Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summary Judgment Denied in Dog Bite Case, But Punitive Damages Claim Dismissed

In the case of Pollack v. Shell, No. 14-CV-8009 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Aug. 7, 2018 Nealon, J.), the court addressed theories of liability asserted against an out-of-possession landlord in a dog bite case involving a pit bull.

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County
 Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas reviewed the current status of Pennsylvania law in this regard and noted that, in order for liability to rest against an out-of-possession landlord in this context, a plaintiff must prove that the out-of-possession landlord had actual knowledge of the presence of the animal on the premises and possessed the right to control or remove the animal by retaking the leased premises.

Here, the court found issues of fact prevented the entry of summary judgment on the negligence allegations asserted by the Plaintiff.  The record contained evidence of alleged knowledge on the part of the landlord of prior attacks/bites by the dog along with evidence that the landlord had the right to retake the premises from the tenant and did not do so.

However, the court did grant the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment against the punitive damages claims as facts only showed alleged negligence on the part of the landlord.  The record was noted to be devoid of any evidence that the landlord acted in conscious disregard of a known risk or harm to others.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

Have a dog bite case you are trying to settle?  Please do not hesitate to let me know if I can assist as a Mediator.   Resume and fee schedule available by contacting me at

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