Dog Bite: Absentee Owner Can Be Liable If THey Allow Dog On The Premises

The Court of Appeal, First District, has held that a property owner who allows a construction worker to bring a dog, a pit bull in this case, onto his property can be held liable if the dog bites another worker. Salinas v Martin (August 28, 2008) First District, Division One, Case No. A119733.

Paolo Martin owns a residential property which was undergoing extensive renovation. Stephen Salinas was a sub-contractor on the project. Mr. Martin had given the contractors and sub-contractors complete access to the premises during the renovation process. At the same time, Mr. Martin had hired gardeners to maintain the landscaping. The gardeners had two dogs, a pit bull and a pit bull mix which Mr. Martin knew about and had given them permission to have with them on the premises and to run free in the fenced-in back yard. On a weekend, Mr. Salinas went to the job site to retrieve some scaffolding when he was attacked and bitten by the pit bull.

The trial court granted summary judgment to Mr. Martin, holding him to the same standard as a residential landlord who must have actual knowledge of a dog’s dangerous propensity before he or she can be held liable. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that Mr. Martin, although not living on the property during the renovations, had not surrendered possession and was frequently at the home. As such, the Court of Appeal held him to the usual standard for a homeowner who allows a dog on their property, i.e. whether there was a reasonable foreseeability of harm. In this case, the Court of Appeal held that it was foreseeable that the pit bull would attack another worker and thus Mr. Martin could be held liable.

The San Diego dog bite attorneys Walton Law Firm LLP represents persons who have been bitten or attacked by dogs. Please see our website if you have any questions or would like a confidential and free consultation.

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