Law School Case Brief
Buturla v. St. Onge - 9 Conn. App. 495, 519 A.2d 1235 (1987)
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-357 provides that the owner or keeper of a dog is liable for any damage done by that dog. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-327 defines a "keeper" as any person, other than the owner, harboring or having in his possession any dog.
Marion and John Zura were the owners and lessors of an apartment building. At the time of the incident, tenant Ronald St. Onge, with permission from the Zuras, kept a dog in his apartment. On June 1, 1983, while the plaintiff was a guest in St. Onge’s apartment, she was attacked by the tenant's dog, which caused severe lacerations to her face. Plaintiff then brought a suit against St. Onge and the Zuras. According to the plaintiff, the Zuras, as landlords who consented to the dog’s presence in the apartment, were liable under General Statutes § 22-357 as a “keeper” of a dog. The Zuras' uncontradicted affidavits stated that neither of them had ever fed or taken care of the dog, nor had the dog ever been allowed to roam in or use the yard abutting the building. The affidavits stated further that the only common area used by the dog was the staircase leading from the apartment to the street. Applying § 22-357, the trial court concluded that the Zuras were not keepers of the dog, and hence, they were not liable to plaintiff’s injury. Plaintiff sought further review.
Pursuant to § 22-357, were the Zuras, as owners and landlords of the apartment, “keepers” of the dog, and hence, liable to plaintiff?
Under § 22-357, a party must exercise some degree of control over a dog to be found as keeper of that dog. After reviewing the record, the Court held that the Zuras did not exercise any degree of control over the dog. No evidence was presented to show that the lessors afforded lodging to, sheltered or gave refuge to the tenant’s dog. As such, the Court concluded that the Zuras were not liable to plaintiff for the injury she sustained from the dog bite.
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