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New York Supreme Court Finds for Defendant in Dog Bite Case


The respondents for this case are Todd Brooks, an infant, who is represented by his father Steven Brooks. The appellant in the case is Sheila Parshall. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Third Department. The judge that is overseeing the case is Kane.

This is a case of an appeal of the original order made in the Tompkins County Supreme Court by Judge Mulvey. Judge Mulvey denied the defendants motion for a summary judgment to dismiss the case that was made against them.

Case History

The defendants are owners of a German Shepard dog called Caesar. The plaintiffs, Todd and Steven Brooks were attending a gathering at the home of the defendants. Todd was seven at the time of the incident. According to Todd, when he first arrived at the home of the defendants the dog, Caesar, growled at him. However, he states that the dog was friendly after that initial greeting.

The plaintiffs allege that the dog bared his teeth and growled at one man in particular who was attending the party. The plaintiffs state that the guests of the party talked about the behavior of the dog towards this man. According to the plaintiff’s, the defendant continuously removed the dog from the living room because of his behavior toward this particular man.

The defendant denies hearing the dog growl or bare his teeth and states that he did not hear anyone talking about the dog growling.

The plaintiff, Todd, played with the dog before the party and the next morning with no incidents. When the plaintiffs were getting ready to leave the home Todd approached the dog from behind to give him a hug goodbye. It was at this time that the dog turned and lunged at him. The dog bit Todd in the face, which is the reason for this lawsuit. The original Supreme Court that heard the case denied a motion for summary judgment that was made by the defendant.

Court Discussion and Decision

In order for a plaintiff to receive damages in the case of a dog bite they must prove that the dog had vicious tendencies and that the owner of the dog knew of these vicious tendencies.

In this case, the plaintiffs have not shown that the dog had vicious tendencies. A dog biting someone previously is not enough to show that the dog has a tendency to be vicious. If a dog has been known to growl and bare its teeth and snap at people, there may be enough concern to raise question of the dog’s violence depending on the circumstances.

The defendants have shown that they did not have any knowledge of vicious acts by their dog. They testified that their dog, Caesar had never bitten, threatened, lunged, bared his teeth at, or chased anyone in the past. It was shown that the dog interacted with children, other people, and other pets without incident.

After discussing and reviewing the case, the plaintiffs statements that the dog growled at Todd at first and also growled at a man during the party does not raise a triable question in regard to the violent tendencies of the dog. For this reason, the court rules in favor of the defendant and a summary judgment to dismiss the complaints against them are dismissed.

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