DOG BITES ARE NO SMALL MATTER IN MINNESOTA!!

Every attorney needs to handle at least one dog bite case in their career. So here is the poop.

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 347 deals with cats and dogs.

Link:  Minnesota Statutes Chapter 347

Minnesota courts have established Minnesota’s statute places strict liability on the owner (caretaker/keeper) of a dog that attacks or bites a person or other animal (see section 347.22 below, and a dog owner has “the strict liability of an insurer.” Lavalle v. Kaupp, 240 Minn.360, 363, 61 N.W.2d 228, 230 (1953)  Link: Lavalle v Kaupp ; the Minnesota Supreme Court in Seim v. Garavalia, “conclude[d] that section 347.22 was meant to provide absolute statutory strict liability.” 306 N.W.2d 806, 812 (Minn.1981)) Link:  Seim v Garavalia   . A dog owner may face liability under both statutory liability and common-law negligence.

Additionally, Minnesota Statutes allow a person to file a complaint with the district court requesting the dog be declared a public nuisance and killed (see sections 347.04 and 347.06 below).

 

347.04 PUBLIC NUISANCE.

Any dog that habitually worries, chases, or molests teams or persons traveling peaceably on the public road is a public nuisance. Upon written complaint to a district court judge containing a description of the dog, including the name of the dog and its owner, or stating that the name or names are not known, and alleging that the dog is a public nuisance, the judge shall issue a summons, if the owner is known, commanding the owner to appear before the judge at a specified time, not less than six nor more than ten days from the date of the summons, to answer the complaint. The summons shall be served not less than six days before the day of the hearing in the same manner as other district court summonses.

347.06 HEARING; JUDGMENT; EXECUTION.

The judge shall hear the evidence in the case. Upon finding that the dog is a public nuisance, the judge shall enter judgment accordingly, and shall order the appropriate public official to kill and dispose of the dog.

347.22 DAMAGES, OWNER LIABLE.

If a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner of the dog is liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained. The term “owner” includes any person harboring or keeping a dog but the owner shall be primarily liable. The term “dog” includes both male and female of the canine species.