Partner Adam Stark and associate Kirsten Orr won summary judgment in a Cape May County dog bite case, in which they represented the owners of the property where the dog was visiting when the incident occurred. Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants were liable under a theory of common law absolute liability. Under such a theory, a dog’s keeper may be subject to liability where it can be demonstrated that he or she knew or had reasons to know of the dog’s tendency to inflict harm. Plaintiffs argued that the Defendant was the keeper of the dog, who was staying at the property overnight and that the Defendant knew of the dog’s vicious tendencies – or, at the very least, it was an issue of fact – because the dog’s owner previously advised her that the dog had anxiety.
Fleischner Potash argued that the Defendant was not the keeper of the dog, who was staying at the property for a short period of time with its owner, and there was no evidence that the Defendant had any responsibility or control over the dog. Moreover, Fleischner Potash argued that there was no evidence that the Defendant had any knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities, as the testimony of the dog owner was clear that although the dog had anxiety and would cry, he never showed any signs of aggression prior to the incident. The Court agreed with Fleischner Potash’s arguments, dismissing the claims against the property owners with prejudice.