Summary Judgment Secured by Reed Armstrong Affirmed

Watson v. Marberry, 2016 IL App (5th) 150223-U

In July 2015, we reported that Reed Armstrong partner Michael C. Hobin secured summary judgment in favor of a campsite tenant who plaintiff alleged was negligent in allowing the codefendant to be present unsupervised at the leased campsite with his dog, which led to the dog injuring the plaintiff. It was undisputed that on the day of plaintiff’s injury, the codefendant was present at the campsite with his dog but the campsite tenant was not. Further, under the lease, the tenant agreed to abide by the ordinances and rules pertaining to the campground which required tenants to keep dogs on leashes, and the lease also stated guests of the tenants were to be accompanied by the tenants at all times. Also, there was no dispute that the tenant did not know of the dog’s dangerous propensities. Reed Armstrong argued under these undisputed facts the tenant was not liable because she did not meet the statutory definition of an owner under the Animal Control Act (510 ILCS 5/16 (West 2006)) in that she did not harbor or exercise control over the dog one way or another. Madison County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Ruth agreed, and finding the Act not applicable he reasoned, to recover under a common law negligence cause of action for a dog bite the Plaintiff must show that “the animal had a mischievous propensity to commit such injuries and that the owner had knowledge of the propensity.” Plaintiff appealed and Reed Armstrong Associate Tara English defended the appeal. The Fifth District Appellate Court of Illinois held:

The circuit court was correct in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant on the plaintiff’s claim for common law negligence in causing her injuries from a dog attack, as the record clearly establishes that the defendant did not own the dog, was not present at the time of the attack, and had no knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities.