Question

Law enforcement officers arrived at a Minnesota residence in order to execute arrest warrants for Andrew Hyatt. During the officers' attempt to make the arrest, Hyatt yelled something such as "Go ahead, just shoot me, shoot me," and struck one of the officers. Another officer then called for assistance from City of Anoka, Minnesota, police officer Mark Yates, who was elsewhere in the residence with his leashed police dog, Chips. Yates entered the room where Hyatt was, saw the injured officer's bloodied face, and observed Hyatt standing behind his wife (Lena Hyatt). One of the officers acquired the impression that Lena may have been serving as a shield for her husband. When Andrew again yelled "Shoot me, shoot me" and ran toward the back of the room, Yates released Chips from the leash. Instead of pursuing Andrew, Chips apprehended Lena, taking her to the ground and performing a "bite and hold" on her leg and arm. Yates then pursued Andrew, who had fl ed through a window. When Yates later re-entered the room, he released Chips from Lena and instructed another officer to arrest her on suspicion of obstruction of legal process. Lena was taken by ambulance to a hospital and treated for lacerations on her elbow and knee. She later sued the City of Anoka, seeking compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Her complaint alleged liability on the basis of Minnesota's dog bite statute, which read as follows:
"If a dog, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be, the owner of the dog is liable in damages to the person so attacked or injured to the full amount of the injury sustained. The term "owner" includes any person harboring or keeping a dog but the owner shall be primarily liable. The term "dog" includes both male and female of the canine species."

In defense, the city argued that the dog bite statute does not apply to police dogs and municipalities that own them. Was the city correct?



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  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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