Thursday, September 2, 2021

Preliminary Objections by Out-of-Possession Landlord Sustained in Part and Overruled in Part in Dog Bite Case

In the case of Rodgers v. Guerrieri, No. 1526 of 2020 G.D. (C.P. Fayette Co. April 1, 2021 Vernon, J.), the court granted an out-of-possession landlord’s Preliminary Objections to a Plaintiff’s dog bite Complaint. However, the right to amend was granted to the Plaintiff.

According to the Opinion, a minor Plaintiff was attacked by a dog on the premises. In addition to suing the owners of the dog, the Plaintiffs also sued the out-of-possession landlord Defendant.

The out-of-possession landlord Defendant filed Preliminary Objections on various grounds.

The court sustained the landlord Defendant’s Preliminary Objections with respect to the claims of negligence given that the Plaintiff only utilized conclusory allegations.

However, the court denied the Motion of the out-of-possession landlord Defendant to strike the claim for punitive damages. While the court found that the allegations of punitive damages set forth under a separate count was procedurally improper, the court noted that, if the Plaintiff included allegations of outrageous conduct or reckless indifference, a punitive damages claim would be pursued under the facts presented.

The court noted that, where an out-of-possession landlord had knowledge of the presence of a dangerous animal on the premises and had the right to control or remove the animal by retaking possession of the premises, the landlord could be held liable for injuries caused by the animal.

As noted above, the Preliminary Objections of the landlord Defendant sustained but the Plaintiff was allowed to file an Amended Complaint.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (July 27, 2021).

Source of Image: Photo by Julissa Helmuth from

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