Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – April 9, 2015

Janet Olier v. Donna Baileypremises liability – the court grants rehearing but appears to come to the same result as before.  Janet Olier was attacked and chased by a domestic goose in Donna Bailey’s yard.  As she fled she fell and broke her arm.  She sued and the trial court held that Bailey did not breach a duty of care because Olier was a licensee.  It also denied relief because there was no evidence that  the particular goose that bit Olier ever had exhibited dangerous propensities prior to the incident. Olier appealed to the Jackson County Circuit Court, which affirmed. On appeal to the Miss.S.Ct. the Court affirms on the premises liability theory.  It reverses on the dangerous propensity theory.

The question is not whether Bailey breached her duty of care toward Olier as a landowner, but as an animal owner. The geese were not a condition of the land to which such a duty attached. The two torts exist independently of one another. One does not have to have been injured on another’s property to maintain a civil action for damages caused by a defendant’s animal. The dangerous-propensity theory of liability exists independently of premises liability, and Bailey’s duty of care as an animal owner is different than her duty of care as a landowner.

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