Hedding-Kelton v. Madrigal (Nov. 1, 2023, C095876) 2023 WL 7175716

GMSR’s landlord client invited a guest to visit her property.  During the visit, a dog attacked the guest and she sued the landlord for negligence.  At trial, the landlord presented evidence that her tenant owned the dog and was therefore strictly liable to the plaintiff under Civil Code section 3342.  The landlord repeatedly urged the trial court to permit jury apportionment of some of the plaintiff’s noneconomic damages to the tenant.  The trial court refused, and the resulting verdict and judgment awarded noneconomic damages against the landlord alone.  The court then entered orders awarding the plaintiff substantial costs and Civil Code section 3291 interest based on the winning verdict.

Adopting GMSR’s arguments, the Court of Appeal unanimously reversed the judgment and the costs and interest rulings, ordering an apportionment retrial.  The court held that there was substantial evidence of the tenant’s dog ownership and liability under section 3342, and therefore the trial court’s refusal of apportionment was prejudicial error.

To read the Court of Appeal Opinion, click HERE.

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