Owner May Be Liable for Dog Bite Attack
Facts: A resident’s dog attacked a woman as she walked by the site on a roadway. The dog-bite victim sued the site owner for negligence for failing to: (1) adequately screen his residents; (2) enter into an agreement whereby the residents were prohibited from having and keeping vicious dogs; (3) adequately inspect the premises; and (4) comply with legal requirements under state and federal law for ownership of rental property; as well as “other specifications of negligence to be proven at trial.”
The owner asked the trial court to dismiss the case. He asserted that even assuming that all the facts alleged in the complaint were true, the victim failed to state a claim against him because any and all injuries that she suffered were the result of a dog attack and were not the result of injuries arising from defective construction or from injuries arising from the failure to keep the site in repair.
The victim then amended her complaint, alleging that the owner failed the keep the premises in repair by: (1) not installing an appropriate gate on the deck from which the dog escaped and attacked her; (2) failing to install fencing in the yard after having knowledge of the presence of the dog; and (3) failing to make other repairs to be shown at trial. The victim further claimed that the owner was negligent and reckless for failing to comply with federal law governing “Housing Quality Standards” for Section 8 housing. The trial court granted the owner’s request to dismiss the case, and the victim appealed.
Ruling: A Georgia appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss and ordered the trial to continue.
Reasoning: The appeals court found that it was possible for the victim to introduce evidence showing that the owner had failed to make repairs to the site, and that such failures resulted in the injuries she allegedly suffered. Therefore, the trial court erred in dismissing the claim against the owner for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
- Forsh v. Williams, March 2013