process hearing on the issue of dangerousness.
|City of Richardson v. Responsible Dog Owners of Texas||794 S.W.2d 17 (Tex. 1990).||
City's animal control ordinance banning the keeping of pit bulls was not preempted by state Penal Code provisions governing the keeping of vicious dogs.
|Coballes v. Spokane County||274 P.3d 1102 (Wash.App. Div. 3)||
In this case, the Washington Court of Appeals determined the appellant had a statutory right to appeal a county board’s dangerous dog declaration because the board had acted within its ordinary and usual duties. The availability of the right to appeal, however, foreclosed a statutory and constitutional writ of review/writ of certiorari. Furthermore, given the court’s finding that a prior proceeding constituted an appeal as of right, the appellant’s dangerous dog declaration could only be appealed under a discretionary review. The court therefore granted the appellant leave to file a motion for discretionary review.
|Coe v. Lewsader||64 N.E.3d 817, appeal denied, 77 N.E.3d 81 (Ill. 2017)||In this case, Ryan and Hillary Coe filed suit against Eric and Trish Lewsader for damages resulting from an accident involving the Lewsader’s dog. Ryan Coe was driving his motorcycle while intoxicated on a public highway when he hit the Lewsader’s dog that was lying in the middle of the street. Coe suffered severe injuries as a result of the accident and filed suit against the Lewsader’s according to Section 16 of the Illinois Animal Attacks or Injuries statute. According to the Act, “if a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages.” In order to be awarded damages under the Act, the Coe’s needed to establish “some overt act” of the Lewsader’s dog . As a result, the question before the court was whether or not the Lewsader’s dog was acting overtly when it was lying in the middle of the street at the time of the accident. Ultimately, the court held that the dog was not acting overtly by lying in the middle of the street. Also, the court rejected the Coe’s argument that the dog had acted overtly when it walked into the street before lying down. The court rejected this argument because the overt act needed to take place at the time of the injury, not before. As a result, the court found that the Lewsader’s were not liable for civil damages under the Act because the dog had not acted overtly at the time of accident and therefore the Act did not apply in this situation.|
|Cohen v. Kretzschmar||30 A.D.3d 555 ((N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept. 2006)||
The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the owners established that their dog did not have a propensity to jump up on people, and that they were not negligent in the manner in which they handled the dog at the time of the alleged accident. The judgment granting defendants' motion for summary judgment was affirmed.
|Cole v. Hubanks||681 N.W.2d 147 (Wis. 2003)||
Police officer was injured by homeowner's dog and sued for damages. The Supreme Court held that public policy does not dictate extending the firefighter's rule to the police officer, and therefore, that the officer could sue for injuries received as a result of the bite. Reversed and remanded.
|Collier v. Zambito||1 N.Y.3d 444 (N.Y. 2004)||
Infant child attacked and bit by dog when he was a guest in the owner's home. After defenses motion for summary judgment was denied, the Appellate Court reversed, and this court affirms.
|Colorado Dog Fanciers v. City and County of Denver||820 P.2d 644 (Colo. 1991)||The plaintiffs, dog owners and related canine and humane associations (dog owners), filed a complaint in the Denver District Court against the defendant, City and County of Denver (city), seeking both a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the "Pit Bulls Prohibited" ordinance, Denver, Colo., Rev.Mun.Code § 8-55 (1989), and injunctive relief to prevent enforcement. The dog owners in this case claim the ordinance is unconstitutional, violating their rights to procedural and substantive due process and equal protection, is unconstitutionally vague, and constitutes a taking of private property.|
|Com. v. Beam||923 A.2d 414 (Pa.Super., 2007)||
In this Pennsylvania case, defendant appeals from convictions for licensing violations under the state's Dog Law and for violation of the Rabies Prevention and Control in Domestic Animals and Wildlife Act after a copier repair person was attacked by defendant's three German Shepherds. Because the Department of Health dog warden could not gain access to either question defendant about the dogs' vaccinations or quarantine the dogs, the victim had to receive a series of rabies shots. Based on the testimony of the dog warden that he finally saw vaccination certificates, and the fact the Commonwealth did not present any contrary evidence, the fines imposed under the Rabies Act were reversed. However, the court sustained the convictions for licensing violations under the Dog Law since defendant failed to show proof of licenses for 2005 (when the attack occurred).
|Com. v. Hake||Com. v. Hake, 738 A.2d 46 (1998)||
Dog owner appealed conviction of harboring a dangerous dog that attacked a child in violation of the Dangerous Dog Statute. The Commonwealth Court held that the statute imposes strict liability for the dog’s first bite if a dog inflicts severe injury on a human being without provocation.
|Com. v. Raban||31 A.3d 699 (Pa.Super., 2011)||
Defendant was convicted of violating the dog law for failing to properly confine his dog after it escaped from his property and attacked another dog. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed, holding that 1) scienter was not a necessary element of the violation because the statutory mandate to confine a dog was stated absolutely, and 2) a dog attack is not a de minimis infraction that would preclude a conviction.
|Com. v. Seyler||929 A.2d 262 (Pa.Cmwlth., 2007)||
This Pennsylvania case construes the term "owner" for purposes of the state's Dog and Rabies Laws. Gretta R. Seyler appeals from an order of the trial court, which found her guilty of two counts each of violating Dog Law and guilty of two counts of violating Section 8 of the Rabies Prevention and Control in Domestic Animals and Wildlife Act after a pit bull jumped out of a window of her home and attacked a neighbor. First, the court found that there was no question that Seyler was caring for the dogs at the time the incident occurred or was permitting them to remain “on or about” the premises occupied by her. Although Seyler argues that the record clearly indicates that the two dogs were owned by her adult sons, the court found that the argument is without much force, as no paperwork showing the sons' ownership of the dogs was introduced at the hearing. Further, the court observed that the plain and unambiguous intent of Sections 8 of the Rabies Act and 305 of the Dog Law is that dogs be vaccinated and confined at all times. Thus, if the person having the property interest in a dog does not perform that function, then the statutes clearly require one harboring or caring for the dog, here Seyler, to perform it.
|Commonwealth v. Austin||846 A.2d 798 (Pa. 2004)||
Defendant appeals his conviction of harboring a dangerous dog. The Court affirmed, holding that there was sufficient evidence supporting the conviction, and also holding that serious injuries are not a prerequisite for convicting a defendant for harboring a dangerous animal.
|Commonwealth v. Kneller||999 A.2d 608 (Pa., 2010)||
Kneller appealed from a conviction of criminal conspiracy to commit cruelty to animals after she gave an acquaintance a gun and asked him to shoot a dog. The Court affirmed the conviction, concluding that “The Animal Destruction Method Authorization Law” (ADMA) and the “Dog Law” are not ambiguous. In addition, the deadly weapon enhancement applies to an owner who is convicted of cruelty to animals and used a firearm to kill it.
|Commonwealth v. Thorton||Commonwaelth v. Thorton, 113 Mass 457 (1873)||
The defendant was convicted of causing his dog to be bitten, mangled and cruelly tortured by another dog. The defendant appealled and the Supreme Court affirmed.
|Commonwealth v. Whitson||--- N.E.3d ----, 97 Mass.App.Ct. 798, 2020 WL 3635941 (2020)||This case involves an appeal of an animal cruelty conviction after defendant repeatedly stabbed a dog named Smokey, a three-year old pit bull. The incident in question occurred on a street outside of defendant's barber shop. Smokey was on-leash walking with his owner when an unleashed smaller dog ran at Smokey and began biting his ankles. Smokey responded playfully, not aggressively. The defendant responded to calls of assistance from the smaller dog's owner and helped separate the dogs. After this, the defendant returned briefly to his barbershop and came back with a knife that he used to repeatedly stab Smokey with while he restrained the dog with his other arm. The police eventually responded and defendant was taken to the hospital for a laceration on his hand where he yelled, "I'm glad I killed the [expletive] dog." Smokey survived the attack and defendant was charged and convicted. On appeal, defendant raised several arguments challenging the verdict. In particular, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, arguing that he stabbed Smokey repeatedly to release the dog from biting his hand. The appellate court found that no defense witnesses testified that Smokey bit defendant and the no medical records corroborated defendant's version of events. Defendant also argued that the judged erred in denying his motion in limine regarding Smokey prior and subsequent "bad acts," which, defendant claimed, were relevant to the issue of Smokey as the initial aggressor. This court found that the proffered evidence of bad acts was inadmissible hearsay and the acts subsequent to Smokey's stabbing occurred too remotely to have any probative value. Finally, the court found no substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice where the judge failed to give a sua sponte necessity defense. The judgment was affirmed.|
|County of Pasco v. Riehl||620 So.2d 229 (Fla.App. 2 Dist.,1993)||
When owners of a "dangerous dog" attempted to enjoin such a classification, this court held the dangerous dog statute was unconstitutional. Because dogs are subjects of property and ownership, the owner's deprivation of a dog entitles him to procedural due process.
|Crisman v. Hallows||999 P.2d 1249 (Utah App.,2000)||
Plaintiff dog owners appeal the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of defendant Ted Hallows. Hallows. a Division of Wildlife Resources employee, shot the dogs after they got loose from plaintiffs' backyard. While the factual accounts of the shooting differed, Hallows asserted that he shot the dogs within the scope of his employment and was therefore protected under the Governmental Immunity Act. On appeal, the court first found that plaintiffs may maintain an action against Hallows for conduct outside the scope of his employment and this claim was not barred by their admitted failure to comply with the Immunity Act's notice of claim and statute of limitations requirements. Further, as to plaintiffs' claims that Hallows was not acting within his scope of employment when the shooting occurred, there was sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact.
|Custer v. Coward||667 S.E.2d 135 (Ga.App.,2008)||
Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of defendants. The plaintiffs' 5-year-old child was bitten by the defendants' dog while the plaintiffs were visiting the defendants, who were also their neighbors. While jumping on the defendants' trampoline, the plaintiffs' child fell onto the defendants' dog who bit the child on the leg and would not let go for a few minutes. The plaintiffs contended at trial that the defendants' knowledge that the dog had "Wobbler's Syndrome," a cranial neck instability that causes leg problems, somehow put the defendants on notice of the dog's vicious propensity. However, the court discarded plaintiffs' argument, finding that is no evidence that Butkus had bitten or attempted to bite anyone before the incident. Further, there was no reason for the defendants to believe that the dog's leg condition would make it more apt to attack humans.
|Daniels v. Drake||195 N.E.3d 866 (Ind. Ct. App. 2022)||Plaintiff Damon Daniels appeals from the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of defendants, the Drakes. The incident stems from an unprovoked dog bite at defendants' home. The Drakes live on a large, rural property in Indiana with no neighbors. The Drakes own five dogs including "Max," a large Great Dane. Max would roam the property unrestrained. Daniels is a FedEx driver. In September of 2020, Daniels entered the property to deliver a package. Upon approaching the residence, Daniels honked his horn a couple times to get the attention of Lisa Drake. Daniels, who was still inside the vehicle, asked Lisa if Max was "okay," to which Lisa indicated a "thumbs up." However, after walking toward Lisa with the package, Max barked once and then bit Daniels in the abdomen. Daniels sustained puncture wounds, a one-centimeter laceration, swelling and a hematoma from the bite. Approximately two months later, Daniels filed the instant complaint seeking damages related to the dog bite. The Drakes filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that they did not have actual knowledge of Max's vicious propensities prior to the bite. In response, Daniels contended that Great Danes have a "natural propensity" to be territorial, which is exacerbated by isolation. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. On appeal here, the court explained that Indiana law states that knowledge of a dog's dangerous or vicious tendencies may not be inferred from a first-time, unprovoked bite, but that knowledge may be inferred where evidence shows that the particular breed to which the owner's dog belongs is known to exhibit such tendencies." While the court observed that the Drakes presented evidence of a lack of actual knowledge of Max's vicious propensities, the expert who testified on Great Dane behavior presented evidence that Great Danes might behave with "territorial aggressive tendencies" in a given situation. The Drakes argued on appeal (for the first time) that this evidence by a canine behavioral expert was "immaterial" and cannot be used to show what lay people would know about Great Danes. The court was unpersuaded by the Drakes' novel argument, and this created a genuine issue of material fact. Thus, this court reversed the order granting summary judgment for the Drakes and remanded the case for further proceedings.|
|Davis v. Animal ControlCity of Evansville||948 N.E.2d 1161 (Ind., 2011)||
Dog attack victim sued city and its animal control department, seeking damages for injuries he sustained from a dog attack in his neighborhood. The victim claimed that the city failed to enforce its animal control ordinance. The Supreme Court held that city and its animal control department had law enforcement immunity because the Tort Claims Act provided immunity to governmental entities for any loss due to failure to enforce a law.
|Davis v. Gaschler||14 Cal.Rptr.2d 679 (Cal.App.3.Dist.)||
In this California case, plaintiff noticed two women in the process of assisting an injured dog, which was owned by defendants, while driving down the road. Plaintiff, an experienced dog breeder and handler, assisted the women and was bitten by plaintiff's dog. The dog had not been vaccinated for rabies, and plaintiff was required to undergo antirabies treatment. Plaintiff sought appeal of the lower court's granting of summary judgment for the defendant. The Court of Appeal reversed. It held that defendants had the burden to establish that this was a case of primary assumption of the risk-where, by virtue of the nature of the activity and the parties' relationship to the activity, defendants owed no legal duty to plaintiff. The court held that the complaint alleged facts sufficient to impose a duty on the part of defendants, based on allegations that they owned and negligently controlled the dog that bit plaintiff.
|Davison v. Berg||243 So.3d 489 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2018)||Deborah Davison volunteered at her local Humane Society to help take care of a dog park. Three years later, Rebecca Berg’s dog who was chasing other dogs collided with Davison. Davison suffered a broken leg that required extensive medical care. Davison then filed an action against Berg under a Florida statute that “imposes liability on dog owners for damage their dogs cause to other persons and animals.” The trial court granted final summary judgment in favor of Berg for two reasons. The first reason was that the signs outside of the park sufficiently warned Davison of the risks of injury inside. The second reason was that Davison essentially consented to the risk of potential injuries by being a volunteer for the dog park. On appeal, this court stated that the Florida statute was a strict liability statute that makes an owner the insurer of their dog’s conduct. The only defense to the statute is for an owner to display in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign that includes the words “Bad Dog.” Berg presented evidence that the park had two signs prominently displayed at the entrance to the park with the title “Dog Park Rules.” The two signs listed rules for entrance to the dog park. One of these rules stated that park use is at the dog owner’s risk. Another rule stated that rough play and chasing were not allowed if any dogs or owners were uncomfortable with that behavior. The last rule stated that visitors enter at their own risk. Even though Davison entered the park at her own risk, the purpose of the sign requirement in the statute was to give notice that a bad dog is on the premises. The Court found that the trial court erred in finding that the signs at the dog park were sufficiently equivalent to “Bad Dog” signs to preclude liability under the Florida statute. The trial court also found that by virtue of Davison volunteering at the dog park, she was aware that she could be injured during the course of her work and that she signed a volunteer application form that acknowledged that she could be exposed to “bites, scratches, and other injuries.” Davison had also witnessed a prior collision between a dog and an individual that resulted in a broken leg. After witnessing that, Davison began to warn others at the Humane Society about the dangers of being inside the dog park with dogs chasing each other. The Court held that even though there may be evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that Davison consented to the risk of injury, “an actual consent or assumption of the risk defense cannot bar liability.” The Court reversed the trial court’s entry of final summary judgment in favor of Berg.|
|DeRobertis by DeRobertis v. Randazzo||462 A.2d 1260 (N.J. 1983)||
The principal issue in this New Jersey case is the liability of a dog owner to an infant plaintiff bitten by the owner's dog. At trial the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, and the Appellate Division, in an unreported opinion, affirmed. A factual issue existed at the trial, however, as to whether the infant plaintiff was lawfully on the property of the owner, but the trial court did not submit that question to the jury. The omission is important because the "dog-bite" statute, N.J.S.A. 4:19-16, imposes absolute liability on an owner whose dog bites someone who is "lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog." If the plaintiff was a trespasser, he was not lawfully on the property, and liability should not be determined under the statute but according to common-law principles. It was necessary to find that the invitation to infant plaintiff to be on defendant's property extended to the area where the dog was chained.
|DeVaul v. Carvigo Inc.||526 N.Y.S.2d 483 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.,1988)||
This New York case involved a dog bite victim who brought an action against the owner to recover for personal injuries. The Supreme Court, Nassau County entered judgment in favor of owner. On appeal with the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, the court held that the viciousness of German shepherd dogs was not appropriate subject of judicial notice. The court found that there is no authority for the proposition that judicial notice should be taken "as to the ferocity of any particular type of domestic animal."
|Dias v. City and County of Denver||567 F.3d 1169 (C.A.10 (Colo.),2009)||
The Tenth Circuit took up a challenge to Denver's breed-specific ban against pitbull dogs. The plaintiffs, former residents of Denver, contended the ban is unconstitutionally vague on its face and deprives them of substantive due process. The district court dismissed both claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) before plaintiffs presented evidence to support their claims. On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the district court erred by prematurely dismissing the case at the 12(b)(6) stage. The Tenth Circuit agreed in part, finding that while the plaintiffs lack standing to seek prospective relief for either claim because they have not shown a credible threat of future prosecution, taking the factual allegations in the complaint as true the plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the pit bull ban is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.
|Diehl v. Cumberland Mut. Fire Ins. Co.||686 A.2d 785 (N.J.Super.A.D.,1997)||
In this New Jersey case, the plaintiff was bitten by a dog when walking around the back of pickup and $55,000 in damages were awarded. The issue on appeal concerned the issue of which insurance policy, auto or homeowners, should cover this type of incident. The court adopted the nexus test; the auto insurance is liable if the injury arises out of the operation of a vehicle. The Court held : “We are satisfied that automobile liability insurance should cover this injury caused by a dog bite to the face occurring while the dog was in the open rear deck of a pickup truck because it arose out of the use of the vehicle to transport the dog. Moreover, the bite incident was facilitated by the height and open design of the deck. In our view the act was a natural and foreseeable consequence of the use of the vehicle, and there was a substantial nexus between the dog bite and the use of the vehicle at the time the dog bit the plaintiff.”
|Dillon v. Ohio Dep't of Rehab. & Correction||--- N.E.3d ----, 2023-Ohio-942||Plaintiff-Appellant, Anna Dillon, a certified “senior dog handler” through a rehabilitation program for inmates in Ohio, was attacked by a dog named Roosevelt, a German Shepherd/Husky mix owned by an Ohio Reformatory for Woman (ORW) corrections officer. Dillon had previously interacted with Roosevelt without incident on multiple occasions, but in March 2018, Roosevelt attacked her, causing 16 puncture wounds. On March 19, 2018, while attempting to put on Roosevelt's leash and collar, he displayed signs of anxiety and suddenly attacked Ms. Dillon, biting her multiple times. After the incident, Roosevelt was removed from the program. In August 2018, Ms. Dillon requested records pertaining to Roosevelt but was unable to obtain his handler folder. The dog’s handler folder included the dog’s training history, breed, eating habits, type of collar, preferences, personality, demeanor, and incidents of aggression, and was retained by the handler assigned to that dog. Ms. Dillon filed a civil action against ODRC in 2020, alleging negligence and spoliation of evidence. The trial court found in favor of ODRC in a decision issued in September 2021. Ms. Dillon appealed that decision, asserting several assignments of error. In her first and second assignments of error, Ms. Dillon argues that the trial court's findings in favor of ODRC on her negligence claim were against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court evaluated whether there was sufficient evidence to support the determination that Roosevelt was not a vicious dog prior to the incident. The court referred to Ohio's statutory definition of a vicious dog, which states that it is a dog that has killed or caused serious injury to a person without provocation. The court found that none of Roosevelt's previous behaviors, such as mouthing, baring teeth, or lunging, met the definition of serious injury as defined by the statute. The trial court concludes that Ms. Dillon failed to prove that Roosevelt met either standard before the incident. The court noted that no evidence or testimony showed that Roosevelt had attacked or seriously injured anyone before March 2018 and Ms. Dillon's reliance on the case of Pickett, which dealt with a traditional negligence claim - a claim that she had abandoned in this case - was not relevant. In her second assignment of error, Ms. Dillon challenged the trial court's finding regarding the negligent keeping of Roosevelt, but since the first assignment of error has been resolved, the second assignment is also overruled. The trial court did not make any findings regarding ODRC's knowledge or negligent keeping of Roosevelt because it found him not to be a vicious dog. As to the spoliation of evidence claim, Ms. Dillon alleged that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) willfully destroyed evidence, specifically the handler folder of a dog named Roosevelt, to disrupt her case. The court outlined the elements of intentional spoliation of evidence, which include pending litigation, knowledge of litigation by the defendant, willful destruction of evidence, disruption of the plaintiff's case, and damages caused by the defendant's actions. The court found that Ms. Dillon failed to prove the willful destruction of the handler folder or that her case was disrupted by its disposal. It was determined that the inmate-secretaries involved in the program managed the handler folders, and there was no evidence that ODRC employees reviewed or accessed them. A failure to follow records retention schedules is separate from a spoliation claim. The court concluded that the plaintiff did not provide evidence to support her claim of willful destruction or disruption of her case and that the trial court's findings were supported by credible evidence. The judgment was affirmed.|
|Dog Federation of Wisconsin, Inc. v. City of South Milwaukee||178 Wis.2d 353, 504 N.W.2d 375 (Wis.App.,1993)||
This appeal is by the Dog Federation of Wisconsin and others who contest a City of South Milwaukee ordinance that imposes restrictions on the ownership and keeping of “pit bulls.” The Federation claims that the “pit bull” aspects of the ordinance are facially invalid because: the definition of “pit bull” is impermissibly vague; the ordinance is overbroad; and the ordinance violates their right to equal protection. The court found that reference to recognized breeds provides sufficient specifics to withstand a vagueness challenge. With regard to equal protection, the court held that the ordinance is founded on “substantial distinctions” between the breeds of dog covered by the ordinance and other breeds of dog. Moreover, the ordinance is “germane” to the underlying purpose of the ordinance to protect persons and animals from dangerous dogs. Finally, the ordinance applies equally to the affected class of persons owning or keeping pit bulls.
|Downey v. Pierce County||267 P.3d 445 (Wash.App. Div. 2, 2011)||
Dog owner sued county challenging county's dangerous animal declaration (DAD) proceedings. The Court of Appeals held that charging a fee to obtain an initial evidentiary review of a DAD violated owner's due process rights because it impacted owner's property and financial interests and potentially subjected her to future criminal sanctions. The court also held that the lack of an adequate evidentiary standard regarding review of DADs violated due process because the ordinance required only that the reviewing auditor determine if there was sufficient evidence to support the DAD.
|Drake v. Dean||15 Cal. App. 4th 915 (Cal.App.3.Dist. 1993)||
Plaintiff, engaged in religious solicitations, was knocked down by dog owner's pit bull on the defendant's driveway. She argued that the superior court should have instructed on negligence in addition to strict liability. The court agreed, finding that a negligence cause of action arises whenever there is insufficient control of a dog in a context in which it could be reasonably expected that injury could occur and injury did proximately result from the negligence. Thus, the court reversed the decision for defendant dog owners.
|DuBois v. Quilitzsch||21 A.3d 375 (R. I. 2011)||
After a dog injured a city inspector during an inspection of a property, the inspector sued the homeowners. Inspector alleged strict liability, premises liability, and negligence. The Supreme Court entered summary judgment for the defendants on the premises-liability and negligence claims because the inspector failed to show that homeowners had knowledge of their dog's vicious propensities. These claims were subject to the common law one-bite rule (and not strict liability) because the injuries occurred within an enclosed area on the owner’s property.
|Dutka v. Cassady||2012 WL 3641635 (Not Reported in A.3d)||A rescue organization had adopted out a dog. The new owners were walking the dog unleashed when it attacked another dog. The plaintiff's filed a complaint of common law negligence and recklessness, which alleged that the rescue organization should have known and should have warned them of the dangerous tendencies of the specific dog but failed to do so. Connecticut law imposed strict liability on an owner or keeper of such an animal, and the statute had not been expanded to include the seller or transferor. The issue then was whether the court should expand the scope of such a negligence claim and create a duty of care owed by transferors or sellers of dogs with known and/or unknown propensities for aggression. The court found that there was no support for expanding liability in common law negligence when the organization in this case did not own, possess, harbor or control the dog. The court declines to impose a duty on the rescue agency to inform adoptive families.|
|Earl v. Piowaty||42 A.D.3d 865 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.)||Plaintiffs' son was seriously injured when he was bitten in the face by a dog that belonged to defendant Susan Piowaty. Plaintiffs brought action on behalf of their son against Piowaty and the animal shelter from which Piowaty had adopted the dog two weeks prior to the incident, alleging that they had constructive notice of the dog's vicious propensities because of a minor incident earlier that week. However, this court agreed with the denial of plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment because there remains a triable issue as to the defendants' notice of the dog's vicious propensities at the time of the son's injury.|
|Edmonds v. Cailloux||2006 WL 398033 (Tex.App.-San Antonio) (Not Reported in S.W.3d)||
An in-home caretaker of a sick, elderly woman sued the woman, her trust, and her son after the son’s dog knocked her down causing injury. The court of appeals remanded the case because it found a genuine issue as to whether the dog had dangerous propensities and whether the son knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities to justify strict liability. The court did, however, affirm the order of summary judgment as to the negligence claim, where the son was not the caretaker’s employer and thus did not owe her a duty to exercise reasonable care.
|Edwards v. Shanley||666 F.3d 1289 (C.A.11 (Fla.))||
Automobile driver fled scene of a traffic stop and sustained serious injuries when he was attacked by a police dog, which was allowed to continue for 5 - 7 minutes. Plaintiff brought § 1983 action, alleging that the use of the police dog constituted excessive force, and that the other officer failed to intervene and stop the attack, both of which violated plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Court of Appeals held that the use of the police dog to help track and initially subdue the driver was constitutional, but permitting the dog to continue to attack the driver constituted excessive force.
|ELLIS v. OLIPHANT||141 N.W. 415 (1913)||
Plaintiff's dog was killed by defendant after defendant set traps out on his farm to catch the dogs that had been injuring his sheep. There was no claim that plaintiff's dog was caught in the act of chasing or worrying sheep. There was testimony at trail that showed plaintiff's dog was a very valuable one, highly trained, and greatly efficient about the farm; some of the witnesses testifying that he was worth at least $200. The trial court instructed the jury that defendant had no right, under the circumstances shown, to trap and shoot the dog, and the case was submitted to the jury for it to find the value of the dog. This reviewing court found no error and affirmed the judgment for the value of the dog, which was above traditional market value.
|Engquist v. Loyas||803 N.W.2d 400 (Minn.,2011)||
After a 9-year old child was bitten by defendant's dog while at a sleepover at defendant's house, the child's mother sued the dog’s owners on child's behalf. The jury found that the plaintiff provoked the dog and the court entered a judgment in favor of defendants. The appellate court reversed on the ground that the jury instruction given by the district court misstated the meaning of provocation under the statute, and remanded for a new trial. In the instant action, the Supreme Court affirms this decision. Specifically, the jury here could have found provocation without any consideration of the victim's knowledge of the danger, and this misstatement prejudiced the defendant.
|Estis v. Mills||--- So.3d ----, 2019 WL 3807048 (La. App. 2 Cir. August 14, 2019)||On September 11, 2017, Plaintiffs, Catherine Estis, Samuel Estis, and Thuy Estis brought this action against the Defendants, Clifton and Kimberly Mills, seeking damages for the shooting of the Plaintiff’s ten-month-old German Shepherd puppy, Bella. The Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants shot Bella, did not disclose to them that Bella had been shot, and dumped her body over ten miles away. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Defendants argued that they fell within the immunity afforded by a Louisiana statute that gives immunity to anyone who kills a dog that is not on the property of the owner and is harassing, wounding, or killing livestock. The Defendants alleged that Bella, the puppy, was harassing their horses. The Plaintiffs argued that the immunity afforded by the statute needed to be affirmatively pled by the Defendants and that the Defendants waived such immunity by failing to assert the affirmative defense in their original answer or any subsequent pleading. The Plaintiffs further argued that the motion for summary judgment would not have been granted if it were not for the immunity protections. The Court ultimately held that the Defendants failed to affirmatively plead the immunity statute and, therefore, it reversed and remanded the case to the lower court.|
|Estis v. Mills||--- So.3d ----, 2021 WL 1396598 (La.App. 2 Cir. 4/14/21)||The Estis' sued the Mills for the wrongful killing and disposal of the Appellants’ German Shepherd. On appeal, the Appellants argue that the district court erred in permitting the Appellees to amend their original answer to now include an affirmative defense of immunity pursuant to La. R.S. 3:2654, which would relieve the Appellees of liability. Further, the Appellants contend that the district court erred in granting the Appellees’ motion for summary judgment, asserting that there remain genuine issues of material fact, and notwithstanding liability for the death of the dog, the court erred in dismissing the Appellees’ claim for conversion. The parties were neighbors whose property was separated by an enclosed pasture where the Mills used to keep horses. Despite requests from Mills, the Estis' dogs would enter the pasture and harass the horses. In 2017, Mills discovered the dog yet again in the pasture with the horses, so Mr. Mills shot, killed, and disposed of the dog. Subsequently, the Estis family filed suit seeking damages for the intentional killing of the dog and disposing of the dog in a bayou approximately ten miles away. The lower court granted a motion in favor of the Mills agreeing that they had immunity from suit under La. R.S. 3:2654.1. On appeal to this court, the Estises argue that the Mills waived the immunity under the statute because they failed to affirmatively plead the defense in their answer to the pleadings. This court found that immunity had not been affirmative pled as required by statute. Consequently, the Mills received permission to amend their answer and plead the immunity provision. Following granting of the Mills' second motion for summary judgment based on the immunity statute, the Estises appeal that decision. As to Estis' argument that leave to amend the answer was erroneously granted, this court first noted that determination whether to allow pleadings to be amended is discretionary and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. The court found no evidence that there was bad faith in the decision to the amend the pleadings like delay. Further, there was no demonstration of prejudice from the granting of an amended answer. As to Estis' claim that summary judgment was erroneously granted, the court discussed a photograph that was submitted in evidence support showing a horse grazing with its back presented "indifferently" to the dog. The Mills countered with the evidence of an independent eyewitness to the incident who asserted that the dog harassed the horses. The court noted that issues of the credibility of evidence have no place in a summary judgment appeal. As a result, this court found that the lower court judge's statements that, in effect, weighed the credibility of the photograph versus the testimony of the witness were inappropriate. Thus, the lower court erred in granting the motion for summary judgment. Finally, the court evaluated Estis' conversion claims for the disposal of the dog's dead body. This court said that, [i]f the court finds that the killing of the dog falls under La. R.S. 3:2654, then the claim for conversion of the dog's body does not survive. However, if there were personal items on the dog at the time of the killing, such as a tracking collar or items of other value, then a conversion claim can be made for those items. If the court determines that the immunity statute does not apply, then the claim for conversion and any other applicable damages may apply." Thus, the trial court's judgment to allow the motion to amend the pleadings was affirmed, the granting of the summary judgment was reversed, and the dismissal of Estis' claims for conversion was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.|
|Evans v. Craig||807 N.Y.S.2d 417 (2006)||
A postal worker brought an action against dog owners to recover for injuries allegedly sustained when dog jumped on her while she was delivering mail to the owners' home. In affirming the denial of defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the court found that there factual issues as to whether the owners were aware of the potential danger from the dog and whether they took reasonable measures to prevent the dog from jumping on the plaintiff.
|Fandrey v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company||80 N.W.2d 345 (Wis. 2004)||
Dog bite victim sued homeowners insurer. Held: courts may factor traditional public policy to bar a claim under the dog bite statute, and in this case, public policy precludes imposing liability on homeowners even though the dog bite statute appears to impose strict liability.
|Faraci v. Urban||101 A.D.3d 1753 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.)||
In this New York case, the plaintiff sought damages for injuries his son sustained after the child was bitten by a dog in a house owned by defendant Urban, but occupied by Defendant Buil (the dog's owner). Defendant Urban appeals an order denying her motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Defendant Urban failed to demonstrate as a matter of law that the dog did not have vicious tendencies because defendant's own submissions showed that the dog had previously growled at people coming to the door. However, summary judgment was appropriate here because the evidence failed to show that defendant knew or should have known of the dog's alleged vicious propensities.