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New York Appellate Court Reverses Prior Dismissal, Finds Material Issues of Fact to be Determined


A woman parks regularly at a parking garage. In the past, she noticed a big bag of dog food near the parking garage’s office and she asked the valet there if there was a dog in the place. The valet showed the woman a pit bull which was leashed in the back area of the office. There were piles of dog feces all over the floor and the dog looked dirty and not well taken care of.

On June 12, 2000, the woman noticed that the dog was tied up near the front of the parking garage’s office where people pick up their cars. She also noticed that the dog’s chain was very long. The woman waited for her turn in line for the parking attendant to get her car. After she gave the parking attendant her receipt, the dog walked over to her. The woman put her hand out so that the dog can smell it and she tried to pet the dog. For a while the dog seemed fine but suddenly, the dog turned and the dog attacked her. The woman suffered a dog bite in her hand which bled profusely.

A female employee of the parking garage assisted her. The woman called her friends who picked her up and brought her to the hospital. The woman’s injury left her finger swollen and disfigured. The finger is numb due to nerve damage and has lost much of its dexterity.

The woman filed a case for damages for the injury she sustained due to the dog bite. She also filed a cause of action for negligence against the parking garage owner who kept a vicious dog in a parking garage which was open to the general public and yet failed to take the necessary steps to protect its customers from being attacked or bitten by their guard dog.

The parking garage employees and owner denied that they owned the dog. They also denied ever being aware of any other persons bitten by the dog. They did not have any license or veterinarian records for their dog. They did not have any records from the health department either.

The owner of the parking garage moved for summary judgment asking that the complaint be dismissed for the failure of the plaintiff to prove that they owned the dog that attacked her.

The Court held that it is a well-settled rule in New York that a dog owner who knows an animal’s vicious tendencies will be held liable for the injury caused by the animal’s vicious tendencies. The vicious tendencies of the dog do not need to be proved by evidence that the dog has bitten another person prior to this particular dog bite. It is enough that the dog be shown to have growled, snapped or bared its teeth.

Here in this case, there are material issues of fact that must be determined by a jury. First, the parking garage owner never denied the presence of a dog in the parking garage. Second, the parking garage owner never denied that the employees took care of the dog in the parking garage and benefited from the presence of the dog to guard the parking garage. Third, there were deposition statements made by employees of the parking garage that there was another person who suffered a dog bite prior to the dog’s attack on the woman here. Fourth, on the day of the dog attack, there was proof of the dog’s presence in an area where it would come in direct contact with the dog.

The presence of these material issues of fact precludes a grant of summary judgment for the parking garage owner. The Court reversed the order granting the summary judgment. The dismissal of the cause of action is reversed and the parties are directed to appear for trial.

Perhaps like this woman, you suffered a dog bite. You are wondering what causes of action you can bring to make sure that you are compensated for the dog bite and the injury you incurred. You need to speak with a NY Dog Bite lawyer who can give you advice as to what causes of action you may bring. Speak to a NYC Dog Bite lawyer from Stephen Bilkis and Associates today. Their New York City Dog Bite attorneys are ready and willing to represent you and present facts and evidence in your behalf. Speak to any of the New York Dog Bite lawyers at any of the offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates in the New York area.

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