An interesting case was filed against Disneyland in California over a dog bite. Lena Dickerson was 2-years-old when she was encouraged to pet a German shepherd-Labrador retriever mix named Hemmingway at the Disneyland petting zoo in October of 2006. She was severely bitten on the face and left with scarring.
The family later found out that a Disney employee had adopted the 6-year-old dog from the Orange County Animal Shelter and brought it to the theme park two weeks before the attack. The dog was placed on a box in the Big Thunder petting zoo and kids were encouraged to pet the dog while an employee held its leash.
What makes this case particularly interesting is the record. Under the “one free bite rule” owners are subject to strict liability if they know of their dog’s vicious propensities. In this case, the shelter had notations in the record that Hemmingway was “not very social” and had a history of aggression. Sounds just perfect for a petting zoo. Even if strict liability does not apply, there is an obvious basis for negligence in either ignoring such warnings or failing to inquire about them.
The family is seeking punitive damages.
For the full story, click here