Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – December 1st, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate by Andrea Lee Negroni, Esq. – December 1st, 2011 Update

Real Cases in Real Estate is a weekly update on real estate law, with legal principles illustrated and explained by lawsuits from around the country. The topics are wide-ranging for appeal to a broad spectrum of readers including lawyers, homeowners, investors and the general public. Andrea Lee Negroni, a Washington DC attorney and legal writer with 25 years of experience in financial services and mortgage law, contributes the case summaries.

Followers of Real Cases in Real Estate will learn and be entertained by lawsuits involving nuisance, trespass, zoning violations, deed restrictions, title insurance, public utilities, mechanics liens, construction defects, adverse possession, foreclosure and eviction, divorce and marital property rights, tenants' rights, and more. Real Cases in Real Estate uncovers the unpredictable, amusing, and sometimes outrageous disputes between next-door neighbors, contractors and homeowners, condo boards and residents, real estate brokers and homebuyers, and zoning administrators and developers.

Each fully cited case summary highlights the essential law of the case and explains the principal legal theories and concepts relevant to the outcome. Plain language treatment makes Real Cases in Real Estate accessible to lawyers and laymen alike.

Whether you follow real estate law professionally or as a hobby, you'll find something new and useful every week in Real Cases in Real Estate.


Updates for the Week of December 1st, 2011

Close the Door to Keep the Dog Out.

Karen Williams, a housekeeper, sued her employers, the Galofaros, and their insurance company, claiming they were liable for her injuries when she fell while cleaning the bathtub in their master bedroom. The Galofaros' puppy got underfoot and Williams tripped on the dog. Williams said the Galofaros were aware that their lively puppy was a danger to her, and that they were also negligent for not permitting Williams to lock up the dog in another room while she was working.

The Louisiana appeals court reviewed the rule of law for damages caused by animals, as it has been in effect since 1996. "The owner of an animal is answerable for the damage caused by the animal ... only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that his animal's behavior would cause damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. Nonetheless, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages for injuries to persons or property caused by the dog and which the owner could have prevented and which did not result from the injured person's provocation of the dog."

Prior to this law, there was almost strict statutory liability for injuries caused by animal owners in Louisiana, but the Louisiana Supreme Court had backed away from this standard in 1989, in cases establishing the principle that the owner of an animal is not required to insure against all risk or loss, but is liable only where the animal presents an unreasonable risk of harm.

Williams said she specifically warned the Galofaros that their puppy was a danger to her but they would not let her lock up the dog while she worked. The appeals court decided that the dog did not present an unreasonable risk of harm to Williams because she could have shut the door of the bathroom while she worked, preventing the dog from entering the room. Williams knew the dog was playful and testified she had previously almost stepped on him when he hid under a comforter while she was changing the beds. Both the trial court and the appeals court concluded that the dog did not present an unreasonable risk of harm to Williams, and summary judgment to the dog owners was affirmed.

Williams v. Galofaro and Farm Bureau Insurance Companies, 2011 La. App. LEXIS 1340 (November 9, 2011) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers / unenhanced version available from lexisONE Free Case Law]

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