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Trial lawyers specializing in personal injury and civil litigation

Injury victims "0 for 3" on the day: Summary judgment granted to insurers in all cases, including dob bite.

Brian Stacey, a minor, suffered serious scarring when he was bit by a neighbor's pit bull.  He sued the Colonial Acres Associates, LLC, and Newbury Management Co., the operators of the trailer park where he lived, alleging that they bore some of the responsibility for his injury.  Through his parents, Stacey argued that the Defendants had violated their own rules by allowing the pit bull to live in the trailer park for years, despite the prohibition of several breeds of dogs known to have a propensity for biting or violent behavior.

The Court of Appeals dismissed Brian's claim, holding that the trailer park owners and management owed him no duty and were not responsible for enforcing the rules of the park.    The Court held that a landlord must have actual knowledge of a particular dog's violent propensities and not merely knowledge that a particular breed of dog is dangerous. 

Incredibly, the judges also held that even though the trailer park rules expressly prohibited the ownership or possession of a pit bull, this did not constitute notice to the park owners that any particular pit bull has a dangerous proclivity.  After all, Judges Wilder, Talbot and Servitto ruled, this park rule "did not specify that certain dogs may be dangerous to the community; rather, they simply prohibited certain dog breeds from being brought into the community."  The latter is another example of judicial activism:  judges elevating a  few paragraphs of semantic baloney over common sense.  The breeds prohibited were all breeds known for their dangerous propensities and to suggest otherwise is simply disingenous:  a characteristic that should never appear in judicial opinions.

The judges then went on to "argue" that while "It is true that certain breeds of dog are thought to be more inclined toward vicious behavior than inclination [toward vicious behavior] does not equate with a certainty..."  The plaintiffs never argued that the defendants could be "certain" that a pit bull would bite, nor were they required to make such a proof:  They were required to prove that the subject dog presented an unreasonable RISK of harm.  The judges (or the clerk who wrote their opinion) should make an honest decision based on logic and precedent without engaging in polemics.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262