Schedule a Consultation | Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Trial lawyers specializing in personal injury and civil litigation

Uninvited visitor is a trespasser; loose dogs are not "strays" until they leave owner's property

Dale Tieman returned to a home where he had previously bought straw, intending to buy more.  Unbeknownst to him, the property had been sold to Joseph Grinsteiner.  Grinsteiner wasn't home, but his dogs were.  Recalling the axiom that "barking dogs don't bite," Tieman exited his car intending to knock on the back door of Grinsteiner's home.  He soon learned that many axioms or merely folk tales.  He sued Grinsteiner for damages.

The trial court dismissed his claim and the court of appeals concurred.  They held that since Tieman was uninvited and his visit was of no mutual benefit to Grinsteiner, Tieman was merely a trespasser to whom Grinsteiner owed almost no duty.  It also held that Grinsteiner's invitation to guests implied in his conduct of a music festival on the property did not change Tieman's status.

The Court also held that Grinsteiner did not violate the "leash law," because his dogs did not leave his property.

Finally, the Court held that merely acknowledging that a particular breed of dog is territorial and more likely to protect its home by attacking, did not establish a common law cause of action for claims involving a dog's "abnormal dangerous propensities."  The latter claim must be proved based on knowledge of an individual animal.

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