Georgia

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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.

Stolte v. Hammack


After home owner’s roommate was attacked by a pit bull inside the home, the victim filed suit against owner under the vicious animal and the premises liability statutes. The Court of Appeals held that, because the roommate knew about the dog’s vicious propensity to the same extent as the owner, the owner was not liable. Plaintiff must present evidence that the owner had superior knowledge of the dog's temperament for the owner to be liable.

Sutton v. Sutton Plaintiff brought an action in tort against his father for injuries incurred in attempting to help his father and younger brother recapture an escaped bull. The defendant appeals from judgment for the plaintiff.
Swanson v. Tackling This is an interlocutory appeal by the dog owners (the Swansons) in a personal injury lawsuit for a dog bite. The court in this case overruled the lower court’s ruling that the defendant was not entitled to summary judgement after defendant’s dog bit a child but the dog had never shown a propensity to injure anyone prior to the incident. Plaintiff was suing defendant after defendant’s dog bit plaintiff’s child on the arm and head. Plaintiff argued that defendant is responsible for the injuries caused by the dog because the defendant neglected to properly restrain the dog. The court reversed the lower court’s decision and held in favor of defendant, stating that there was no evidence that was presented to indicate that defendant could have or should have known that the dog would act in this way towards the child. In order to prevail, the plaintiff needed to present evidence that the dog had acted in a similar way in the past.
Taft v. Taft

In this Georgia case, an adult son, who was business invitee, brought an action against his father to recover for injuries sustained when he was attacked by his father's bull while attempting to corral it for market. The lower court entered judgment for son, and father then appealed. The Court of Appeals, held that it for the jury to determine questions as to proximate cause, viciousness of bull, assumption of risk, superior or equal knowledge, contributory negligence, and negligence of the plaintiff. The failure of the trial court to charge adequately on proximate cause required a reversal, notwithstanding appellant's lack of a timely and proper request for a specific proximate cause charge. Judgment reversed.
Taylor v. Howren


A family friend wanted to ride a horse and the horse owner told him it was rideable, despite knowing the horse was not fully trained yet.  The family friend sued after being kicked in the eye, knocked unconscious and paralyzed by the horse.  The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's entry of summary judgment for the horse owner on the basis that there was still a genuine issue of material fact as to the horse owner's immunity under the Equine Activities Act. 

Tiller v. State


Defendant argued that being in "possession" of neglected, suffering animals was not a crime. The court held that where a veterinarian testified that the horses were anemic and malnourished and where defendant testified that he had not purchased enough to feed them, the evidence was sufficient to authorize the jury to find defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of seven counts of cruelty to animals. The court held the trial court did not err in admitting a videotape depicting the horses' condition and that of the pasture when the horses were seized, where the videotape was relevant to the jury's consideration.

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