Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Roaming Pit Bulls Violate PA Dog Law

Violations of Pennsylvania's dangerous dog law has come up on a couple of cases that I am working on right now.  The case of Underwood, McInnes & Dash v. Wind & Kasprzyk is a good example of a case involving negligence per se under the PA dog law.

Shauna McInnes, Andrew Dash, and Racquel Underwood filed suit against Dana Wind and Sherry Kasprzyk in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania related to a dog attack. Underwood, who was a minor, filed the action through her mother and natural guardian, Catherine Underwood. the Plaintiffs were all seriously injured as a result of dog bites from a pack of pit bulls owned by Wind.  At the time, Wind lived in a home owned by her aunt, Sherry Kasprzyk.

Plaintiffs claimed that the pit bulls were left unsupervised and unchained on the Kasprzyk property.  The dogs roamed over a mile away, where they began to pursue and circle Underwood near her own home. When the dogs began to attack her, McInnes and Dash, who happened to be driving down the street, stopped their car and attempted to help Underwood. The dogs then attacked McInnes and Dash. All of the plaintiffs suffered severe dog bite lacerations.

The plaintiffs brought claims of negligence and negligence per se under the PA dog law.  § 459-504-A of the PA dog law deals with the Control of dangerous dogs. In Pennsylvania, it is unlawful for an owner or keeper of a dangerous dog to permit the dog to be outside the proper enclosure unless the dog is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under physical restraint of a responsible person. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal or from destroying property with its teeth.  With a claim for negligence per se all a plaintiff has to do is show that the defendant violated that law.  If they do that then there is no defense the defendant can raise to avoid liability.

After a five day trial the jury in the case returned a verdict in the plaintiffs' favor, apportioning 70 percent of the liability to Wind and 30 percent to Kasprzyk. The damage award was broken down as follows: 1) Underwood was awarded $ 65,000, plus delay damages of $ 8,724.25; 2) McInnes was awarded $ 80,000, plus delay damages of $ 11,408.62; and 3) Dash was awarded $ 85,000, plus delay damages of $ 10,737.53. The total award, with delay damages, was $ 260,870.40.

Dog bite cases are great cases to implement claims of negligence per se.  Because if there is a bite, all the plaintiff has to do is show that the dog had a known dangerous propensity and the defendants were in violation of the law.  If the plaintiff proves that then the case is becomes just a matter of how much. Share this post :
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1 comment:

  1. Wondering how 70 percent of the liablity was given to the victim?