Court of Appeals Reverses: No Liability Where Violation of Leash Law Without Pet Owner's Prior Notice of Pet's Vicious Propensity
Last year we wrote a blog about the case of Petrone v. Fernandez, 53 A.D.3d 221, 862 N.Y.S.2d 522 (2009), an Appellate Division, Second Department decision that held that liability can be imposed when the leash law violation is coupled with affirmative canine behavior such as a dog bite, or an attack upon the plaintiff, or where there is a history of prior violations, even in the absence of a showing that the dog owner or possessor had or should have had knowledge prior to the attack of the dogs vicious propensities. The Second Department was apparently not completely sure of itself and the Appellate Division asked the Court of Appeals if this portion of its order was properly made. The Court of Appeals concluded that it was not. 12 N.Y.3d 546, --- N.E.2d ----, 2009 WL 1585848, N.Y. Slip Op. 04694 (2009). The court held that the liability of the owner of a domestic animal that causes harm is determined solely by the rule of strict liability for harm caused by a domestic animal - the owner must either know or should have known of the animal's vicious propensities. The court explained that a leash law violation is evidence of negligence, and negligence is not a basis upon which to impose liability against the animal owner. In a concurring opinion, Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. stated that he thought that it was wrong to reject negligence altogether as a basis for the liability of an animal owner. He contended negligence by an owner, even without knowledge concerning a domestic animal's [vicious] propensity, may create liability. If you or someone close to you has been attacked by a dog or injured in an accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit for their help. For 50 years spanning 3 generations, we have obtained results for satisfied clients. We have offices in Manhattan and Long Island, handling cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and surrounding areas. To learn more, watch our videos.