What’s In A Name? Dog Fighting Trainer Loses in Court

There is a theory that we humans live up to (or down to), the names our parents give us at birth. Mothers generally seek to give their babies noble, respectable sounding names to be on the safe side. Thus the world has been populated by George Washington Smiths and Jesus Maria Alverezes versus names like Spike or Tuffy.

We wonder if the same might be true of people and the way they name their pets.

In this case, a pit bull puppy named “Bad Eye” plays the role of the villain.

When a young visitor to Bad Eye’s yard was attacked and seriously injured by the dog, a lawsuit followed. The family of the victim sued the young dog’s owner for damages. To win the case, Georgia law requires that the Victim-plaintiffs must demonstrate that the owners of the dog knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous and aggressive.

This should have been a fairly easy task, since one witnesses testified that the owner’s son was training the dog to fight. This was done by withholding food, tormenting the dog with dead chickens, and teaching him to grip a 2 x 4 board in his jaws and not let go. The stated goal of this training was to make the dog “mean.”

In theory, at least, since the dog’s owners gave his son the duty of caring for the dog he knew or should have known that the dog’s aggressive nature was being enhanced under such ‘care.’ Of course, he claimed otherwise. (This was done through his lawyers. The dog’s owner did not take the witness stand.)

The lawyers for the defense requested that the judge grant a directed verdict in the case, a request that the judge would rule that the dog’s owner was not liable under a theory that the owner did not truly know or suspect that the dog was dangerous to humans – only that Bad Eye disliked boards and chickens. The motion was denied and when the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, the defendant dog owner appealed.

For the most part, the alleged errors were unsupported by the record. In other words, the defense’s legal team did not make correct objection during the trial and, therefore, could not rely upon those matters for a legitimate appeal. Sundry other alleged errors were not found to be prejudicial to the jury including conflicting statements made by the dog owner about his son’s convictions for felony crimes. In the end, the appellate court found that the trial court’s actions and the jury’s verdict were in order.

Dog attacks often require specialized knowledge and investigation to win because of the Georgia court’s stance that dogs are not necessarily aggressive by nature or prone to bite. These cases often hinge upon whether or not the Victim or his Legal Team can discover enough evidence that a dog has demonstrated aggressive behaviors in the past and whether or not the dog’s owner knew of the dog’s vicious propensities. That this dog’s owner knew or should have known that his son was re-enforcing such behaviors probably convinced the jury.

Not all dog-bite cases are as clear-cut as this one was. As a victim of a dog attack, it is essential that your attorney thoroughly understands the pitfalls that lie in wait for him. You are wise to retain a lawyer who specializes in personal injury matters and who is well aware of what can happen in the wake of a single misstep.

At The Millar Law Firm we only take personal injury cases. We specialize in matters that involve dog attacks. In other words, in the Greater Atlanta area, we are the premier dog bite experts. Call us today for a free case evaluation. Allow us to advise you about how to proceed with your case in this very challenging field of law. Your outcome will almost certainly depend upon having the best qualified legal team.