McNulty Case Dismissal Through Preliminary Objections
Joe McNulty had a case dismissed through preliminary objections. Plaintiff was injured in a motorcycle accident allegedly caused by a dog that ran onto the road and into plaintiff’s path. The dog had escaped from its owners property despite the presence of an electric fence. Our client is a neighbor of the dog owner. The dog allegedly came onto our client’s property before going onto the road where the accident occurred. Despite an admission of responsibility from the dog’s owner, plaintiff’s sued the neighbor for compensatory and punitive damages.
Plaintiffs alleged that our clients should be held to the same standard of care as the dog’s owner, because the animal had allegedly been on our property prior to the incident. They maintained that our client should have restrained or chained the dog, and that they also had responsibility for, among other things, training the animal. Judge Charles Miller of the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas, declined to expand the Pennsylvania Dog law past “owners or keepers” and granted our preliminary objections. Judge Miller agreed that plaintiff had not established any duty on behalf of the neighbors and that plaintiff’s claim was not supported by the law or the facts. The Court accepted McNulty’s position that accepting plaintiff’s argument would potentially create liability for any person whose neighbor owned a dog.
Judge Miller also dismissed the punitive damage count in the complaint, finding that the allegations were no more than negligence claims.