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Not Telling of Guard Dog's Vicious Nature Was Negligent Misrepresentation
Description Appeals court upheld verdict for two persons seriously injured by former prison guard dog they had been given. Prison authorities told the gift recipients that the dog had not bitten anyone, except for one minor incident, when they knew of five unprovoked attacks. Such misinformation was negligent misrepresentation that created liability for plaintiffs' injuries.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligent Misrepresentation; Dangerous Propensities
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts "During the fourteen months it [Lancaster County Prison, LCP] owned Diesel, a 134-pound Rottweiler trained as an attack dog for prisoner control, the dog bit prison guards on five separate occasions. Despite Diesel's demonstrated propensity for unprovoked attacks on humans, LCP brought Diesel to New Jersey and gave him to ... Guard Dogs Unlimited." Within two months, Diesel had attacked and seriously injured the owner of Guard Dogs and an employee. They sued LCP and the jury found LCP liable for negligent misrepresentation involving risk of physical harm. The injured men were awarded about $1.5 million each. LCP appealed.
Decision Affirmed. LCP employees told Guard Dogs that Diesel was "very well trained" and "certified." When asked if he had bitten anyone, the dog handler at LCP lied, said that he had "nipped" him once when he was breaking up a dog fight. As the Restatement (Second) of Torts states: "One who negligently gives false information to another is subject to liability for physical harm caused by action taken by the other in reasonable reliance upon such information...." That standard clearly applies here.
Citation Reynolds v. Lancaster County Prison, - A.2d - (1999 WL 974237, Super. Ct., N.J.)

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