Dog Problems Spawn Many Issues.

A dog, "Brutus," had been turned over to the defendant (an animal control shelter) in May of 2010 to be euthanized.  However, the defendant allowed the plaintiffs to adopt the Brutus on July 3, 2010.  The plaintiffs were informed that Brutus had exhibited "food aggression" toward a child in his prior home and that the prior owner did not know how to handle him.  Between July 3 and July20, Brutus bit the plaintiffs on their arms without breaking the skin, and then later bit the plaintiffs  in a manner causing severe injuries.  The defendant removed Brutus from the plaintiffs' home, and the plaintiffs sued for damages for injuries, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, products liability and intentional infliction of emotional distress and sanctions.  The defendant argued that because Brutus had already bitten the plaintiffs before the bite that caused injury, the plaintiffs could not have reasonably relied on the defendant's representations concerning Brutus thereby defeating the plaintiffs' claims for fraud or negligent misrepresentation.  The plaintiffs claimed that they would not have adopted Brutus if they had been truthfully told about the prior owner's reason for turning him over to the defendant.  The court determined that fact issues remained on the reasonable reliance issue.  The court also held that the waiver language in the adoption agreement did not bar the plaintiffs from recovering for negligence because it did not advise the plaintiffs that their waiver of claims extended to claims that might arise from the defendant's own negligence.  However, the court did hold that the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim failed.  Sanctions were also not warranted.  Lawrence, et al. v. North Country Animal Control Center, Inc., No. 51812, 2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1857 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Mar. 5, 2015). 

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