Thursday, September 2, 2021

Summary Judgment Granted in Dog Bite Case Due To Lack of Proof of Prior Vicious Propensities

In the case of MR v. Bunting, No. 6856-CV-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. June 8, 2021 Williamson, J.), the court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on the Plaintiff’s negligence per se and negligence claims arising out of a dog bite incident. The court also granted summary judgment on the claim for punitive damages.

According to the Opinion that the minor Plaintiff was allegedly bitten by a dog at a birthday party. There was an allegation that, following the incident, the dog owner allegedly told the guardian of the minor that the dog had bitten someone before.

After the case proceeded through discovery, the dog owner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. 

With regards to the allegations that the dog owner had violated the Pennsylvania Dangerous Dog Law and was, therefore, negligent per se, the court found no evidence in the record that the law had been violated under the facts presented. 

The court noted that the fact that the dog owner allegedly mentioned that the dog had bitten someone in the past was not sufficient in and of itself. Rather, Judge Williamson noted that the evidence had to show that the dog had previously caused severe injury without provocation and that there was no evidence of this in the record.

The court also noted that liability only existed under theory of negligence per se if the owner knew or had reason to know of the animal’s dangerous propensities. Judge Williamson stated that there was no evidence in the record regarding the nature and circumstances of any alleged prior bite.

Although there was evidence that the dog would growl in the past, the record revealed that this behavior was more consistent with play growling, rather than aggressive growling. The court found that the Plaintiff did not provide any evidence that the dog had vicious tendencies.

As such, summary judgment was granted.

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 (not of the dog in question):  Photo by Karsten Winegeart on

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