Hot Dog Bites Girl After Getting Squirted With Mustard

You can be liable for a dog bite, even if the dog was provoked.

Ashley was walking home with a friend when they passed three dogs in a yard. Ashley’s friend began to tease the dogs, squirting mustard at them from a bottle. One of the dogs was hit directly in the face by the mustard. The dogs began to bark and growl, and one of the dogs bit Ashley.

Ashley’s parents sued the owner of the dog on her behalf. Who do you think won?

Under Ohio law, you are responsible for any injury or property damage caused by your dog, and it does not matter whether you or the dog did anything wrong. This is called a strict liability law. The dog is considered to be “yours” if you own the dog, if you are keeping the dog for someone else, or even if you are just allowing the dog to be kept on your property.

There are very few exceptions to this rule. The rule does not apply if the other person was trespassing on your property or if he was attempting to commit a crime. It also does not apply if he was teasing, tormenting or abusing your dog on your property.

That last clause is extremely important. You are not strictly liable for injuries caused by your dog is the dog was being provoked on your property. So, if you are walking your dog down the street and a stranger kicks your dog, you are liable if your dog responds by biting the stranger. Believe it or not.

In Ashley’s case, though, this wasn’t a problem. Everyone agreed that the dogs were being teased, tormented or abused on the property of their owner. The trial court in Lorain County dismissed the case, ruling that the strict liability law did not apply.

The Court of Appeals disagreed, though. On appeal, the court ruled that the strict liability rule applied, even though the dogs were provoked, and even though the dogs were on their owner’s property. Why? Because Ashley was not the person provoking them. According to the court, the strict liability law was waived only with respect to the person who actually provoked the dogs.

So, even though the dogs were in their own yard, and even though they were provoked by having mustard squirted in their faces, the owner was still strictly liable for injuries the dogs caused to anyone other than the girl with the mustard bottle.

Even the court seemed uncomfortable with this ruling. The judge who wrote the court’s opinion admitted that this might be a flaw in the statute, but he said that it was up to the Legislature, not the courts, to fix it.

This is only one case, and it is binding only in Lorain County, but it can be used to influence the outcome in future cases throughout the state.

The current Legislature has shown that it is willing to reconsider statutes relating to “dangerous” or “vicious” dogs. Many dog lovers were pleased with the recent decision to remove pit bulls from the list of animals that are automatically considered to be vicious.

This might be a good time to ask the Legislature to take another look at the strict liability law for dog owners, as well.

Have a question or a suggestion for a topic?  Email dspirgen@SpirgenLawFirm.com.

Patch posts are general discussions and should not be used as advice on any specific legal matter.  If you need legal advice on a particular situation, please consult an attorney.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

pit August 11, 2012 at 11:03 AM
We must be careful when we have dogs and spend the necessary protective measures.www.kameres.com
Alyssa August 13, 2012 at 03:11 PM
In the Insurance world.... if you have insurance, your insurance company will always pay out in the event of a dog bite. Even if the dog is in its yard, tied to its dog house and the person who was bitten was beating it with a stick.... and even worse insurance companies will turn you down for insurance after you dog bites said person..... sad isnt it
Dennis Spirgen August 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM
It sounds like you had a bad experience with your insurance company, Alyssa, but I can assure you that many insurance companies do defend dog bite cases. I recently tried and won a dog bite case for a major Ohio insurer. I agree, though, that an insurance company may not want to insure you if you lose a dog bite case.
bntgrare September 06, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Every season I wonder what <b><a href="http://www.louisvuittondamierspeedybag.com">Louis Vuitton Handbags</a></b> will create. I know I won’t like everything, but I can count on Louis Vuitton to make a few bags that are absolutely lust-worthy, it’s just what they do. When we shared a closer look at their Spring 2012 collection, I remember not being entirely impressed. Of course there was a theme – lightness and femininity paired with a whimsical touch – but as many have said, the bags look like they are made out of plastic (which they aren’t, just look at the price tags). But nestled into this collection is a perfect summer piece, the <b><a href="http://www.louisvuittondamierspeedybag.com">Louis Vuitton Speedy</a></b> North South bag. Nautical blue and cream calfskin leather offset one another in a take on the <b><a href="http://www.louisvuittondamierspeedybag.com">Louis Vuitton Online Outlet</a></b> house classic.
yun December 19, 2012 at 01:47 AM
http://www.burberryoutlet-clearance.com/ Burberry Outlet http://www.toryburchoutletmart.com/ Tory Burch Outlet http://www.coachpursessaleonline.com/ Coach Purses Outlet http://www.coachoutletstorelonline.com/ Coach Outlet Online


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »