FEIT v. WEHRLI

2008-08318.

67 A.D.3d 729 (2009)

888 N.Y.S.2d 214

2009 NY Slip Op 08175

NATHANIEL J. FEIT et al., Appellants, v. ROBERT WEHRLI et al., Respondents.

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second Department.

Decided November 10, 2009.


Ordered that the order is modified, on the law, by deleting the provisions thereof granting those branches of the motion which were to dismiss the first, third, and fourth causes of action, and substituting therefor provisions denying those branches of the motion; as so modified, the order is affirmed, with costs to the plaintiffs.

To recover in strict liability in tort for injuries resulting from a dog bite or attack, the plaintiff must establish that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner knew or should have known of the dog's vicious propensities (see Palumbo v Nikirk, 59 A.D.3d 691 [2009]; Jacobsen v Schwarz, 50 A.D.3d 964, 965 [2008]). Evidence tending to demonstrate a dog's vicious propensities includes a prior attack, the dog's tendency to growl, snap, or bare its teeth, the manner in which the dog was restrained, the fact that the dog was kept as a guard dog, and a proclivity to act in a way that puts others at risk of harm (see Bard v Jahnke, 6 N.Y.3d 592, 597 [2006]; Collier v Zambito, 1 N.Y.3d 444, 446-447 [2004]; Galgano v Town of N. Hempstead, 41 A.D.3d 536 [2007]).

The defendants satisfied their prima facie burden of demonstrating their entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. In opposition, the plaintiffs raised a triable issue of fact regarding the defendants' prior knowledge of the subject dog's alleged vicious propensities and, thus, whether the defendants could be held liable in strict liability for the infant plaintiff's injuries (see Dykeman v Heht, 52 A.D.3d 767 [2008]; Miller v Isacoff, 39 A.D.3d 718 [2007]).

However, as the plaintiffs cannot recover on their second cause of action alleging common-law negligence (see Petrone v Fernandez, 12 N.Y.3d 546 [2009]; Bard v Jahnke, 6 NY3d at 599; Frank v Eaton, 54 A.D.3d 805 [2008]), that branch of the defendants' motion which was to dismiss that cause of action was properly granted.


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