Can a landlord be held liable for injury caused by a tenant’s dog, if he landlord does not know the dog is vicious?

September 2, 2015 7:16 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Yuzon v. Collins, 116 Cal.App.4th 149, 10 Cal. Rptr. 3d 18 (2004)

Can a landlord be held liable for injury caused by a tenant’s dog, if he landlord does not know the dog is vicious?

No.

Can a landlord be held liable for a dog bite, if the landlord knows his tenant is keeping a vicious dog?

Yes

COURTS REASONING

Under California law, a landlord owes a duty of care to his tenant’s invitees to prevent injury from the tenant’s vicious dog when the landlord has “actual knowledge” of the dog’s vicious nature in time to protect against the dangerous condition on his property. (Uccello v. Laudenslayer (1975) 44 Cal.App.3d 504, 507, 118 Cal.Rptr. 741.)

In this case, plaintiff was bitten by a dog owned by defendant landlord’s tenants. The landlord moved for summary judgment, contending, among other things, that he owed plaintiff no duty of care due to his lack of actual prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious nature. The trial court granted the motion and entered summary judgment for the landlord. We affirm.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On April 30, 2001, plaintiff Brian Yuzon, a minor, was bitten by a dog, a pit bull or pit bull mix named Kemo. The dog was owned by defendants Tracy Blackburn and Fin Blackburn.. The incident occurred at the Blackburns’ Long Beach residence, which they were renting from their landlord, defendant Gerald Collins.

Plaintiff, by and through his guardian ad litem, filed a lawsuit the Blackburns and Defendant Collins on October 3, 2001. With regard to Defendant Collins, the complaint alleged he had negligently owned, maintained, managed and operated the premises, and had willfully failed to guard or warn against a dangerous condition on his property.

Defendant contended that although the Blackburns’ 1993 rental agreement had authorized them to have a springer spaniel on the property, he was unaware of the dog’s presence on the property. The Blackburns’ springer spaniel died in February 1994. According to the Blackburn’s testimony, Defendant did not know about the springer spaniel’s death. The Blackburns never told Defendant they had acquired the dog that bit the boy. Defendant testified that while he knew the lease had authorized a springer spaniel on the property, he was not aware of any dogs on the property. Defendant testified that he never saw or heard a dog barking on the premises. Defendant testified that when he learned of this incident, he was not surprised to learn about the dogs’ presence because the rental agreement permitted a dog in the house. The Blackburns testified that Defendant had not ever seen their dogs. In addition to contending he was unaware of The dog’s presence, Defendant also contended he did not know of the dog’s dangerous propensities. Defendant contended he could not have known about the dog’s vicious nature because there is no evidence that the subject dog had ever displayed any vicious propensities prior to this incident.

Tags: , , ,

Categorised in: , , , , ,

This post was written by Orange Dog Bite Attorney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.