When a dog is near a family member, friend or stranger in New Hampshire, it may be difficult to think of such a common and normally friendly animal as a danger. However, animal bites can lead to serious injuries that take months or years to heal, if they do at all. The person who owns the dog that bites another person is usually held liable for the damage, although this case sets an interesting precedent.
According to a report from March 26, a principal who allegedly knew about a dangerous dog on school property was sued when a woman suffered from injuries due to the same dog attacking her on school grounds. The story claims that she suffered the dog bite injuries after school hours and on a Saturday, so the principal was not there. No school activities were taking place at the time.
According to the news, the attack happened in 2009, when a woman was crossing through the school yard and was attacked by a stray dog. At the time, the dog that attacked her was known to her and was kept by an owner who normally had it chained to a tree. The dog had allegedly been known to be aggressive by the local residents.
The woman reported the incident and filed a complaint with the school against the principal after the attack. She claimed that the principal and school should pay for the injuries she suffered. However, the principal wasn't even there at the time of the attack.
She believed that because the principal and school were aware of the issue of the dangerous dog, they should have been responsible for people on the school's premises, no matter what time it was. She also claimed that before the attack, two other people had also complained about the same dog attacking them, too. Despite this information, the police and animal control officers were not called by the school or principal.
In the end, the court ruled in favor of the principal and school, stating that only injuries that happen during events or open hours are those that will be covered by the property owner in New Jersey. Because the principal didn't own the dog, the court also said he had no liability. This case was later overturned in an appellate court, but a Supreme Court judge ruled again in favor of the school.
Source: The Daily Journal, "Principal not liable for dog attack" Daniel J. Kov, Mar. 26, 2014