Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Animal / Dog Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting Landlord's motion for summary judgment on each claim brought by Tenant, holding that the circuit court did not err.Tenant's minor son was attacked by a neighbor's dog near her home in Landlord's trailer court. Tenant brought this action against Landlord alleging two negligence theories and a breach of contract claim. The circuit court concluded that Landlord owed no legal duty to the child and, in any event, had no knowledge of the dog's alleged dangerous propensities. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the dog's attack on the child was not actionable as to Landlord because there was no duty that would subject it to liability. View "Burgi v. East Winds Court, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Vermont Supreme Court's review was whether a landlord who had no knowledge that a tenant’s dog had dangerous propensities could be held liable for injuries the dog causes to individuals who enter the property with tenant’s permission. Plaintiff Katherine Higgins, who was badly injured by a tenant’s dog while on the leased property, challenged the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to defendant landlords. When he was showing the house on landlords’ behalf after tenant moved in, a realtor who was representing landlords in marketing the property observed obvious signs around the house that a dog lived there, including door casings that were badly scratched by the dog. The realtor did not see the dog and did not know its size or breed or whether it had ever acted aggressively towards any person or other animal; based on the sound of the dog, he opined that it was “tough and loud.” Plaintiff, a neighbor, was attacked and seriously injured by tenant’s dog, an American Pitbull Terrier, while visiting tenant on the rental property. On appeal, plaintiff renews her argument that landlords have a general duty of care to the public, and that this duty includes a duty of reasonable inquiry concerning tenants’ domestic animals. In addition, she argues that landlords were on notice of the dog’s dangerous propensities on the basis of the observations made by realtor, acting as landlords’ agent. Finally, she contends that landlords are liable to plaintiff on the basis of a municipal ordinance. Finding no reversible error in granting summary judgment to the landlords, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Higgins v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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This case involved a premises liability claim brought by a visitor against landlords for an injury caused by the tenants’ dog. The question was whether the landlords, Ernesto and Teri Hernandez, owed a duty to petitioner Maria Saralegui Blanco. The tenants, David Gonzalez Sandoval, Alexandra Barajas Gonzalez, and Elvia Sandoval, rented single family home owned by the landlords. While visiting the home, Saralegui Blanco was attacked and bitten by the tenants’ dog. Saralegui Blanco sued, alleging the tenants and landlords were negligent and liable for her injuries. The trial court dismissed the claims against the landlords on summary judgment. The Washington Supreme Court granted direct review and affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, dismissing Saralegui Blanco’s premises liability claim against the landlords: petitioner failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact that the landlords possessed the land, retained control over the premises or the dog, or created a dangerous condition. View "Saralegui Blanco v. Gonzalez Sandoval" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over whether a landlord was liable for harm caused by his tenants' dog the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Landlord, holding that Plaintiff failed to show that a genuine issue of material fact existed for trial.A seven-year-old boy was bitten by a dog owned by tenants of Landlord's property. Plaintiff brought this complaint against Landlord seeking to recover for the boy's injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Landlord, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was insufficient evidence to support a claim that Landlord knew that the dog posed a danger before it bit the boy; and (2) therefore, Landlord was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Curlee v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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In this case brought by a tenant against her landlord and a neighboring tenant alleging breach of the lease's no-pets provision the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing the case, holding that the landlord's accommodation of an emotional support dog was not reasonable.Plaintiff moved into an apartment building because of its no-pets policy. Afterwards, another tenant requested a reasonable accommodation to have his emotion support animal (ESA), a dog, with him on the apartment premises. The landlord allowed the ESA and tried to accommodate the two tenants, but Plaintiff still suffered from allergic attacks. Plaintiff sued, alleging breach of the lease and interference with the quiet enjoyment of her apartment. The landlord asserted in its defense that its waiver of the no-pets policy was a reasonable accommodation that it was required to grant under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA). The small claims court concluded that the landlord's accommodations were reasonable. The district court dismissed the case. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the landlord's accommodation of the ESA was not reasonable because Plaintiff had priority in time and the dog's presence posed a direct threat to her health; and (2) Plaintiff was entitled to recover on her claims. View "Cohen v. Clark" on Justia Law

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Tenant Marie Johnson appealed a trial court’s conclusion that she violated two material terms of her residential rental agreement: a “no-smoking” policy and a “no pets” policy. After review of the trial court record, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed based on the no-pets violation: the court did not err in concluding that tenant was not entitled to a reasonable accommodation for a specific emotional support animal. The record reflected that the landlord approved tenant’s request for an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation, but did not approve of “Dutchess” as the specific animal because of the dog’s hostility, complaints from other residents, and tenant’s inability to restrain the dog. Given this holding, the Court did not address whether the trial court erred in finding that tenant violated the no-smoking policy. View "Gill Terrace Retirement Apartments, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant leased a single-family dwelling to Tenants pursuant to a lease agreement in which Tenants were permitted to keep pets but would be responsible for any property damage or disturbance caused by their pets. Three times in one month, a dog owned by Tenants allegedly attacked Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued Defendants seeking damages on a common law theory of negligence. The superior court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because there were no triable issues as to whether Defendants were ever in possession of control over Tenants' dog, the superior court did not err in its judgment. View "Fields v. Hayden" on Justia Law

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At issue in this certified appeal was whether a landlord may be held liable, under a common-law theory of premises liability, for injuries sustained by a tenant after being bitten by a dog owned by a fellow tenant and kept on premises owned by the common landlord, when the landlord knew of the dog's dangerous propensities but did not have direct care of, or control over, the dog. Defendant, the town of Wallingford housing authority, appealed from the judgment of the appellate court reversing the judgment of the trial court following its decision granting Defendant's motion to strike a complaint brought by Plaintiff, seeking to recover damages for such injuries. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a landlord's common-law duty to alleviate known dangers includes dangers posed by vicious dogs. View "Giacalone v. Town of Wallingford Housing Auth." on Justia Law

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Under Kentucky's dog-bite liability statutes, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages caused by the dog. This case presented the questions whether a landlord can be liable under the statutory scheme's broad definition of "owner" and whether that liability can extend to injuries caused by a tenant's dog off the leased premises. In this case the attack occurred across the street from the rented property. The trial court granted summary judgment for the landlords under Ireland v. Raymond, which held that a landlord's liability for attacks by a tenant's dog does not extend to attacks that occur off the leased premises. The court of appeals affirmed, also relying on Ireland. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a landlord can be an "owner" of a tenant's dog for the purposes of liability under certain circumstances; (2) any such liability extends only to injuries caused on or immediately adjacent to the premises; and (3) for that reason, the landlord in this case was not liable under the statutes. View "Benningfield v. Zinsmeister" on Justia Law