Court of Appeals Decision Changes the Law on Premises Liability

In 2016, Monte represented an appellant at the Court of Appeals of Washington who was the victim of a dog attack that caused significant injuries to the appellant’s face. The dog was known to be aggressive, yet the dog was left unattended at a place of business where the appellant was visiting at the time of the attack. The appellant sued both the dog’s owner and the owner of the land on which the attack took place.

Although the claim against the dog’s owner survived, the trial court determined there was no legal basis for the claim against the defendant landowner, and the court dismissed the appellant’s claim on summary judgment prior to the beginning of trial. Monte appealed the court’s dismissal based on the theory that the dog constituted a dangerous condition of the land, and the defendant landowner failed in his duty to protect the appellant from the dangerous condition. Monte won a reversal of the dismissal of the personal injury claim against the landowner, and the court remanded the case for trial proceedings.

This case was the first of its kind in Washington. In reversing the trial court’s dismissal of the claim against the landowner, the court expanded the law of premises liability to include dogs as a potentially dangerous condition of the land and opened a new avenue of recovery for victims of animal attacks.

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