Goldenhagen v. Pasmowitz

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that there is no assumption-of-the-risk exception to the strict liability imposed on dog owners by the Dog Bite Statute. The plaintiff was an employee of a kennel where the defendant boarded her dog while on vacation. During the dog’s stay, he bit the plaintiff. The Law Division and Appellate Division awarded summary judgment to the defendant. The courts based their rulings on the Appellate Division’s decision in Reynolds v. Lancaster County Prison. There, the Appellate Division recognized an exception to the strict-liability Dog Bite Statute based on assumption of the risk where the injured party is an independent contractor who agrees to care for the dog. Here, the Supreme Court vacated, overruled Reyolds, and held that assumption of the risk is not a defense under the Dog Bite Statute. Instead, a defendant may assert a defense of contributory negligence under the Comparative Negligence Act.

Goldhagen