Community Assoc. Not Liable for Carbon County Dog Attack

Posted on: June 29th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A 2008 decision of the PA Commonwealth Court clarifies the PA Dog Law. A Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania dog bite victim was attacked by his neighbor’s pit bulls which were running loose in the development. The pit bulls bit the Carbon County resident while he was standing in his driveway.

His Pennsylvania dog bite lawyer filed a lawsuit in the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas against the dogs’ owners and the Community Association for the private residential community. He alleged that there had been prior complaints to the Association regarding the dogs’ aggressive behavior which was ‘terrorizing’ the community.

Judge Roger Nanovic agreed with the Association’s lawyers that their client had no legal responsibility for the attack since the Association could not remove the dogs, confine the canines or take control of the dog owners’ property. The PA dog bite attorney appealed the case to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania who agreed with the Carbon County Trial Judge.

The Appeals Court stated that only the PA Secretary of Agriculture has the power to enforce the PA Dog Law. Since the Community Association could not evict the dog owners or force them to abide by the PA Dog Law, the PA dog bite victim had no legal claim against it. McMahon v. Pleasant Valley West Ass’n, 952 A.2d 731 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2008)