Georgia

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Titlesort descending Summary
Ranwez v. Roberts


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.

Ranwez v. Roberts


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.

Roper v. Greenway


The Georgia Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals in

Greenway v. Northside Hosp., Inc

., 317 Ga.App. 371, 730 S.E.2d 742 (2012), to determine if the Court erred in finding that the deputy involved in that case was entitled to official immunity in connection with the euthanization of two dogs. The plaintiff-dog owner sued a hospital, animal control officers, and sheriffs after he was pressured to sign a release form to euthanize his dogs when he was admitted to the hospital. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's ruling of summary judgment for Roper, the hospital, and the animal shelter operator. Specifically, the Court of Appeals found that the doctrine of official immunity insulated Roper from liability from his decision to ask Greenway to sign the form, but not from the actual execution of that decision. In the instant action, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals' judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court noted that whether Roper's actions were malicious were beyond the scope of this writ of certiorari.


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Rowlette v. Paul

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.

SIRMANS v. THE STATE


Criminal defendant was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty and one count of simple assault. The motion to suppress was properly denied, because the search was authorized under the "plain view" doctrine and any objections regarding photographs were subsequently waived when they were tendered into evidence without objection. The trial court did not have authority to deprive defendant of animals which the State failed to demonstrate were neglected or abused, because such animals were not contraband or evidence of a crime.

State v. Peabody This Georgia case involves a former police lieutenant who was indicted on two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals after he left his K-9 named Inka locked in his police vehicle while he attended to tasks inside his home. The dog died after being left inside the vehicle, which had all doors and windows closed with no A/C or ventilation running. The state appeals the trial court's grant of defendant's motion to quash the indictment. Specifically, the state argues that OCGA § 17-7-52 (a law that requires at least a 20-day notice prior to presentment of a proposed indictment to a grand jury when a peace officer is charged with a crime that occurred in the performance of his or her duties) is inapplicable. The state did not send defendant a copy of the proposed indictment before it presented the case to the grand jury. The state contends defendant "stepped aside" from his police-related duties and was therefore not afforded the protections of OCGA § 17-7-52. This court disagreed with that assessment. Since Peabody was responsible for the care and housing of Inka as her K-9 handler, leaving her unattended, albeit in an illegal manner, was still in performance of his police duties. As such, Peabody was entitled to the procedural protections of the statute according to the appellate court. The trial court's motion to quash his indictment was affirmed.
State v. Pless


In this Georgia case, the defendant was convicted by a jury in the trial court of two counts of failure to keep an animal under restraint and one count of allowing an animal to become a public nuisance. Defendant appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. The appellate court found that the evidence showed that in the months prior to the July 14 and August 1 incidents, Pless's dogs were repeatedly found loose in neighbors' yards and garages. Accordingly, evidence supported the conviction on the charge of allowing an animal to become a public nuisance under § 3-4-7(5). ("Public nuisance" is defined, among other things, as any animal which "[i]s found repeatedly at large."). On certiorari review, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded the issue was not properly before the Court of Appeals and there was no authority for the court to address it sua sponte.

Steagald v. Eason

In this case, Gary and Lori Steagald sued the Eason family, alleging that the Easons failed to keep their dog properly restrained and were therefore liable under OCGA § 51-2-7. Lori Steagald suffered injuries after the Easons dog attacked her while she was visiting the Easons home. The Easons filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that they had no reason to know that the dog was vicious or dangerous and therefore were not liable under the statute. Both the trial court and Court of Appeals affirmed the motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the lower court’s decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Georgia found that the Eason family was liable under the statute because they did have reason to believe that the dog could potentially be vicious or dangerous. The Court focused on the fact that the dog had previously “growled and snapped” at the Easons while being fed. The Court held that although the dog had never bit anyone prior to Lori Steagald, it was reasonable to assume that the dog could potentially bite and injure someone given the fact that it had a history of snapping and growling. As a result, the Court reversed the Easons motion for summary judgment and determined that the question of whether or not the Easons are liable under the statute is a question for the jury. 

Stennette v. Miller


Plaintiff Stennette was providing in-home nursing care while she was bitten multiple times by Defendant Miller's dog. Stennette appeals from the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Miller in Stennette's personal injury action. This Court affirmed that decision because Stennette failed to provide adequate evidence showing triable issues on whether the dog had a vicious propensity and whether Miller knew of that propensity. However, the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment as to Miller on Stennette's claim that Miller negligently performed a voluntarily-undertaken duty to keep the dog away from her when she was at the house, because the evidence created genuine issues of material fact as to this claim.

Stephens v. State



Defendant was accused and convicted of 17 counts of cruelty to animals for harboring fighting dogs in deplorable conditions. Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and the probation terms. The appellate court found, in light of the evidence, any rational trier of fact could have found the elements of cruelty to animals beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, defendant failed to overcome the presumption that the probation the trial court imposed was correct.

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