Keeley v. St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church Corp.
A dog-bite plaintiff can prevail against a defendant that does not own the dog, if the dog bite takes place on property that the defendant controls, and the defendant knows about the dog's dangerous tendencies. On Sept. 20, 2010, the minor plaintiff allegedly was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant's cross-country coach, Diane Hayden. The plaintiffs sued the defendant, St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church Corp., alleging it knew, or should have known, that Hayden permitted the dog to roam unsupervised and that the dog was inclined to bite. The plaintiffs' complaint alleged negligent failure to supervise and negligent failure to warn. The defendant moved for summary judgment and argued that the dog did not previously exhibit dangerous tendencies, it did not own or control the dog, and it lacked control of the property where the alleged bite took place. "[A] landlord, in exercising the . . . duty to alleviate dangerous conditions in areas of a premises over which it retains control, must take reasonable steps to alleviate the dangerous condition created by the presence of a dog with known vicious tendencies," pursuant to the Connecticut Supreme Court's 2012 decision, Giacalone v. Housing Authority. A dog-bite plaintiff can prevail against a non-owner, if the dog bite takes place on property controlled by the non-owner, provided that the non-owner knows about the dog's dangerous tendencies. The minor plaintiff, who submitted pictures of the plaintiff, after the alleged dog bite, and excerpts from Coach Hayden's deposition, failed to prove that the alleged dog bite met either condition. It did not take place on property over which the defendant possessed control, and the defendant provided evidence that the dog did not exhibit dangerous tendencies, prior to Sept. 20, 2010. The defendant's evidence that the dog had never bitten, or attempted to bite, anyone prior to Sept. 20, 2010, was unrebutted. The plaintiff allegedly admitted that she lacked evidence the defendant knew about the dog's presence or that the defendant knew that the dog was dangerous. Absent any genuine issues of material fact, the court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment.