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Not My Dog, Not My Problem: Court of Appeals Holds Landowners Are Not Liable for Dog Bite

Premises Liability / February 16, 2022

While Michalek v Estate of Patricia Malik, et al. appears to be a significant win for landowners that do not own the dog that bites someone on their property, it is unpublished and not binding law. Nonetheless, this case shows that the dog-bite statute can be used as a defensive tool to fight a premises liability claim on behalf of a landowner who does not own the dog.

However, published case law holds that a landowner may face liability under a premises liability theory where the landowner knew of a dog’s prior bites, knew the dog would enter his/her unfenced property, and took no measures to prevent the dog from entering the property. See Klimek v Drzewiecki, 135 Mich App 115 (1984). The decision in Michalek v Estate of Patricia Malik, et al. does not overturn Klimek, supra, but it may foreshadow what a future Court may do in a case where a landowner knows of a dog’s dangerous propensities, but is not the owner of the dog.


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