Robert Krasnecky Case Study

Published: 2021-06-29 06:57:07
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Issue: Could the owners of dogs who entered sheep owners' property and slaughtered sheep be potentially held liable for emotional distress and loss of companionship and society suffered by the sheep's owner and for the violation of the trespassing law? Rule: To prove negligence, a plaintiff must demonstrate Duty, Breach of duty, Causation, and Damages. Also, he must demonstrate strict liability based upon defendant's awareness of his animal vicious propensities. If an animal has shown a "vicious propensity," strict liability applies and the owner of the animal is responsible for any injuries suffered in an attack by the animal. If an individual keeps an animal that has not shown vicious propensity, he has a duty to warn and protect individuals who come into contact with the animal. Analysis: Owners of domestic animals, such as dogs, are not presumed to know of the animals' vicious propensity. Strict liability arises only after the owner obtains constructive knowledge of the propensity. The key issue was whether liability for the domestic animal rested upon negligence or strict liability. If negligence is the standard, then any contributory negligence by the plaintiff must be considered in awarding damages. If strict liability is the standard, any contributory negligence by the plaintiff is irrelevant. The only factor affecting the defendant's liability is the plaintiff's assumption of the risk. According to Putney (1908), domestic animals are not usually dangerous, and the owner of the animals has to be aware of the dangerous propensities of such animals before he can be held liable for injury which the animal may cause. It is the duty of the owner of domestic animals to fence them in, where they are such as can be fenced against, but it does not necessarily follow that the owner of domestic animals suffered to run at large or to trespass upon the lands of others are thereby rendered responsible for all injurious acts committed by such animals while away from the premises of the owner. Putney (1908), mentioned that all of the authorities seem to agree that the owner of a domestic animal is not liable because of a negligent failure to keep it confined on his own premises, except for the consequences which may be anticipated because of its well-known disposition and habits, unless it is possessed of a vicious disposition of which he has notice (Putney, 1908). As to all animals, the owner can usually restrain and keep them under control; and if he will keep them, he must do so. If he does not, he is responsible for any damage which their well-known disposition leads them to commit. In this particular case, although the summary judgment materials established that the defendants acted negligently and recklessly, they did not indicate where the parties' properties were located in relation to each other or how the dogs happened to appear on the plaintiffs' property. Consequently, it cannot be said that what transpired was in the usual course of events. Also, evidence that dogs entered sheep owners' property and slaughtered sheep, without showing where each one's properties were located in relation to each other or how dogs happened to appear on sheep owners' property, was insufficient to show that slaughter of sheep was in usual course of events arising from negligent control of dogs, as required to support claim for trespass. However, there was evidence in the summary judgment that (1) the defendants were aware that their dogs often ran loose; (2) the dogs had attacked and killed a neighbor's rabbits; (3) the defendants had been asked to restrain the dogs; and (4) on April 24, 1993, the dogs had run off while one of the defendants was attempting to tie them to a run in a kennel in the defendants' yard. Roukas (2007) indicated that it is not unusual in the United States to find a companion animal being treated as a family member. Such treatment can be attributed to Americans forming strong bonds with their companion animals, or even having a companion animal in lieu of children. As a result, the valuation of damages for the loss of a companion animal is often times the fair market value. Roukas added that several jurisdictions currently allow recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, and/or punitive damages where the tortfeasor has engaged in an intentional harm and/or gross negligence involving a companion animal (Roukas, 2007). Roukas (2007) mentioned that in Parker v. Miser, 27 Ala. 480 (Ala. 1855), the court recognized that at common law, an action existed for the conversion or injury to property, and acknowledged domesticated animals as property. The court went on to note that some amount of nominal damage existed for the wrongful killing of an animal, even in the absence of a precise amount. Where the killing of the animal was done in reckless disregard, a plaintiff could seek punitive damages. Wise (1998) mentioned that since owners of companion animals and parents of small children experience the effects of their wrongful deaths in similar manners, the law should compensate them similarly. Most Americans have companion animals that are viewed as family members. It is therefore helpful to compare the kinds of damages that the common law provides, or should provide, for the wrongful death of a child, with the kinds of damages the common law provides, or should provide, for the wrongful death of a companion animal, and the

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