Court dismisses dog bite claim brought against landlord for "harboring a dangerous animal"
Diane James was mauled by an Akita owned by a woman named Gutherie. She attempted to sue Gutherie and Gutherie's landlord, arguing that the landlord knew Gutherie was keeping a pair of Akitas, which she claimed are known to be dogs with a vicious propensity. The landlord sought summary disposition even before discovery was completed, arguing that James could not prove that the landlord had any knowledge of the presence of a vicious dog. The judge granted summary disposition and James appealed.
James argued she should have been allowed to investigate the landlord's records of its inspection of the property, and also argued that the judge failed to consider an Affidavit in which she claimed that Gutherie had confirmed facts implying knowledge on the part of the landlord. The higher curt ruled that under a recent decision of the Supreme Court, a landlord owes no duty to investigate the presence of a vicious dog and that in this case James had presented no admissible testimony documenting the landlord's knowledge.
The Court of Appeals also held that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in refusing to delay a decision until James had qan opportunity to investigate the record or result of the landlord' property inspection.