Torts/strict liability/pitbulls?

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Torts/strict liability/pitbulls?

Postby kruiz88 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:49 pm

Would pitbulls, due to their dangerous propensities, fall under strict liability in the owner knew of those propensities?

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Re: Torts/strict liability/pitbulls?

Postby zomginternets » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:25 pm

The rule is:

1. Strict liability if D has actual knowledge of animal’s dangerousness (i.e. has bitten someone before, aka the “one bite” rule).
2. Strict liability if D has constructive knowledge of animal’s dangerousness (i.e. giant guard dogs).

I think some people would dispute that all pitbulls are categorically dangerous (i.e. #2 above), but I think there's an argument for it.

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Re: Torts/strict liability/pitbulls?

Postby shepdawg » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:58 pm

Doesn't the animal have to have dangerous propensities in abnormal to its class? I am guessing "class" is by breed. Pitbull is a breed of dogs, thus a pitbull would be in its own class. So, only a really f'n dangerous pitbull would bring strict liability. Seem right?

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Re: Torts/strict liability/pitbulls?

Postby kalvano » Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:00 pm

My pitbull disagrees with your assessment of the breed as a whole.

Also, I believe it's dog-specific, not breed-specific. So if a dog has bitten before, then the owner is on notice.

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Re: Torts/strict liability/pitbulls?

Postby Arbiter213 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:33 pm

Two classes of animals, generally: Naturally tame, and naturally feral. Naturally tame animals are presumed to be incapable of harm, like a rabit.

Naturally feral animals are generally presumed to be dangerous, and thus strict liability (tigers, bears).

However, there are naturally feral animals that man has tamed, like dogs, horses, and bulls. These are presumed to be safe, unless the owner has some specific knowledge that this specific animal is dangerous or has manifested dangerousness of the specific type in question, e.g. dog has chased a girl and tackled her once, but never does it again, and years later bites a mailman, that's not the same type.

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Re: Torts/strict liability/pitbulls?

Postby NJcollegestudent » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:48 pm

Strict Liability for "wild" animals refers to animals that cannot be domesticated. I guess you can argue that about pit bulls specifically, however, the better option is to analyze whether:

1) The animal has a dangerous propensity to others as the owner knows (one free bite rule) AND
2) The injury suffered by the P was based on the dangerous propensity.

We learned this from the second restatements, and the third seems to phrase it differently.

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