Dog bite cases can be difficult to handle either as the victim, or the owner of the dog who has just bitten someone. In New York, the laws have been changed so that a person who has been bitten by a dog can only sue the dog owner if he or she can prove that the dog owner had knowledge that their dog was vicious. Basically, that means that the dog has to have acted in a vicious manner before this incident. It also means that the owner of the dog recognized or should have recognized the behavior as vicious. Only then, can the victim show that the dog had vicious propensities prior to the act now in question.
In this case, the owner of the dog is asking for a reversal of finding based on several things that were handled in an inappropriate fashion during the trial of this offense. In this offense, the dog owner’s dachshund bit the hand of one of his employees. The employee was his new live in care giver. On the first day of work, the victim states that the dog bit her hand, causing her injuries.
Initially, the dog owner had asked the court for a summary judgment dismissing his liability in this case because he stated that he had no knowledge of the dog having prior vicious propensities. The case was dismissed. The victim appealed to the Supreme Court stating that the owner did have prior knowledge. Several actions that would show that the dog owner should have known or did know that his dog was vicious were admitted as evidence and the court found that the dog owner was liable. The dog owner now appeals that verdict and requests that the case be reviewed for what he sees as errors in jurisprudence that would serve to reverse the verdict.
First issue at hand: The victim concedes that the Court of Appeals recently has set the standard of proof of liability in injuries by domestic animals to proceed under strict liability based on the owner’s knowledge of the animal’s vicious propensities, “not on theories of common-law negligence” (Bard v Jahnke, 6 NY3d 592, 599 , citing Collier v Zambito, 1 NY3d 444.) This court finds that the Supreme Court made a mistake when it allowed the victim in this case to introduce evidence of the dog owner’s supposed negligence. The court then instructed the jury on a common-law negligence theory. Allegations were brought into the court stating that he abused alcohol and prescription drugs. He was accused of owning and waving around a weapon. None of these incidents had anything at all to do with the dog bite incident. The only objective that this evidence had in the court was to be inflammatory and to cause the jury to view the dog owner as a bad person.
At one point in the previous trial, an affidavit of the dog owner’s physician stating that as best that he could recall, several days after the dog bite, the victim came in to the office with the dog’s owner on an unrelated visit. They had a discussion about the incident in the presence of the doctor. “Someone” made a statement about the dog having bitten another person in the past. The doctor stated that he or she could not remember any specifics of the case, or even who had made the statement. The doctor was asked what she remembered about the case and she stated that she did not recall any of the facts of the matter, but that the affidavit that she had done when the facts were fresh, two years earlier, were sure to be a more accurate account of the incident. The Supreme Court again erred in this case by admitting this affidavit as a past recollection recorded. The document was signed almost two years after the incident and was not fresh and since there were some details that had been filled in by the victim’s counsel, it no longer accurately represented the doctor’s recollections. This was a critical error in the prosecution of this case since it related directly to the issue of the dog owner’s knowledge if any of his dog’s prior vicious propensities. The information definitely would have caused a jury to feel that he had prior knowledge when in fact the document itself and any type of conversation that might have been held related to this document was not admissible and should not have been heard by the jury.
Further, the dog’s owner questions whether or not it was appropriate for the Supreme Court to allow testimony referencing the dachshund breed as being vicious by nature. The victim testified that she had known two dachshunds that had mauled and killed a larger dog. The incident did not relate to the dog in question or to any of the persons involved and was or should have been inadmissible as evidence in this case.( Bard v Jahnke, supra at 599) General testimony or testimony that is not specific to this particular incident and this particular case is not of interest to the court and should not be heard during this case. It’s only purpose in this case would be to color the judgment of the jury as it relates to this dog.
The dog’s owner is now asking the court to review the errors in this case. The specific errors are as follows:
That there is no valid evidence brought to the court that shows that this dog’s owner had any knowledge of vicious propensities prior to this incident. The court can only proceed under strict liability based on the owner’s proven knowledge of past or present vicious tendencies. It cannot find liability based on negligence for the injuries.
Evidence was admitted in reference to dachshunds being a generally vicious breed which is not proven by any valid evidence as presented. The only evidence to this effect that was presented was personal theory with no basis in fact or research.
The Supreme Court Justices find that because of these errors, the previous decisions on this case are not valid and are hereby overturned. The Supreme Court orders this case to be set for re-trial based on the facts.
Here at Steven Bilkis and Associates, we provide New York Dog Bite Injury Attorneys, New York Injury Lawyers, New York Personal Injury Lawyers and New York Dog Bite Lawyers. Being attacked by a vicious dog can have devastating effects on you and your family members. New York Dog Bite Injury Attorneys will stand by you and ensure that your rights are protected. New York Personal Injury Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are considered. We make sure that you are rightfully awarded compensation for your suffering.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its New York Dog Bite Lawyers has convenient offices throughout the New York Metropolitan area including Corona, New York. Our New York Personal Injury Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without a New York Dog Bite Injury Attorney you could lose precious compensation to help with your medical bills and the trauma to you and your loved ones following such a frightening experience. This is true even if the Attorney for the dog owner has not adequately made its case. In addition to Personal Injury Law, Stephen Bilkis and Associates can recommend New York Criminal Lawyers who will protect your rights if you are ever arrested.