Friday, February 24, 2012

Landlords May Be Held Liable for Tenant's Dangerous Dog

In Pennsylvania, a non-owner of a vicious dog (landlord, homeowner's association, commercial property company, etc.) may be subject to liability from persons injured by dangerous dog if they are found to have knowingly kept on their premises a dog that they knew was dangerous or vicious.  Additionally, the Pennsylvania courts have held that a landlord maybe liable for a dog bite depending on their knowledge of the dog and their control of the premises.  For instance in Palermo v. Nails, 483 A.2d 871 (Pa. Super 1984), the Pennsylvania Superior Court held, "a landlord out of possession may be liable for injuries by animals owned and maintained by his tenant when the landlord has knowledge of the presence of the dangerous animal and where he has the right to control or remove the animal by retaking possession of the premises.  The Palermo Court also pointed out that a landlord's knowledge of a dog's violent propensities may be inferred from the facts and the circumstances.

As we can see, there are a surprising number of factors to consider in the course of litigation a dangerous dog lawsuit.  Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant in a dangerous dog case, make sure your attorney obtains, at a minimum, the following information and documents:

1.  History of the dog.
2.  Care of the dog by curren owners as well as prior owners.
3.  All records relating to the care and treatment of a dog including veterinarian records, pet shop records, shelters, etc.
4.  Identity of any and all witnesses as to the behavior of the dog at the time of the incident as well as priior to the incident.
5.  Security a liability expert if necessary.
6.  Secure any photographs and/ore video of the dog, the area where the incident occurred or any other matter that may related to issues concerning the behavior of the dog, behavior of the owners, knowledge of teh owner, behavior of the victim, the environment.
7.  Through written discovery requests and depositions, secure information specifically relating to any behavior of the dog including the dog's behavior around people, other dogs, other animals; the dog's environment before ownership, during ownership and during the incident; medical history including any injuries, illnesses, medications; any training of the dog including where training occurred, by whom, the extent of training, how training was conducted, etc.
8.  Subsequent remedial measures- was the dog given away, put down, impounded, put into behavioral training, extent of any disciplinary action taken upon the owner or dog, etc.

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