All law students have heard of the “one free bite rule” but what about the “one free flap rule”? Cynthia Ruddell is suing Lolita Rose over a
foul fowl attack by her pet duck. Ruddell said that the duck flapped its wings at her and caused her to fall backward and fracture her wrist in two spots. She is now suing over an animal with “Abnormally dangerous propensities in attacking people.”
The quack attack is detailed in the complaint and includes just two claims: negligence and animal liability. The later claim allows for strict liability for wild animals and vicious domestic animals. Interestingly, her lawyer Gregrory Price does not try to claim that the duck is wild, presumably because they are routinely raised on farms and sometimes treated as pets. Instead, he is going for the vicious fowl angle. The complaint alleges that Rose “needlessly endangered the public” with the flapping crazed beast.
Price may want to call Jimmy Carter who was attacked by a rabbit to show that even cute little creatures can become homicidal killing machines.
The problem is that the vicious propensity of the duck was displayed by the flapping of wings not pecking or using some type of duck shank. The complaint says that Ruddell was leaving her motor home on her mother’s property on May 7, 2013 when the duck started flapping at her, causing her to fall in Estacada, Oregon. A jury could continue that this was not a vicious propensity but merely a startled duck doing what startled ducks do. This is much like a dog growling and a person falling backwards. Moreover, the complaint does not indicate any past vicious conduct from said duck. Absent more, the strict liability claim is likely to fall away like . . . well water off a duck’s back.
It may come down to a court appearance by the duck (please, please make this happen Judge). The jury can then decided if the ugly duckling is a dead duck.
Ruddell is demanding $25,000 for medical expenses and $250,000 for her pain, her suffering and loss of prior activities due to her injuries.