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Landlord Not Liable for Injuries Caused by Tenants’ Dogs

Digested from “Landlord not liable in dog attack, state justices rule”
Green Bay Press Gazette (12/26/14) Richmond, Todd

Property ownership does not necessarily correlate to all aspects of the property, according to a recent ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Although George Kontos provided shelter for his daughter and her family, the court determined, in a 6-1 verdict, that he wasn’t a direct caretaker of his daughter’s dogs — which attacked a visitor on the property in 2008 — and, therefore, was not liable for their actions.

The court’s verdict overturned previous rulings by the initial judge and the appeals court, which had deemed Kontos’ property ownership extended to the dogs as well and made him a responsible party. The minority opinion in this decision also noted that, as property owner, Kontos had the authority to remove the dogs from the premises and, by providing shelter free of charge, had enabled his daughter and her family to purchase and care for additional dogs, thereby making him partially responsible.

However, the majority notes that Kontos did not live on the property or regularly care for these pets, and did not possess enough control over the animals to be considered an owner.

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