Dispute among "horsey" set in Oakland County addresses stray dogs and leash ordinance
Kallie Roesner and her neighbors Robert Tyler and Helen Hourdakis have engaged in a long-running dispute over property boundaries, alleged stalking, trespass, assault and whatever other neighborly conduct can be accompanied by a "hand gesture." Eventually, Roesner filed a lawsuit (not the first between them) alleging that the Defendants' dogs had run into the road and startled the horse she was riding, causing her to suffer a broken nose, a herniated disk, "whiplash" and a wrist injury. The Circuit Court judge dismissed her various claims, including her claim that the defendants' loose dogs violated Oakland County's leash ordinance. On appeal, the Court of Appeals upheld most of the dismissal, but reinstated the injury claim arising out of the violation of the leash ordinance.The appellate judges noted that contrary to the lower court's holding, the leash law does not require that the owner intend for a dog to leave the owner's property in order to constitute a violation. If an owner inadvertently "allows" a dog to run into the road, a presumption of negligence is created. The dog owner must then satisfy the jury that the violation was not a breach of due care. By the same token, the Court explained that the horseback rider was not entitled to summary determination of negligence, because the dog owner is entitled to an opportunity to rebut the presumption of negligence with facts evidencing "due care."