Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia dog bite case requiring the court to determine if the lower court was proper to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims seeking punitive damages from the defendant dog owner. Ultimately, the court concluded that the facts gave rise to a material issue regarding the dog owner’s knowledge of her pets’ propensity for dangerousness and whether her actions on the day of the attack showed a conscious indifference to the safety of others.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was taking her son’s dog to the neighborhood dog park. The dog was a five-pound Yorkshire terrier. When she arrived, she noticed the defendant and her two larger dogs were already in the fenced-in park. The plaintiff asked the defendant if she was going to leave soon, and the defendant just shrugged.
A few minutes later, the defendant started to put her dogs on their leashes. However, as she opened the gate to exit the dog park, the two large dogs got away from her control and ran toward the plaintiff’s dog. The plaintiff’s dog was killed as a result, and the plaintiff was seriously injured. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, seeking punitive damages.