Category Archives: Animals

UPS Driver Injured by Dog in Course of Delivery

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Did Canine Have Known Vicious Propensity to Leap?

Thomas Cinguina was bitten by a dog owned by Gayle Berg while delivering a package to Berg in the course of his employment as a United Parcel Service (UPS) delivery driver. He was injured when he then fell while trying to get away from the dog. Cinguina’s complaint alleged strict liability and negligence or reckless disregard.

Berg moved for summary judgment and submitted the deposition testimony of Cinguina, herself, and her husband. She particularly relied on the portions of Cinguina’s testimony in which he stated that at the time of the incident, Berg’s dog was tied to a five-foot leash on the porch— which he first noticed as he was placing the package on her porch—and that he had not had any problem previously in delivering packages to Berg’s house during the more than three years that he drove that route.

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100+ Pound Bullmastiff (Dynasty) Knocks Down Woman Walking Chihuahua (Eli)

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Were Dynasty’s Owners Liable for Ensuing Injury?

Cathy Orisini sought to recover damages for injuries allegedly sustained on February 14, 2017, when she was knocked down by a dog harbored by Woodrow Cromarty and Danielle Grunert outside their home on Columbus Avenue in West Babylon, New York. Orsini alleged that Cromarty/Grunert were negligent in failing to secure and allowing the dog to attack her, when they knew, or should have known, of the dog’s vicious propensities.

According to her deposition testimony, Orsini was walking her son’s Chihuahua, named Eli, past the property owned by Cromarty on February 14, 2017, when a one-hundred-plus pound Bullmastiff, named Dynasty, allegedly escaped from the fenced yard and knocked her to the ground, causing injury to her head and both wrists.

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Juno and Josie Joust in Chatham

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Court Patiently Parses Pet Peeves

On October 27, 2018, Julie Hickson was walking her dog, Juno, through a neighborhood in the town of Chatham, Columbia County, when she approached a residence located at 144 Hudson Avenue. The residence was owned by Fredda Brown, who leased a portion of it to her daughter, Leah Brown-Oliva.

Brown-Oliva had just exited the residence with her own dog, Josie, who was secured by a retractable leash. As Brown-Oliva was closing the door behind her, Josie began running toward Hickson and Juno, pulling the retractable leash out of Brown-Oliva’s grasp. Josie and Juno quickly became engaged in a fight, as Hickson and Brown-Oliva attempted to separate the dogs. During the struggle, the retractable leash that was still attached to Josie became wrapped around Hickson’s legs, and she fell to the ground. Eventually, the dogs were separated, and Hickson and Juno walked away. Hickson later went to an urgent care center, where she was found to have fractures in both of her hands.

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Neighbor Injured When Dog Next Door Attacks Her Pets

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Court Decides if Viable Claim is Asserted

Maria Grajeda sued Karin Hablo, as administrator of the estate of David B. Sulyma, after an incident involving a dog attack on September 20, 2014 in front of the Grajedas’ home in Chester, New York.

On September 20, 2014, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Maria Grajeda was on her front porch with her two dogs, Charlie and Sandy. David B. Sulyma lived next door with his two golden retrievers. Sulyma’s two golden retrievers approached Grajeda’s porch and started barking at her dogs. Sandy ran to the door of Grajeda’s home, and was let inside. As Sandy was let inside, Charlie was attacked by Sulyma’s dogs. Grajeda grabbed one of the dogs by the collar and attempted to separate them, but the attacks continued. As Grajeda attempted to grab Charlie, one of Sulyma’s dogs put his paws on her shoulder, causing her to fall to the ground on her right side. She continued her attempts to get Charlie, but the dogs “were pulling [her] and pulling Charlie” toward Sulyma’s property. She fell “a couple times” as she attempted to intervene in the attack.

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Pit Bull Bites Neighbor in Common Outdoor Area of Apartment Complex:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog

Was Property Owner Liable to Injury Victim?

On May 5, 2017, Donna Bochman allegedly was bitten by “Bentley”, a pit bull owned by William Santos. The incident took place in an outdoor common area of an apartment complex operated by Colonial Property Management in Middletown, New York.

According to Bochman:

I was walking to Apartment 4 and I was walking on the thing. I saw [Mr. Santos’] dog. I tried to move over. His dog came up to me, because his dog was in the middle, his dog came up to me and tried to sniff my crotch and I said no, I just put my hand no, and next thing I know his dog bit me. At that point I was shocked. My arm was in his mouth. Mr. Santos didn’t seem to notice that the dog had me because he was walking and that’s when I was Oh, my God. Oh, my God. And I remember seeing him hit his dog to try and get him off. He’s hitting Bentley, Bentley and he had to open his mouth to get him off of my arm. I just remember screaming Oh, my God.

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Canine Playdate Between Patron and Gizmo Goes Awry:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Did One Owner Have Claim against the Others?

On August 24, 2017, Irma Sanchez brought her dog, Patron, for a playdate with Michael and Marsha’s dog, Gizmo, at the Birds’ residence. Sanchez alleged that Gizmo ran up to her and knocked her down during the playdate. And alleged that the Birds knew of Gizmo’s propensity to knock people down. On July 11, 2018, Sanchez sued the Birds for damages for the alleged injuries she sustained when Gizmo knocked her down.

The Birds moved for summary judgment dismissing the Sanchez complaint. And alleged that Gizmo did not have any vicious propensities. In support of their motion, they contended that their dog knocked Sanchez down to the ground as a result of playing with Patron in the yard. According to the Birds, they could not be liable for Gizmo’s normal dog behavior. They also alleged that Gizmo did not have any vicious propensities as evidenced by both Sanchez’ and Michael Bird’s examinations before trial. They testified that neither of them had seen or were aware of Gizmo biting, growling, or showing his teeth toward anyone. The Birds highlighted the fact that Sanchez testified that when their dogs played with each other, they did so in a playful manner and Gizmo did not act aggressively toward Patron. And the dogs had playdates frequently, at least one to two times per week prior to the incident.

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Service Dog Adopted Out of Animal Care Without Notice to Owner:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Would Court Intervene/Assist Recovery on Emergency Basis?

Denise McCurrie suffered from anxiety and depression and lived on disability payments. On April 16, 2021, she experienced a medical emergency at her residence, requiring the services of an ambulance. Two Emergency Medical Technicians and two police officers arrived at her home. McCurrie was transferred by ambulance to a hospital, and the police officers took her dog Roscoe to the New York City Animal Care Center. She alleged that she made the police officers aware that Roscoe was an emotional support animal.

A few days later, McCurrie contacted the police and inquired as to Roscoe’s whereabouts. She was informed that Roscoe was given to ACC, which she contacted to inquire about her dog. She was informed by ACC that Roscoe was given to a shelter, but ACC would not provide the name of the shelter to her.  Subsequently, an individual applied for and adopted Roscoe from the shelter. McCurrie diligently sought to recover Roscoe, and brought suit upon obtaining counsel.

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Three Day Trial in Contested Canine Custody Case:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Court Determines Which Parent has Right to Sole Possession

Our Courts regularly and routinely resolve disputed claims to possession of personal property and controverted petitions for child custody. But, as a recent case illustrates, a Court may be required to adjudicate competing applications for possession/custody of a cherished canine companion.

Matthew Mundo sued Harry Weatherson to recover possession of a Chihuahua dog named Maximus. The complaint alleged that Maximus (valued at approximately $2,500) was being wrongfully detained by Weatherson because Mundo held a superior right to possession. Mundo asserted causes of action for replevin, declaratory judgment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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Dog Bites Guest at Home of Owner’s Parents:

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Are Mom and Dad Liable for the Injury?

Dog bite cases and their factual differences and distinctions abound. Liability is often based on who owned or controlled the dog. But, as a recent case illustrates, another determinant of liability may be where the incident occurred.

Jessica Sigmund claimed that she was bitten by a dog named Luke belonging to Christopher Porreca while she was a guest at the home of his parents, Francis and Rosemary Porreca, on January 10, 2019.

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Did Dog Already Have Its “One Bite”: And Thus Was Vicious Propensity Known?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Dog bite case decisions regularly and routinely address the legal basis of liability: did (or did not) the owner know of the canine’s “vicious propensity”. But that is where the similarity begins and ends. As a recent case illustrates, each case is “fact-specific” and requires an examination of the dog’s “propensity” pedigree.

Mindy Gordon was the owner of a dog named Mystery. On September 30, 2018, Amisha Mulji was walking her dog named CJ around 8:45 in the evening. Mystery was also out and being handled by Melissa Torres. Mystery was leashed but was not muzzled. Mystery then attacked, scratching Mulji and biting CJ. Eventually, CJ died from its injuries. As a result, the New York City Department of Health entered into a settlement with Gordon setting forth the care and responsibilities of Mystery. The settlement stated “Mystery was involved in both the foregoing incident and a prior incident on December 11, 2015, in which Mystery attacked and caused physical injuries to persons and killed another dog.”

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