Defendants owned a 4-H hog that escaped its pen and injured the plaintiff neighbor. The hog caused the neighbor to fall down, thereby injuring his neck, back, and leg. The neighbor brought a lawsuit against owners. Under Louisiana statute, animal owners are liable for damage caused by their animal when (1) the owner knows, or should have known, the animal’s behavior would cause damage and (2) reasonable care could have prevented the damage. On a summary judgment motion, the defendants argued the plaintiff could not prove they knew or should have known the hog would cause damage. The district court granted the motion. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that “generally large animals, when they escape their enclosures, are inherently dangerous.”

The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court. The court noted that negligence is the basis of liability for all animals except dogs in Louisiana. The court agreed with the defendants that there was no evidence that they should have known the hog had “vicious propensities.” The depositional testimony showed that the hog was “gentle, sweet, and friendly[,]” and would routinely be let out of his pen. The court also found there was no evidence of any circumstances that day that would “excite or scare” the hog. The court stated the only thing that could have stressed the hog, “would be knowledge of its demise once [Plaintiff] employed self-help, immediately after this incident, by shooting and killing the [Defendant’s] hog.” Therefore, the court found that plaintiff could not prove defendants should have known their hog would cause damage, and affirmed the district court’s dismissal.

Johnson v Battise, No. 23-283 (La. Ct. App. 3rd Dec. 13, 2023).