Desmornes v. Towers
Pet Owner Did Not Prove Hazardous Placement Of Sign
Torts | Personal Injury | Premises Liability
- Waterbury J.D., at Waterbury
- Mar 07 2014 (Date Decided)
- Roche, J.
Absent an obvious hazard to customers, a pet store may not owe a duty to place a store sign away from the entrance to the pet store. Allegedly, the plaintiff shopped at the defendant’s Pet Smart store in Waterbury and fell at the entrance, when another dog ran toward the plaintiff’s dog, and the plaintiff backed away from the other dog and fell onto a floor sign. The plaintiff sued Pet Smart and alleged that it was negligent, because it does not have a separate entrance for dogs and because the location of the floor sign was unsafe. Pet Smart moved for summary judgment and argued that it did not own or keep the dog and was not strictly liable under the “dog-bite” statute, Connecticut General Statutes §22-357. No evidence existed that Pet Smart knew about the dangerous propensities of the other dog. Separate entrances and exits for dogs would not change the statutory duty of pet owners, who are the individuals who know whether the pet is dangerous. “The issue,” wrote the court, “becomes whether or not Pet Smart as the premises owner should have known and therefore foreseen that the sign posed a hazardous condition for customers entering and leaving.” A tape of the incident indicated that the sign did not obstruct individuals who entered or exited the Pet Smart store. The court was not persuaded that Pet Smart breached an industry standard concerning the placement of floor signs and possessed the duty to place the floor sign at another location, as opposed to at the entrance. No obvious hazard existed, and the court was not persuaded that Pet Smart created a dangerous condition or had constructive notice of a defect. The mode of operation rule did not apply. The court granted Pet Smart’s motion for summary judgment.