Word to the Wise: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie … or at Least Lawsuits Based on Them

Since it is a holiday week surrounding Fourth of July we are keeping the content light and irrelevant to our blog topic. But, when a court determines that a dog sleeping in a hallway does not create an unreasonable risk, we can’t resist.

In Parella v. Compeau, a panel of the New Jersey Appellate Division tackled the question of whether a “hidden” sleeping dog created a dangerous condition at a Christmas dinner (wine) party hosted at the defendants’ house. The plaintiff alleged the homeowner party hosts failed to warn her of a dangerous condition (i.e. the sleeping dog). The plaintiff, who was carrying a glass of wine when she tripped over the dog, claimed she could not see the dog because the chairs, the guests and a wall obscured her view. Thus, she claimed she did not appreciate the tripping hazard presented by the dog sleeping in the hall in front of the doorway. The plaintiff was aware dogs were in the house, but apparently she did not appreciate that dogs often sleep in front of doorways. The court determined that the dog was not hidden from view and that the dog did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries (which included a lacerated finger requiring surgery).

For those wondering … we think it is likely that the defendants did offer the plaintiff some cheese after she fell and it paired well with her w[h]ine. Stay tuned for the defective design case against the wine glass manufacturer (because shockingly the glass broke upon impact). We only wish the plaintiff’s theory against the hosts would have been negligently serving red wine, which obscured her view, whereas a nice white would not have.

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