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Fla. Stat. Ann. § 767.01(1979) provides that dog owners shall be strictly liable for any damage done by their dogs.
Petitioner, Donnie Jones, a twelve-year-old boy, brought this civil action against Roy Davis, the respondent's insured, seeking damages for injuries sustained when he was struck by a wagon being pulled by Davis' dog. The accident occurred after Donnie and two other children, one of them Davis' son, had been playing with the dog which they had tied to a small wagon. Davis' dog spotted another dog and ran after it. As the dog ran past Donnie, the wagon struck him causing a permanent injury to his leg. The trial court directed a verdict in favor of Jones on the issue of liability, finding respondent to be strictly liable for Jones's injury under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 767.01. The district court reversed and held that § 767.01 did not apply under the facts of the case.
Did the district court err in reversing the decision of the trial court and holding that § 767.01 did not apply under the facts of the case?
The court found that the legislature intended to impose strict liability upon a dog owner only for those risks created by the act of ownership. On review, the court quashed the decision of the district court and remanded with instructions to affirm the judgment of the trial court. The court found that the rules of ordinary causation applied, and the evidence showed that the animal caused the injury. Thus, the court found that respondent's insured, as owner of the dog, should be held liable to Jones under § 767.01.