Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My expertise: Dog-bite litigation

Today, my law firm argued Priebe v. Nelson before the California Supreme Court.

The issue: Does the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk, as embodied in the so-called "veterinarian's rule," preclude a kennel worker who is bitten by a dog from recovering from the dog owner in strict liability?

Translation: If you take your dog to a kennel, and it bites a kennel worker, do you automatically have to pay the worker?

We successfully argued in the California Court of Appeal that dog owners should not -- repeat, not -- be absolutely liable to kennel workers. Among other things, such a rule would discourage dog owners from taking their dogs to kennels, and would impose liability for something over which the dog owner has no control.

Gauging from the comments of the Supreme Court Justices, my guess is we will win our case. We should have a published ruling in about six weeks or so.

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