Those who own animals that cause serious injury to others by biting them or otherwise attacking them can be held liable for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. Of course, there are some limitations on this general rule. For instance, if the bite or attack came as a result of the plaintiff provoking the animal in some manner, the owner may not be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Often, Cape Cod dog bite cases come down to a factual dispute that must be resolved by the trier of fact. Sometimes, however, dog bite cases can be handled though the pre-trial summary judgment process.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in a recent (unreported) case was a man who was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant. Seeking monetary compensation for serious injuries he allegedly received in the incident, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant pursuant to Massachusetts General Law ch. 140, § 155. In his suit, the plaintiff stated claims for both negligence and strict liability, alleging that, at the time that he was bitten, he was not “teasing, tormenting, or abusing” the dog but, rather, had merely leaned down to pet the animal. The defendant’s unsigned answers to interrogatories asserted that the plaintiff had awoken the dog from sleep, stepped on its tail, and swung a heavy medallion at the dog.
The trial court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff. The defendant sought reconsideration, but the trial court did not change its earlier ruling in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant appealed.