SW Legal studies in Business

Guest Did Not Provoke Dog to Bite Her; Homeowners Liable
Description Appeals court held that under the Michigan dog-bite statute, dog owners have near absolute liability for injuries inflicted by their dogs. Since the child who was bitten did not provoke the dog and had not been warned of the dog's behavior, the homeowners were liable for injuries inflicted by their dog.
Topic Torts
Key Words Social Guest; Dog Bite Statute
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bradacs, then twelve years old, was playing on the back porch of her friend's home with the homeowners' daughter, Julie. While they were playing, Julie fed the family dog on the porch. Bradacs was standing very close to the dog bowl while the dog was eating. Bradacs dropped a ball about two feet from the dog. When she reached to pick it up, the dog bit her leg. The injury required six stitches. She recovered but has two scars. She sued the home owners under the Michigan dog-bite statute. The jury held for the defendant homeowners. Bradacs appealed.
Decision Reversed and remanded. The dog-bite statute creates an almost absolute liability. The dog owner is not liable for the damages only if the plaintiff provokes the dog. Bradacs had not been warned about the dog. Her conduct by picking up something dropped two feet from the dog was not "provocation" sufficient to relieve the homeowners of liability. The dog's actions were unusually aggressive and Bradacs did not do anything unusual under the circumstances.
Citation Bradacs v. Jiacobone, 244 Mich.App. 263 (2001 WL 29096, Ct. App., Mich., 2001)

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