Local Gov’t Immune From Suit After Pit Bull Attack

Posted on: June 29th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A decision by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court granted a Motion for Summary Judgment for Upper Darby Township after it had been sued by a pit bull attack victim.  A young boy was visiting some friends when their pit bull attacked him resulting in facial lacerations which required surgery.  The pit bull had previously attacked 3 other individuals and the Township’s sole action was to quarantine the dog once.

The PA dog bite attorney sued the Township alleging that it had failed to comply with the PA Dog Law in that it had not destroyed the pit bull after the 3 prior attacks.  The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas dismissed the lawsuit.  Upper Darby Twp. was immune from liability due to the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act.  The Appeals Court noted in its affirmation that the Secretary of Agriculture, not the Township, is charged with the enforcement of the PA Dog Law.  Lastly, since the Township did not have possession or control over the pit bull, there was no exception to the local government immunity.  Lerro ex rel. Lerro v. Upper Darby Twp., 798 A.2d 817 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2002)