Dangerous Dog: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
Morsillo v. Migliano 1985 CarswellOnt 786

The child plaintiff Morsillo was attacked and bitten by a neighbour's pet German Shepherd, which tended to 'bark savagely' at local children, had bitten once before, and was kept in a secure fenced yard and only taken out on a leash and choke-chain. The boy was playing cops and robbers with the owner's son on the owner's front lawn, while the owner's teenaged daughter was taking the leashed dog to the garage, when it escaped and attacked. No provocation of the dog was proven so the owners were found strictly liable under the Dog Owner's Liability Act (which abrogates scienter in that province) and also liable in negligence, with no contributory negligence by the plaintiff; the provincial Ontario Health Insurance Plan was entitled to recover the costs of the plaintiff's care from the defendants.

Motta v. Menendez 46 A.D.3d 685 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2007)

This New York case arose following an incident that occurred on December 13, 2003, in which the appellant's two pit bull terriers entered the petitioner's property, and one of appellant's dogs ("Duke") attacked and injured the petitioner's pet dog. Following a special proceeding, the lower court determined that appellant's pit bull terrier named “Duke” was a dangerous dog and directed that it be destroyed. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division found that the dangerous dog statute in effect on December 13, 2003, did not provide that one dog attacking another was conduct subject to the penalty of destruction (Agriculture and Markets Law former §§ 108, 121).

Muela v. Gomez 343 S.W.3d 491 (Tex.App.-El Paso, 2011)

Defendant Samuel Muela appeals a judgment for damages in the amount of $30,279.45 after plaintiff was attacked by a pit bull. Samuel contends that the evidence is legally insufficient to establish that he owned or possessed the pit bull and thus had no knowledge of its vicious propensities. The court concluded that there is no evidence that Samuel lived at his parents' trailer or owned the pit bull. Additionally, while Samuel did visit his parents' house to feed their pet dog, there was no direct evidence that he had ever seen the pit bull or knew of it. The court reversed and rendered judgment that Gomez take nothing against Samuel.

Nava v. McMillan 176 Cal.Rptr. 473 (Cal.App.2.Dist.)

In a personal injury action brought by a pedestrian who was hit by an automobile when she stepped into a street, the trial court dismissed the complaint against occupiers of land who maintained fenced dogs, which plaintiff alleged frightened her, causing her to step into the street. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that the complaint failed to set forth facts giving rise to tortious liability on the part of the owners of fenced dogs, either on the theory of simple negligence or strict liability.

Nelson v. Lewis 344 N.E.2d 268 (Ill.App. 1976)

Toddler accidentally stepped on the tail of the owner's dog, and the dog responded by scratching her eye, causing permanent damage to the tear duct.  The toddler sought damages under Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 8, para. 366 (1973), arguing that her unintentional act did not constitute provocation.  The court held that provocation under the statute referred to both intentional or unintentional acts.  Because the dog was provoked by the unintentional act, he did not react viciously.

Newport v. Moran 721 P.2d 465 (Or.App.,1986)

In this Oregon case, an action was brought to recover damages for injuries after defendant's dog ran into plaintiff and knocked her down. The lower court entered a verdict against the defendant and she appealed. The Court of Appeals held that, after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff, there was find no evidence that would put defendant on notice that the dog had a potentially dangerous propensity to run into people. Further, without some reason to foresee that the dog was likely to run into people, there was no common-law duty to confine the dog. The evidence also did not warrant submission of the case to the jury on the theory of negligence per se for violation of the dog control ordinance because this risk was not one anticipated by the ordinance. Reversed.

Nutt v. Florio 914 N.E.2d 963 (Mass. Ct. App., 2009)

This Massachusetts case involves an appeal of a summary judgment in favor of the landlord-defendant concerning an unprovoked dog attack. The dog, described as a pit bull terrier, was kept by a tenant of Florio's. The court found that, while the defendants cannot be held strictly liable by virtue the dog's breed, "knowledge of that breed and its propensities may properly be a factor to be considered in determining whether the defendants were negligent under common-law principles." Reviewing the record de novo, the court held that this question and the defendant's knowledge of the dog's propensities, created a genuine issue of material fact. The order of summary judgment for defendant was reversed and the case was remanded.

Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch, L.L.C. v. Lange 326 S.W.3d 549 (Mo.App. E.D., 2010)

A Missouri statute places liability on a dog owner where such dog kills or maims a sheep or "other domestic animal" of another. On December 10, 2006, three dogs of Defendant Glendon Lange entered Oak Creek’s deer breeding farm and killed 21 of Oak Creek's "breeder deer." The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, disagreed with the trial court, finding that "domestic" should have been interpreted by the "plain meaning" of the word, which therefore includes Oak Creek’s breeder deer.

Ott v. Pittman 463 S.E.2d 101 (S.C.App.,1995)

In this South Carolina case, a dog owner brought a negligence action against a hog farmer who shot two of the owner's champion "Treeing Walker Coonhound" dogs. The farmer counterclaimed, alleging damages for the dogs' action and malicious prosecution. The lower court ordered judgment for the dogs' owner (Ott) in the amount of $19,800, finding Pittman 90% liable. On the farmer's appeal, this court upheld the $19,800 award, finding sufficient support based on expert testimony about the specific qualities of the breed.

Parker v. Parker 195 P.3d 428 (Or.App.,2008)

Plaintiff and his 12 year-old quarter horse were visiting defendant at defendant's property when defendant's dog rushed at the horse causing it to run into a steel fence. The horse suffered severe head trauma, which necessitated its later euthanization. Plaintiff filed suit for damages asserting liability under common law negligence and O.R.S. 609.140(1) - the statute that allows an owner to recover double damages where livestock is injured due to being injured, chased, or killed by another person's dog. The appellate court agreed with plaintiff that O.R.S. 609.140(1) creates an statutory cause of action independent from negligence. Further, the court found that plaintiff fell within the class of persons the statute aims to protect because the legislature did not intend to limit the statute's application to property owned by the livestock's owner.

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.

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.

People v. Berry 1 Cal. App. 4th 778 (1991)

In a prosecution arising out of the killing of a two-year-old child by a pit bulldog owned by a neighbor of the victim, the owner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter (Pen. Code, §   192, subd. (b)), keeping a mischievous animal (Pen. Code, §   399), and keeping a fighting dog (Pen. Code, §   597.5, subd. (a)(1)). The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that an instruction that a minor under the age of five years is not required to take precautions, was proper. The court further held that the trial court erred in defining "mischievous" in the jury instruction, however, the erroneous definition was not prejudicial error under any standard of review. The court also held that the scope of defendant's duty owed toward the victim was not defined by Civ. Code, §   3342, the dog-bite statute; nothing in the statute suggests it creates a defense in a criminal action based on the victim's status as a trespasser and on the defendant's negligence.

People v. Flores --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2013 WL 1944000 (Cal.App. 1 Dist.)

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.

People v. Jornov 65 A.D.3d 363, 881 N.Y.S.2d 776 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.,2009)

This New York case stems from an attack on Philip Mueller and his dog by Defendant-Appellant Jornov's "two pit bull-terrier mixed breed dogs.” During proceedings in City Court, the court determined that defendant's dogs were dangerous dogs and directed that they be euthanized. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed the finding that the dogs were dangerous under Agriculture and Markets Law § 121 and Agriculture and Markets Law § 350[5] because there was clear and convincing evidence that the dogs attacked a companion animal and behaved in a manner that a reasonable person would believe posed a serious and imminent threat of serious physical injury or death. However, under the amended version of the statute, a judge or justice may not automatically direct humane euthanasia or permanent confinement of a dangerous dog where none of the aggravating circumstances are present.

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. 

Pepper v. Triplet 864 So.2d 181 (La. 2004)

Neighbor sued dog owner for injuries resulting from dog bite.  Supreme Court held that a plaintiff must show that, first, that the injuries could have been prevented by the dog owner and that the plaintiff did not provoke the dog to attack, second, that the dog presented an unreasonable risk of harm, and third, that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care.  Plaintiff did not accomplish this.  Reversed. (Extensive history of state dog bit law.)

Perkins v. Hattery 155 N.E.2d 73 (Ohio App. 1958)

This Ohio case examined the propriety of a county dog warden killing a dog that had killed a sheep nine hours before such seizure.  The Court of Appeals held that dog warden was not authorized to destroy or otherwise dispose of a duly licensed dog found and seized by such warden upon the premises of its owner following a complaint made to the warden by the owner of sheep that the dog had killed certain of his sheep approximately nine hours before such seizure.

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. 

Pickford v. Masion 98 P.3d 1232 (Wa. 2004)

Plaintiffs' dog was mauled by Defendants' dogs and sustained permanent injuries.  The trial court granted summary judgment against Plaintiffs' claims of negligent and malicious infliction of emotional distress.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of partial summary judgment and further held the destruction of the companionship relationship could not be extended to dogs.

Portillo v. Aiassa 32 Cal.Rptr.2d 755 (1994)

In this California case, the plaintiff delivered beer to Race Street Liquors.   As he was leaving the store, he was attacked by a German shepherd   owned by the tenant.   The jury found appellant-landlord did not have actual knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities prior to renewing the commercial lease.   However, the jury found that he would have learned of the dog's dangerous propensities if he had exercised reasonable care in the inspection of his property and that he was negligent in failing to eliminate this dangerous condition. 

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.

Pray v. Whiteskunk 801 N.W.2d 451 (S.D., 2011)

In this South Dakota case, the plaintiff suffered a broken knee after Defendant's Rottweiler brook loose from its owner and ran toward the street, causing plaintiff to fall. Plaintiff brought an action for damages against both the dog owner and the city, specifically alleging the the city knew the dog was dangerous and failed to enforce its vicious animal ordinance. On appeal of the granting of summary judgment for the city, this court found that plaintiff failed to establish that the action taken by the city caused the harm to Pray or exposed her to greater risks, thereby leaving her in a worse position than she was in before the city took action. While this Court found that the city had actual knowledge of the dog's dangerousness, this alone is insufficient.

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.

Priebe v. Nelson 140 P.3d 848 (Cal. 2006)

A kennel worker who was bitten by a dog while the dog was in the care of the kennel sued the owner of the dog under a theory of strict liability under a statute and under the common law. The court found that the dog owner was not liable to the kennel worker because under the "veterinarian's rule," the kennel owner had assumed the risk of being bitten by the dog.

Puckett v. Miller 381 N.E.2d 1087 (Ind.App.,1978)

In this Indiana case, a dog owner brought action against a farmer for the negligent destruction of his two "coon dogs." The lower court granted the farmer's motion for involuntary dismissal, and dog owner appealed. The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff's two dogs, at time they were shot by defendant farmer, were “roaming unattended.” This meant that an attempt to find them had been abandoned, and they were, according to defendant's uncontradicted testimony, trying to get into defendant's chicken enclosure. Thus, defendant farmer was protected in his shooting of those dogs by state statutes that provided that any dog known to have worried any livestock or fowl or any dog found roaming over the country unattended may be lawfully killed.

R. v. Baird 1994 CarswellNWT 58

The defendant, George Baird, was charged on indictment that he caused bodily harm to Amelia Debogorski by criminal negligence stemming from his keeping of dangerous dogs. While the dogs self-evidently proved to be highly dangerous to the victim, there was little evidence of their prior dangerous intent simply because they ran at large. As a result, the court then found that there was reasonable doubt whether the danger was known and recognized by Mr. Baird prior to the attack. The court found that there insufficient proof to find that Baird acted with "wanton and reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.” The court also observed that while there may or may not have been civil negligence, this was not enough to sustain a conviction for criminal negligence.

Rabon v. City of Seattle 957 P.2d 621 (Wash. 1998)

Petitioner dog owner sought an injunction against a Seattle ordinance that allowed the city to destroy a vicious dog once the owner has been found guilty of owning a vicious dog (two lhasa apsos) .  The majority held that the state statute regulating dogs did not preempt field of regulating dangerous dogs and the city ordinance did not irreconcilably conflict with state statute.  Notably, Justice Sanders filed a strong dissent, pointing out that these dogs are the primary companions for the elderly petitioner.  While the state law regulating dangerous dogs allows cities to regulate "potentially dangerous dogs," the Seattle ordinance in question fails to make a distinction between the two types of dogs.  Justice Sanders wrote: "As Mr. Rabon notes, if the City were correct, dog owners and defense attorneys would find themselves arguing the bite was so vicious that the dog qualifies as "dangerous" in order to spare the dog's life."  Thus, the ordinance "eviscerates" the dual definition and violates the overriding state law on dangerous dogs.

Rabon v. City of Seattle (II) 34 P.3d 821 (Wash.App. Div. 1,2001)

This Washington case constitutes plaintiff's second appeal in extended litigation aimed at preventing the City of Seattle from destroying his dogs after a jury convicted him of the criminal charge of owning vicious dogs. The case began when Rabon filed a civil suit seeking an injunction against having his dogs destroyed.  This present appeal is from an order dismissing his constitutional claims against the City on summary judgment.  In affirming the order of summary judgment, this court held that a person's interest in keeping a vicious dog as a pet is not so great as to require a more careful procedure than is provided by Seattle's administrative and hearing process. The fact that plaintiff did not have a right to an immediate pre-deprivation hearing before the dogs were seized and impounded is justified by the strong public interest in prompt action to prevent more attacks. 

Ramapo v. Hi-Tor Animal Care Center, Inc. This court was asked to determine whether a dog shoul be declared dangerous pursuant to section 108 (24) (a) of the Agriculture and Markets Law. The case is unusual in one aspect as the respondent is an animal shelter and the alleged victim is an animal control officer from another township. The Justice Court found the shelter dog was not'Dangerous' pursuant to Agriculture and Markets Law. Interestingly, the court found the reasonable person standard in the statute to be problematic and in need of legislative amendment restoring in appropriate language the consideration of evidence of vicious propensity.
Ramirez v. M.L. Management Co., Inc. 920 So.2d 36 (D. Fla. 2004)

In this Florida dog bite case, the appellant asked the court to limit the application of a case that held that a landlord has no duty to third parties for injuries caused by a tenant's dog where those injuries occur off the leased premises. The child-tenant injured in this case was bitten by the dog of another tenant in a park adjacent to the apartment complex where she lived. The appellate court reversed the grant of summary judgment for the landlord because the boundary of the premises is not dispositive of the landlord's liability.

Ranwez v. Roberts 601 S.E.2d 449 (Ga.App., 2004)

In this Georgia case, after sustaining severe injuries inflicted during a vicious attack by four pit bulls, Helene Ranwez sued her tenant neighbor and the owner of the rental property, Scott Roberts.  The crucial question in this case was whether an out-of-possession landlord has liability for a tenant's dog bite.  Roberts contended that because he had relinquished possession and control of the premises to his tenant, Glenn Forrest, he could not be held liable for Ranwez's injuries as a matter of law.  In affirming the trial court's decision, the appellate court held that an out-of-possession landlord's tort liability to third persons is subject only to the statutory provisions of OCGA § 44-7-14, which makes it clear that a landlord who relinquishes possession of the premises cannot be liable to third parties for damages arising from the negligence of the tenant.

Ranwez v. Roberts 601 S.E.2d 449 (Ga. 2004)

Plaintiff brought claims against her tenant neighbor and the property owner after she was viciously attacked by her tenant neighbor's four pit bulls.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the property owner.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision holding the property owner was an out-of -possession landlord.

Richard v. Hoban 1970CarswellNB126

The child plaintiff was attacked and bitten by a chained German Shepherd after she put her arm around the dog's neck to hug or play with it; she sustained scarring lacerations of her head, cheek and eyelid that required 5 days' hospitalization after plastic surgery. The trial judge earlier held that because the dog, had two months previously, bitten a young boy on the face and ear in an unprovoked attack, the owner had prior knowledge of the dog's propensity to bite children, yet he kept the dog regardless. The owner was thus strictly liable under the doctrine of scienter. The Court of Appeal reversed this holding, with two judges finding that the boy in the earlier attack had been injured accidentally by the dog's dew-claw, rather than being bitten, so that there was insufficient notice to the dog's owner of any vicious propensity; thus he was not strictly liable in scienter.

Roach v. Jackson County 949 P.2d 1227 (Or. 1997)

This is an appeal of a county board and circuit court decision ordering destruction of a dog for chasing livestock.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decision and held that the dog must be killed in a humane manner.

Roberts v. 219 South Atlantic Boulevard, Inc. 914 So.2d 1108 (Fla. 2005)

Defendant brought his dog to work with him as the nightclub's maintenance man. As plaintiff walked by defendant's truck, he was bitten by defendant's dog.  The plaintiff than sued the nightclub for damages due to the bite.  The court granted summary judgment to the defendants stating that the facts of the case did not meet the four prong test that was needed to hold an employer liable for injuries to a third party.

Robinson v. City of Bluefield --- S.E.2d ----2014 WL 5032602 (W. Va. Oct. 2, 2014) An Animal Control Officer responded to a complaint about two dogs at defendant's residence. While investigating the complaint at defendant's residence, the animal control officer was attacked by one of defendant's dogs. The officer sought medical treatment following the incident. The City of Bluefield subsequently brought charges against defendant in its municipal court, charging her with having a dangerous animal in violation of city ordinances. The municipal court ordered the dog killed. On appeal, the Circuit Court of Mercer County affirmed the municipal court's decision. Defendant then appealed the Circuit Court's decision arguing that that Circuit Court erred in concluding that the municipal court had the authority to order the destruction of her dog. After review, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia agreed with defendant and found that under the plain language of W.Va.Code § 19–20–20, the City of Bluefield was required to set forth satisfactory proof that defendant’s dog was “vicious, dangerous, or in the habit of biting or attacking other persons” before a circuit court or a magistrate, not a municipal court. The court therefore found that ordinance was void to the extent that it allowed a municipal court to order the destruction of the dog. The circuit court's order affirming the municipal court's order to kill Ms. Robinson's dog was therefore reversed. Justice Loughry dissents.
Rogers v. State 760 S.W.2d 669 (Tex. App. 1988).

Dog fighting case. Where the dog fighting area was in an open section of woods near the defendant's home, police officers were not required to obtain a search warrant before entering the defendant's property because of the "open fields" doctrine.

Roos v. Loeser 183 P. 204 (Cal.App.1.Dist.,1919)

This is an action for damages alleged to have been sustained by plaintiff by reason of the killing of her dog, of the variety known as Pomeranian, by an Airedale belonging to the defendant. In 1919, a California court determined damages to be limited to the veterinary expenses connected with the injury to the animal. In the opinion, the court lovingly discusses the value of the animal. Notwithstanding these words of praise for the small animal, the court decided that the value was limited to the fair market value and related expenses.

Rowlette v. Paul 466 S.E.2d 37 (Ga. 1995) This Georgia case involved a dog bite to a person who went to went to the Pauls' house in order to verify and update information for the Oglethorpe County Tax Assessor's Office.  The court held that in the absence of any evidence showing that the owners of a dog had knowledge, prior to a mauling incident, that their dog had ever bitten another human being, the owners of the dog were not liable to the victim even though the dog's presence on the premises where the incident occurred was in violation of the county leash law.  In order to support an action for damages under OCGA § 51-2-7, it is necessary to show that the dog was vicious or dangerous and that the owner had knowledge of this fact.
Ruffin v. Wood 95 A.D.3d 1290 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.)

While the plaintiff was tending her garden, the defendant's dog jumped on a chain-linked fence that separated the plaintiff's and defendant's property. Startled, the plaintiff fell and injured herself. As a result of the incident, the plaintiff brought a personal injury suit against the defendant. Finding the dog had no vicious propensities, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant; the plaintiff then appealed and lost.

Russell v. Rivera 780 N.Y.S.2d 699

Passerby sued dog owner for bitten finger.  Held:  because dog had shown no previous vicious propensities, the owner is not strictly liable, and, the owner was not negligent.  Reversed.

Salinas v. Martin 166 Cal.App.4th 404

Construction worker brought negligence action against homeowner for injuries sustained by another contractor's pit-bull dog, after homeowner had given the contractor permission to allow the dog to run loose on homeowner's property. The Court of Appeal, First District, Division 1, California, held that a landlord does not generally owe a duty to protect third parties from injuries by his or her tenant's dangerous dog without actual knowledge of the dog's dangerous propensities and ability to prevent or control the harm. However, a homeowner, who maintains possession of and control over the premises, and thus is not acting as a landlord, is not required to have actual knowledge of a dog's dangerous propensities to owe a duty of care to his or her invitees.  

Sarno v. Kelly 78 A.D.3d 1157 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.. 2010)

A dog bite victim sought damages against absentee landlords after the tenant's bull mastiff dog bit him in right thigh. The deposition testimony of one landlord indicated that he visited the rental house approximately once per month to collect rent and check on the house in general, and only on two of those occasions did he see the dog. During one of these visits, he petted the dog without incident. Thus, the landlord established that he neither knew nor should have known that the dog had vicious propensities, and that he did not have sufficient control over the premises to allow him to remove or confine the dog.

Savory v. Hensick 143 S.W.3d 712 (Mo. 2004)

Contractor brought a premises liability action against homeowners after falling over their dog.  Contractor was descending from a ladder while working on homeowners' premises and stepped on the dog at the base of the ladder.  The trial court held in favor of the contractor because the homeowners' dog made the yard foreseeably dangerous and the appellate court affirmed. 

Sawh v. City of Lino Lakes 823 N.W.2d 627 (Minn.,2012)

A city ordered a dog to be destroyed after three separate biting incidents. Upon the owner’s appeal of the city’s determinations, the appeals court reversed the city’s decision to destroy the dog because the city had not allowed the owner an opportunity to challenge the “potentially dangerous” determination. The appeals court (800 N.W.2d 663 (Minn.App.,2011) held the city had therefore violated the owner’s procedural due process rights. Upon review by the Supreme Court of Minnesota, however, the court held that the owner’s procedural due process rights were not violated because the “potentially dangerous” determination did not deprive the owner of a property interest and because the city satisfied the basic requirements of procedural due process. Additionally, the court found that the dangerous dog and the destruction determinations were not arbitrary or capricious. The court therefore reversed the decision of the court of appeals, upheld the city's “dangerous dog” determination, and affirmed the city's order of destruction.

Sawh v. City of Lino Lakes 800 N.W.2d 663 (Minn.App.,2011)

The city council ordered the destruction of a dog after finding it to be a dangerous animal and the owner appealed. The Court of Appeals held that procedural due process required that the owner should have been given a meaningful opportunity to contest the declaration of the dog as a “potentially dangerous animal” before it was declared a “dangerous animal” under the city ordinance.

Scott v. Donkel 671 So.2d 741 (Ala.Civ.App.,1995)

In this Alabama case, there was an injury to a non-tenant child by a dog bite, and the defendant was a landlord.  The attack occurred off the rented premises in the public street.    The action was based upon negligence, that is, a failure to protect against a dangerous condition.   The key to such a claim is the knowledge of the landlord. Plaintiff presented no evidence of the landlord being aware of the dog let alone that he knew of its vicious propensity.   The court did not find a duty to inspect the premises and discover this information.  The court did not reach the point that the attack occurred off the premises.  The granting of the motion for summary judgment for the landlord was upheld.

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).

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.

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