Minnesota's Dog Owner Liability Statute

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has just decided to reverse a case related to a dog attack and send it back for retrial.

The facts of the case:

"On September 27, 2009, appellant Gordon Helmer Anderson was walking his small dog, Tuffy. When appellant and Tuffy walked in front of respondent Dennis Christopherson's house, a dog named Bruno ran out, picked Tuffy up in his jaws, and would not let go. Appellant attempted to separate the dogs and in doing so, fell and broke his hip."

The lower court dismissed the case, saying Minnesota's strict liability dog attack law did cover this incident. The Appellate Court reversed, ruling that the liability attaches upon the aggressive action of the dog and the decision on whether the dog Bruno's attack on the poodle Tuffy was the immediate cause of the broken hip was a question of facts that needed to be determined at another trial.

One of cases quoted in the opinion was about a nine-year-old boy who was killed when a driver was distracted by a dog in his car. In that case, the strict liability statute was said not to apply because the chain of events was too removed from the injury. In other words, the dog didn't directly kill the boy, the driver did.

Rather a harsh conclusion, but there was still a cause of action under negligence law.

Stay informed of the liability you incur with your dog and take the appropriate measures. No matter the money, you would just feel bad if someone, or their dog, got hurt.

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