Dangerous Dog: Related Cases
|Shelvey v. Bicknell||1996CarswellBC1131||
Both plaintiff (appellant) Shelvey and the defendant (respondent) dog owners were guests of an unnamed third party at that party's beach cabin, where the defendants left their Rottweiler unrestrained on the cabin's deck overnight. The friendly dog jumped over the deck railing to follow the plaintiff to the beach where she was walking; the large, energetic dog bumped her legs while playfully chasing a seagull, knocking her down and leaving her unconscious. The dog had previously knocked its owner and a child down at one time due to its large size and weight. A trial judge earlier found that the defendant owners were not liable to the plaintiff in negligence as the freak accident was not reasonably foreseeable; the Court of Appeal concurred, finding no negligence. Scienter was not argued or discussed at either level.
|Janota-Bzowska v. Lewis||1997CarswellBC1957||
The respondent Janota-Bzowska was an invited guest at the home of the appellant Lewises, where another guest (appellant Holtzman) had tied his Labrador dog outside; the dog lunged at the respondent, causing her to fall and break her finger. A trial court earlier found both dog-owner and home-owners liable to Janota-Bzowska under the doctrines of scienter (strict liabilty) and negligence. On appeal, the court held that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the dog had a propensity to lunge at people, or that the owner knew of such propensity, although the dog was known to chase deer. However, this was not sufficient to allow recovery under scienter. On the issue of negligence, the court also held that the dog's behaviour being 'unexpected and out of character' showed no suggestion of a risk for which the owner had failed to take reasonable precautions, so there was no negligence shown.
|State v. Dan||20 P.3d 829 (Or. 2001)||
This is an appeal of a circuit court decision in an aggravated animal abuse case. A defendant was convicted in circuit court of aggravated animal abuse and other charges. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the defendant's testimony that he loved his children more than the dog he shot was not evidence of his character, thus the evidence offered by the state in rebuttal (that the defendant assaulted his spouse) was not admissible and not harmless error by the trial court.
|Ivey v. Hamlin (Unpublished)||2002 WL 1254444 (Tenn.Ct.App.)(Not reproted in S.W.3rd)||
This is an action for damages for the deliberate killing of a dog by a Deputy Sheriff that was alleging terrorizing the neighborhood. In finding for defendant-officer, the court noted that the consensus among the courts is that a vicious dog is a public nuisance and that governments and their agents have broad power to protect the public from these animals. The court thus found the officer acted reasonably under the circumstances and had a qualified immunity defense.
|Allanson v. Toncich||2002 WL 1897936 (Austrailia)||
Appeal uphold the judgement against the dog owner for damages, but recalculates damages upward.
|Holcomb v. Colonial Associates, L.L.C.||2004 WL 1416659, 2004 WL 1416659 (N.C.) (Only Westlaw cite available)||
This North Carolina case involves the issue of whether a landlord can be held liable for negligence when his tenant's dogs injure a third party where a landlord has agreed by contract to remove "undesirable" dogs. Under the terms of the lease, the tenant, Olson, could keep one Rottweiler dog on the property. It was also stipulated that the landlord could require removal of any "undesirable" pets with 48-hour's notice. The dogs in the instant action attacked a contractor who was making an estimate on some of the rental homes, and, according to testimony, had committed two prior attacks. The court concluded that the Court of Appeals erred, in that the plaintiff was not required to show Colonial was an owner or keeper of the dogs in order to show Colonial was negligent; that requirement is limited only to strict liability actions. As a result, the court found Colonial failed to use ordinary care by failing to require the defendant Olson to restrain his Rottweiler dogs, or remove them from the premises when the defendant knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known, from the dogs' past conduct, that they were likely, if not restrained, to do an act from which a reasonable person could foresee. Of particular importance to the court, was the lease provision, which the court felt contractually obligated the landlord to retain control over defendant's dogs.
|People v. Schneider||2004 WL 2191322 (Ca. App. 3 Dist.)||
Defendant's dogs escaped from Defendant's yard and attacked and killed a six-year-old boy. The trial court convicted Defendant of owning a mischievous animal that causes death and involuntary manslaughter. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the trial court's conviction for owning a mischievous animal that causes death due to erroneous jury instructions.
|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.
|Auster v. Norwalk United Methodist Church (Unpublished)||2004 WL 423189 (Conn.Super.,2004) (only Westlaw citation available)||
In this unpublished Connecticut opinion, the defendant-church owned property and leased a portion of the premises to one of its employees, Pedro Salinas. The plaintiff was attacked by a dog, owned by Salinas, while lawfully on the defendant's premises. The plaintiff appealed a summary judgment ruling in favor of defendant. On appeal, the court found that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether defendant-church was a "harborer" of the dog under Connecticut law. Because Salinas and the church had no formal lease agreement, dispute existed as to the exact parameters of Salinas' exclusive control of the premises where his dog roamed. There also existed a material fact regarding the church's knowledge of the dog's vicious propensities because it had twice previously attacked a person. (Note the jury trial decision in favor of plaintiff was later overturned in Auster v. Norwalk United Methodist Church , --- A.2d ----, 94 Conn.App. 617, 2006 WL 797892 (Conn.App.)).
|Prasad v. Wepruk||2004CarswellBC946||
Plaintiff Prasad, an elderly newpaper-deliverer, was attacked in the street by defendant owner Wepruk's usually chained guard-dog, which escaped due to a rusted chain. The court found the defendant strictly liable under the doctrine of scienter's subjective test: he knew the dog was aggressive, but kept it anyway and it harmed Prasad. He was also liable under the objective test for negligence, for not taking reasonable precautions to ensure the dog's chain was in good repair, in order to prevent foreseeable harm to others. damages of $35,000 were awarded for Prasad's injuries and lost future earnings.
|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.
|People v. Beauvil||2008 WL 2685893; 872 N.Y.S.2d 692 (Table), (N.Y.Just.Ct.,2008)||
This New York case came before this Court after the District Attorney refused to prosecute the case. The complaintant alleged that on April 16, 2008, he was walking down a public sidewalk when a loose dog, later identified as belonging to the defendants, ran up to and bit the complainant on the hand. Police were contacted and a complaint was made to the Village of Westbury Attorney who then advised the complainant to file a formal complaint with the Nassau County District Attorney's office. The District Attorney's office declined to prosecute and instead suggested that the Village handle the matter. This Court held that it has no jurisdiction to hear the misdemeanor charge stemming from the violation of Agriculture & Markets Law § 121 (but then did list the other avenues available for the complaintant). This Court, sua sponte, also held that the Agriculture & Markets Law § 121, as applied to Nassau County Village Justice Courts, is unconstitutional. This was due to the fact that Village Courts have no jurisdiction (or ability, as pointed out by the court) to hear misdemeanors.
|McAllister v. Wiegand||2009CarswellOnt189||
The plaintiff, a 55-year old woman and recent acquaintance of the defendants, was bitten on the cheek by the defendant's bull mastiff dog, resulting in a spreading infection and loss of all her teeth. The plaintiff was an invited guest in the defendant's home where she had been on 3-4 prior occasions. There was a question over whether the incident arose when the plaintiff startled the dog from sleep by petting it while bending over it, or whether the dog had just awakened when it was petted and bit her. The court found that dog and plaintiff were familiar with each other and there was nothing provocative that should have caused the dog to retaliate. Thus according to Ontario's Dog Owner Liability Act, where owners are strictly or absolutely liable for their dogs' injuries to others, the defendants were strictly liable to the plaintiff for her injuries.
|Berg v. Nguyen||201 So. 3d 1185 (Ala. Civ. App. 2016)||This Alabama case involves the appeal of summary judgment on behalf of defendants in a personal injury dog bite case. The plaintiff here was bitten as she walked through a parking lot of the retail store adjacent to the residence where the dogs were kept. The dogs (six or seven pit bulls) were kept by defendants' tenants at the residence. Some of the dogs were kept in outdoor, chain-link kennels and others were allowed to remain in the fenced backyard. Plaintiff Berg filed a complaint against the Nguyens and their business under a theory of landlord-tenant liability for the dog bite. The lower court granted the Nguyens' motion for summary judgment, finding that Alabama law does not provide for landlord liability in this case. On appeal here, the court was persuaded by defendants' evidence that they did not know of the dog's dangerous propensity and were aware of only two occasions where animal control had been called. Further, there were only a few times Than Nguyen was aware the dogs were left unchained in the front yard. This was sufficient for the court to find that plaintiff did not meet her burden establishing that the Nguyens knew or should have known of any dangerous propensities of the dog that bit plaintiff. As to the issue of defendants' knowledge that pit bulls were "inherently dangerous," the court held that the Alabama Supreme Court in Humphries established that breed alone is insufficient to impute knowledge. Summary judgment was affirmed.|
|Anderson v. City of Camden||2011 WL 4703104 (2011)||
Defendant Animal Control officers took Plaintiffs' two dogs pursuant to a pick-up order issued by a Magistrate of Kershaw County. The two dogs had a history of attacking other dogs and of running loose. Plaintiffs filed Fourth Amendment and South Carolina Tort Claims Act claims against Defendants. Court granted Defendants' motions for summary judgment because they did not violate a clearly established constitutional law, and were, therefore, entitled to qualified immunity from Plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim.
|Howle v. Aqua Illinois, Inc.||2012 IL App (4th) 120207 (Ill.App. 4 Dist.)||As the result of a dog bite on the defendant’s rental property, the plaintiff suffered a torn cheek and irreparable damage to her ear. The plaintiff therefore attempted to recover damages from the defendant on the common law theory of negligence and through Illinois’ Animal Control Act. The trial court, however, dismissed the Animal Control Act claim and, later, granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the negligence claim. Upon appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision, though it stated a motion for summary judgment was more appropriate then the motion to dismiss for the Animal Control Act claim.|
|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.|
|Powell v. Adlerhorst Int'l, Inc.||2015 WL 6756126 (D. Or. Nov. 4, 2015) (unpublished)||The plaintiff in this case brought suit after suffering a dog bite from a service dog that was purchased from defendant. The defendant was a corporation that purchased dogs from Europe and then sold them to police agencies to be used as service dogs. Plaintiff (a police officer with the Sherwood Police Department) filed suit asserting both a strict product liability and negligence claim for injuries sustained from dog bites. At issue here is whether the dog was defective and unreasonably dangerous at the time the defendant sold it to the City of Sherwood. Defendant moved for summary judgment and the court denied the motion. The court ultimately held that a reasonable jury could find that defendant should have known about the dog’s aggressive behavior before selling it to plaintiff, thus making it liable for damages.|
|Franciscus v. Sevdik||2016 PA Super 52 (Feb. 29, 2016)||Five-year-old Femina asked the dog walker, Ms. Dailey, if she could pet Julius, the pit bull. When she bent over to do so, the dog jumped up and bit her on the chin. The Plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Franciscus commenced this negligence action to recover damages for injuries sustained by their daughter, Femina. They filed the action against Mr. Sevdik, the owner of the dog, Ms. Dailey, the dog walker, and Mr. Steigerwald, the individual owner and operator of Fetch Pet Care of West Hills/South Hills. The Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that summary judgment granted by the trial court in favor of Ms. Dailey and Fetch Pet Care was improper. The Court reasoned that the dog was entrusted to these Defendants by Mr. Sevdik and the dog was in their control when the injury occurred. Since the Defendants knew the dog jumped on people, was to be muzzled when walked, and was not to be walked along routes where there were people, specifically children and other dogs, they had a duty to use reasonable care to protect others from harm while the dog was in their control. While the court stated it did not need to reach the issue of whether the trial court erred in refusing refusing to take judicial notice of dangerous propensities of pit bulls, it noted that Pennsylvania law does not recognize a presumption that pit bulls as a breed are dangerous or have dangerous propensities. The order was vacated and the case was remanded.|
|Gill Terrace Ret. Apartments, Inc. v. Johnson||2017 VT 88, 177 A.3d 1087 (Vt. 2017)||This is an appeal of a trial court's ruling in favor of a landlord finding that the tenant violated two material terms of her residential rental agreement. One of the material violations involved the keeping of a pet in violation of a no-pets policy. The facts show that the dog, "Dutchess," initially came to the tenant's apartment in 2009 with the tenant's son. While the dog never attacked another person or pet, it did display aggressive behavior, including lunging, baring her teeth, and rearing up on her hind legs. Other tenants expressed fear of Dutchess. After the son moved out in 2013, the dog stayed, and, in 2014, the landlord sent tenant a letter indicating the keeping of the dog was a violation of the lease. Two months after that notice, an informal meeting was held and tenant then claimed the dog as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. The landlord's attorney sent paperwork to effectuate this request, which the tenant said she never received. Months later, the landlord served the tenant with an eviction action to which tenant responded with a request to keep her dog as a reasonable accommodation. The request to keep a pet as a reasonable accommodation was granted shortly thereafter by landlord; however, the landlord did not approve of Dutchess as the specific animal due to concerns of behavior and hostility toward other residents. At an eviction hearing in June of 2016, the landlord's request to terminate the tenant's lease was granted by the court, which concluded that the reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal did not extend to Dutchess. On appeal, the Vermont Supreme Court noted that a request for an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation may be denied if "the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others." While there was no dispute in this case that the tenant has a disability-related need for an ESA, there was credible evidence that supported the lower court's decision that Dutchess posed a threat and/or would cause substantial physical damage to the property. This included testimony from other tenants and tenant's own statements that she might not be able to control Dutchess. The court stated: "[l]ike the trial court, we acknowledge tenant's attachment to Dutchess and her need for an emotional support animal, but the court properly weighed the evidence regarding Dutchess's aggressive behavior against landlord's concerns for the safety and wellbeing of the other residents." The court concluded that the lower court did not err in affirming landlord's denial of tenant's reasonable accommodation request.|
|SEIDNER v. DILL||206 N.E.2d 636 (Ind.App. 1965)||
Charles Dill, appellee, brought this action in the Municipal Court of Marion County, Indiana, therein alleging that the defendant-appellant, Harold Seidner, maliciously and intentionally shot and killed plaintiff's dog. The case essentially involved a companion animal that was shot and killed by the defendant neighbor who alleged that the dog was after his livestock. A statute in Indiana provided that a person was authorized to kill a dog “known” for “roaming” that harmed or threatened to harm the livestock. A verdict of six hundred dollars for the wrongful killing of the dog was affirmed. This case, however, was subsequently overruled by Puckett v. Miller , 178 Ind. App. 174 (Ind. App. Ct. 1978).
|Arellano v. Broward||207 So. 3d 351 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016)||
Plaintiff Lisa Arellano suffered a dog bite and injury to her big toe after being attacked by a guard dog. The Defendant, Broward K–9/Miami K–9 Services, Inc. (“K–9”), owned two guard dogs. The guard dogs escaped K-9 after the business was burglarized, and the chain link fence was cut. The dogs entered Arellano’s neighborhood and she believed that the dogs belonged to one of her neighbors. Arellano fed and sheltered the dogs for about five days, and took steps to find the dogs' owner. However, Arellano also had pet dogs of her own. Eventually, one of the guard dogs attacked one of Arellano's dogs. When Arellano intervened in the attack between the two dogs, she was injured. Eventually, Animal Control determined that K–9 owned the guard dogs. Arellano then brought a statuory damages claim for strict liability against K-9 under Florida’s dog bite statute. The Circuit Court, Miami–Dade County, entered summary judgment in favor of K-9 and determined as a matter of law, that Arellano's actions constituted a superseding, intervening cause, thereby precluding her statutory dog bite claim against the Defendant, K-9. Plaintiff, Arellano appealed. The District Court of Appeals, held that triable issues of fact existed as to whether, and to what extent, K-9's liability under the statute should be reduced because of allegedly negligent actions by Arellano. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the circuit court decision and reasoned that Florida's dog bite statute imposes strict liability on dog owners, subject only to a plaintiff's comparative negligence, which in this case must be determined by the trier-of-fact. K-9's liability under the statute should only be reduced because of the allegedly negligent actions of Arellano. The court also reversed the resulting cost judgment in K–9's favor. The case was remanded to the trial court.
|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.
|Bess v. Bracken County Fiscal Court||210 S.W.3d 177 (Ky.App.,2006)||
The primary issue in this Kentucky case is whether a Bracken County ordinance which bans the possession of pit bull terriers is inconsistent with the state law that addresses dangerous dogs. The lower court denied the plaintiff's motion and dismissed the complaint. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the ban of breed was a legitimate exercise of police power and did not deny dog owners procedural due process. Further, the ordinance did not infringe on constitutional right to travel because traveling with a pet is not a fundamental right and the ordinance does not treat residents and non-residents differently.
|People v. Flores||216 Cal. App. 4th 251, 156 Cal. Rptr. 3d 648 (Cal.App. 1 Dist.), review denied (Aug. 21, 2013)||
Defendant Flores appeals his conviction under Penal Code section 399 for allowing a " mischievous animal" owned by him to cause serious injury to another person. In this case, defendant's pit bull dog, "Blue,"attacked defendant's almost 90-year old neighbor on his own property causing deep injuries to his leg. Blue had been previously involved in three other incidents where he either tried to attack other dogs or acted aggressively toward other humans. As a result of these incidents, Sonoma County officials issued defendant a issued a potentially dangerous animal warning. On appeal, defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence that he acted without ordinary care in keeping his dog and that the victim-neighbor did not suffer a serious injury as defined by statute. The court found both of these arguments without merit. While defendant suggested that he acted with "ordinary care" by keeping the dog tethered and chained outside on the day of the incident, the court found the evidence showed Blue had broken free in the past and had "massive strength." Further, even though the potentially dangerous dog designation by the county did not mandate that Blue be kept inside or in a secure enclosure, the ordinance language provides this requirement. Leaving a dog with a history of unprovoked attacks chained next to a public sidewalk in a residential neighborhood supported the jury's conclusion that defendant did not act as reasonably careful person would in the same situation. As to the serious bodily injury claim, the court noted that although the law does not define the term, there was substantial medical evidence to support the jury's determination. Affirmed.
|Lundy v. California Realty||216 Cal.Rptr. 575 (Cal.App.4.Dist.)||
The Court of Appeals held that an owner of a dog may be held liable for injuries inflicted by it on another person without any showing the dog had any especially dangerous propensities or that the owner knew of any such dangerous propensities. However, to impose liability on someone other than the owner, even a keeper, previous knowledge of the dog's vicious nature must appear. Aside from the rental agreement, the property owners knew nothing whatever about the dog. Thus, the facts before the trial court fell far short of creating a triable issue of fact as to defendant property owners' knowledge of any dangerous propensities on the part of the tenant's dog. "Neither do we believe judicial notice may be taken that all German shepherds are dangerous. Nor can defendants' knowledge of any dangerous propensity of the dog be inferred simply because they knew his name was Thunder."
|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.
|Katsaris v. Cook||225 Cal.Rptr. 531 (Cal.App. 1 Dist., 1986)||
Plaintiff's neighbor, a livestock rancher, shot plaintiff's sheepdogs after they escaped and trespassed on his property. As a matter of first impression, the court construed the California Food and Agricultural Code provision that allows one to kill a dog that enters an enclosed or unenclosed livestock confinement area with threat of civil or criminal penalty. The court affirmed defendant's motion with regard to the code provision, finding it gave them a privilege to kill the trespassing dogs. Further, the court found defendants owed no duty to plaintiff thereby denying the claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress as a result of negligence in supervising the ranchhand who killed the dogs. With regard to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, plaintiffs cite the manner in which the dogs were killed and then dumped in a ditch and the fact defendant denied knowing the fate of the dogs. Relying on the "extreme and outrageous conduct" test, the court held that the defendant's conduct did not fall within the statutory privilege and remanded the issue to the trial court for consideration.
|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.
|Phillips v. San Luis Obispo County Dept.||228 Cal.Rptr. 101 Cal.App. (2 Dist.,1986)||
In this case, the owners of dog petitioned for writ of mandamus requesting vacation of destruction order and declaration that ordinances under which the dog was seized were unconstitutional. The Court of Appeal held that due process required that owners have hearing prior to seizure of or destruction of dog (a property interest) and that a "courtesy hearing" did not satisfy due process requirements. Further, the court concluded that the ordinances here were unconstitutional for failing to provide for notice and a hearing either before or after the seizure of an uncontrollable biting or vicious dog.
|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.
|Sligar v. Odell||233 P.3d 914 (Wash.App. Div. 1, 2010)||
In this Washington case, plaintiff Sligar was bitten on the finger by the Odells' dog after Sligar's finger protruded through a hole in the six-foot high chain link fence that separated their two properties. The court found the dispositive question was whether, pursuant to RCW 16.08.040 and .050 (a law that defines when entry onto the property of the dog owner is for a lawful purpose) Sligar's finger was “lawfully in or on ... the property of the” Odells at the time of the dog bite. The court found that the statute provides that consent may not be presumed where the property is fenced. Concerning the common law negligence claim, Sligar contends that the Odells were negligent in failing to protect her from harm because they failed to erect a solid fence on the property boundary until after the bite occurred. However, the court had previously found that it is not unreasonable to keep a dog in a fenced backyard where the dog has not shown any dangerous propensities.
|State v. Blatt||235 W. Va. 489 (2015)||The Circuit Court of Wayne County ordered that Tinkerbell, a female pit bull terrier, be destroyed pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute, after she injured a neighbor child who was playing in the dog’s yard. The circuit court's decision ordering that Tinkerbell be destroyed relied on a presumption that pit bull dog breeds are inherently vicious. Because extensive debate exists over whether scientific evidence and social concerns justify breed-specific presumptions, the court concluded that courts may not, upon judicial notice, rely solely upon a breed-specific presumption in ordering the destruction of a dog pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute. The adoption of breed-specific presumptions with regard to this statute is the prerogative of the Legislature, not the judiciary, the court stated. In the absence of a breed-specific presumption, the court determined that neither the remaining findings of fact in the circuit court's destruction order nor the facts presented in the record provided satisfactory proof that Tinkerbell must be euthanized. Consequently, the court reversed the circuit court's destruction order.|
|Gonzales v. Kissner||24 So.3d 214 ((La.App. 1 Cir.,2009)||
This Louisiana case concerns an action for personal injuries sustained by an animal control officer who was mauled about the head and neck by defendants' dog while investigating a complaint of an attack by the dog from the previous day. The dog's owners argued on appeal that the trial court failed to apply the Professional Rescuer's Doctrine, sometimes referred to as the “fireman's rule." Because under the facts here, where the dog had previously escaped after being confined in the house and the defendants failed to properly lock the house and/or restrain the dog, the court did not find that Ms. Gonzales' recovery for injuries was barred by the Professional Rescuer's Doctrine. The court held that based upon the record before this court, there was no error on the part of the trial court that warranted reversal of the plaintiff's motion for a partial summary judgment as to the liability of the dog's owners.
|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.|
|People v. Beam||244 Mich.App. 103 (2000)||
Defendant was charged with owning a dog, trained or used for fighting, that caused the death of a person and filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that M.C.L. § 750.49(10); MSA 28.244(10) was unconstitutionally vague. The court granted defendant's motion, finding the terms "without provocation" and "owner" to be vague, and dismissed the case. The prosecutor appealed, and the Court of Appeals held that statute was not unconstitutionally vague. Reversed.
|Banks v. Adair||251 S.E.2d 88 (Ga.App., 1978)||
In this Georgia dog bite case, plaintiffs appealed a directed verdict for the defendant. The Court of Appeals held that the verdict was properly directed for defendant where there was no evidence that established the defendant's knowledge of his dog's propensity to bite or injure humans.
|Bushnell v. Mott||254 S.W.3d 451 (Tex.,2008)||
In this Texas case, the plaintiff (Bushnell) brought an action against the defendant (Mott) for her injuries sustained when defendant's dogs attacked plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment to defendant. The Texas Supreme Court reversed, and held that the owner of a dog not known to be vicious owes a duty to attempt to stop the dog from attacking a person after the attack has begun, and Mott's behavior after the attack had begun raises an issue of material fact whether Mott failed to exercise ordinary care over her dogs.
|Carter v. Metro North Associates||255 A.D.2d 251, 1998 N.Y. Slip Op. 10266 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,1998)||
In this New York case, a tenant sued his landlords for injuries after he was bitten on face by pit bull owned by another tenant. The lower court denied the landlords' motion for summary judgment and granted partial summary judgment for tenant on issue of liability. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division held that the trial court erroneously took judicial notice of vicious nature of breed of pit bulls as a whole. In fact, the court found that the IAS court "erred in circumventing the requirement for evidence concerning the particular animal by purporting to take judicial notice of the vicious nature of the breed as a whole." Thus, the landlords were not strictly liable for the tenant's injuries where there was no evidence indicating that the dog had ever attacked any other person or previously displayed any vicious behavior.
|Prays v. Perryman||262 Cal.Rptr. 180 (Cal.App.2.Dist.)||
In an action by a commercial pet groomer against a dog owner for injuries suffered by a dog bite, the trial court found as a matter of law that plaintiff had assumed the risk of a dog bite, and on that basis granted summary judgment in defendant's favor. At the time plaintiff was bitten, she had not yet begun to groom the dog and, in fact, had expressed to defendant her concern whether it was safe for her to do so since the dog was excited and growling. The Court of Appeal reversed. Assuming the veterinarian's rule extended to pet groomers, making the defense of assumption of risk available, it held that plaintiff had not as a matter of law assumed the risk of being bitten since, at the time of the bite, the dog was still under the exclusive control of defendant, who had uncaged it and was holding it on a leash.
|HAGEN v. LAURSEN||263 P.2d 489 (Cal.App. 3 Dist. 1953)||
Two Irish setters knocked down a neighbor while playing outside. Previously no one had seen them run into anyone while playing. They were not shown to have been more boisterous than dogs usually are. There was no evidence that these dogs were vicious. The court found that there was no foreseeable risk of harm and therefore no duty upon which to base a claim of negligence.
|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.
|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.
|Krzywicki v. Galletti||27 N.E.3d 991 (Oh Ct . App., 2015)||Appellant commenced an action against defendant boyfriend, the owner of the dog that bit her, and his business, which she held was strictly liable for the injuries she suffered, where the attack occurred. The claims against defendant boyfriend were dismissed with prejudice. A jury verdict, however, found that although the business was a “harborer” of the dog, appellant was barred from recovery because she was a “keeper of the dog in that she had physical care or charge of dog, temporary or otherwise, at the time of the incident.” Appellant appealed, raising seven assignments of error for review. In addressing appellant’s claims, the Ohio Court of Appeals held that the status of an individual as an owner, keeper or harborer was relevant when deciding if an individual was barred from availing him or herself of the protections afforded by liability statutes. The court of appeals also ruled that the trial court properly gave the jury instruction and that the jury’s verdict was not “defective.” Further the court held that the testimony established at trial demonstrated that appellant had a significant relationship with the dog and that there was competent and credible evidence presented at trial to support the business’s position that appellant exercised some degree of management, possession, care custody or control over the dog. The judgment of the lower court was therefore affirmed with Judge Kathleen Ann Keough concurring and Judge Melody Stewart concurring in judgment only.|
|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.
|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.
|Barger v. Jimerson||276 P.2d 744 (Colo. 1954)||
In order for liability to attach in an action for damages for personal injuries resulting from a dog attack, defendants had to have notice of the vicious propensities of their dog. Even though the dog had never attacked a person before, a natural fierceness or disposition to mischief was sufficient to classify the dog as "vicious." Finally, it is permissible for the jury to consider the loss of earning capacity of plaintiff resulting from the injuries as an element of damages.
|Malpezzi v. Ryan||28 A.D.3d 1036||
In this New York case, the plaintiff brought an action to recover for a dog bite sustained when she was walking on a local bike path. The court noted that it has consistently held, “a plaintiff may not recover for injuries sustained in an attack by a dog unless he or she establishes that the dog had vicious propensities and that its owner knew or should have known of such propensities” Here, defendant and his girlfriend testified, without contradiction, that they did not experience any problems with the dog prior to the incident with Malpezzi. Specifically, each testified that Oreo did not display any act of aggression prior to biting Malpezzi. In opposition, plaintiff primarily relies upon the purportedly vicious nature of the attack, the fact that Oreo allegedly was restrained while on defendant's property and Oreo's specific breed. However, the court observed that where, as here, there is no other evidence even suggesting that defendant knew or should have known of Oreo's allegedly vicious propensities, consideration of the dog's breed is irrelevant. As such, Supreme Court erred in denying defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.
|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.