Recent Wins

Sep 05, 2012 Martin Stein, Carolyn Oill Government Liability
Court of Appeal issues writ of mandate ordering trial court to grant summary judgment in a dog-attack case

County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court (Faten) (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 543 (California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight) [published]. Plaintiffs were attacked by two of a neighbor’s many dogs. They sued the County, GMSR’s client, arguing that its Department of Animal Care and Control should have picked up the dogs before the attack. The trial court denied the County’s summary judgment motion, in which the County argued there was no mandatory duty on its part to have taken any dogs into custody before the attack. A mandatory duty is a term of art and is created by a statute that imposes an obligation on the public entity to perform a specific act, with no room for the exercise of discretion. Since the decision whether or not to take a particular dog or dogs into custody involves several layers of discretion, the Court of Appeal held there was no mandatory duty and ordered the trial court to enter summary judgment in the County’s favor.