Deborah Eckland and Greg Young obtained dismissal of a lawsuit against their client following a dog bite incident at a house owned by the client. The client was elderly and residing in a nursing home. She rented her family home to her nephew, who had his girlfriend and children move in. The girlfriend owned a pit bull, which was kept in the bedroom when kids came over to play. On one particular morning, the neighbor girl came over to play.
The dog somehow got out of the bedroom and bit the girl. The girl’s parents sued the elderly client as the owner of the house. In order for the elderly client to be liable under the strict liability Minnesota dog bite statute, Minn. Stat. § 347.22, she had to have “kept” or “harbored” the dog. In order to be found to have kept or harbored the dog, the client must have (1) voluntarily accepted, (2) temporary responsibility, (3) as it relates to the management, control or care of the dog, (4) and exercised in a manner generally similar to that of the dog’s primary legal owner.
Considering the client’s motion for summary judgment, the court found there was no evidence that the elderly client even knew the dog was at the house, much less exercised any control over its behavior. As a result, the case against the elderly client was dismissed.