The Case of the Not-So-Friendly Great Dane
Chicago, IL Personal Injury Attorney Mark P. Loftus talks about a case he remembers involving a vicious dog and a client who was severely injured.
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There’s a statute in Illinois that provides that under appropriate circumstances, a pet owner, including a dog owner, can be liable for the acts of his or her dog. The case that I recall – I’ve handled a number of dog bite cases, and this is the one I always remember.
I had a client, a nice young woman, who was friends with the dog owner and had been in their house on multiple occasions, had seen and been around the dog on multiple occasions, and on one night she went over there to meet with the dog owner’s wife. They were gonna go to dinner or something. And she was in the house waiting for this woman to come out, and she was over by the dog and went to pet the dog. And it was a Great Dane. It was a big dog.
And as she went to pet the dog, she was moving toward the dog, the dog lunched at her and bit the left side of her face. And she was a young woman, she was only in her 20s. And the dog, it’s a Great Dane, as you can imagine are big dogs. And the dog did extraordinary damage to the left side of this woman’s face, on her cheek, significant scarring.
I filed suit on behalf of my client. The defense lawyer told me throughout the case that this Great Dane was a sweet, kind, loveable dog who would never do anything like this. And one of the things I typically do in these types of cases is I insist on seeing where the attack occurred so I can kind of figure out what happened logistically. And the dog owner could not be present. The judge allowed us to do an inspection at his house.
And the dog owner couldn’t be present, but he said, “I’ll leave a key under the matt. You can just grab the key.” His lawyer was there. “Just grab the key, and walk in.” And the defense lawyer grabbed the key and put the key in the lock on the front door and immediately there was this growling and barking and all kinds of noise on the other side of the door that was clearly from this Great Dane that had caused my client so much damage.
And I turned to the defense lawyer and I said, “Well, you’ve been telling me all along that this is a nice, sweet, kind dog. Why don’t you go in the house?” And the defense lawyer looked at me and said, “There’s no way I’m going in that house.” And not long thereafter, the case resolved.