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Boy injured by pig at YMCA camp loses appeal

June 8, 2015

A trial court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of a YMCA camp and other defendants in a case seeking damages after an 11-year-old boy was bitten by a pig.

“On appeal, the boy and his mother acknowledge the general rule that owners of domestic animals are liable only if the owner knows or has reason to know that the animal has dangerous propensities,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the panel in Jake Gruber, Jill Sherman, & Jake Gruber b/n/f Jill Sherman v. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, Ruth Lilly YMCA Outdoor Center, & Flat Rock River YMCA Resident Camp, 49A02-1410-CT-713. “Nevertheless, they ask us to change the standard for liability of owners of domestic animals to that of strict liability when the animal is not a cat or dog.

“Because Indiana Supreme Court precedent is clear that this general rule applies to all domestic animals — and not just cats and dogs — we decline their invitation to alter the standard.  We therefore affirm the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the camp.”

Jake Gruber was at a YMCA camp in St. Paul where his mother, Jill Sherman, was a chaperone in 2011. A pig who’d lived on the premises most of the past six years without incident “lunged at Jake, stuck its head between the bars, and ‘grabb[ed]’ Jake’s hand,” according to the record. His hand was x-rayed and he was prescribed antibiotics at a nearby hospital.

“Because the plaintiffs have put forth no convincing reason to impose strict liability on owners of domestic animals that are not cats or dogs, we affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the YMCA defendants,” the panel concluded.

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