Olier v. Bailey, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, involved plaintiff who was injured when she was chased and attacked by defendant’s domestic goose.
Court records indicate plaintiff and defendant met though a gardener’s forum on the Internet. On the day of the incident, plaintiff went to defendant’s home to see some of her plants. Plaintiff had a sign warning people to beware of “attack geese” displayed in her yard. In addition to this warning sign, defendant allegedly told plaintiff she kept geese on her property. Defendant also had placed a row of five-gallon plastic buckets of water along the edge of her porch. These buckets served two purposes. They provided drinking water for the geese, and kept them from walking on the porch.
Plaintiff was trying to see a banana plant, which was in bloom, and walked past the water buckets. When she stepped over one of the buckets, a goose squawked at plaintiff. Plaintiff testified the large goose reached its neck forward in an apparent attempt to bite her. At this point, plaintiff got back on the porch. Defendant allegedly told plaintiff geese would not attack if she was present, and handed plaintiff a bamboo pole to keep the birds away from her.
When the two women were in the yard, defendant tried to lead the geese away from plaintiff, but they still approached her. She decided the bamboo pole was not going to help keep the goose away and dropped it on the ground. One of the geese bit plaintiff in the crotch and plaintiff turned to run away from the geese. When she turned to run, she tripped over a water bucket, which caused her to fall and break her arm.
Plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against defendant and sought $200,000 plus costs of bringing the case to trial. As our Anderson, South Carolina personal injury attorneys can explain, in premises liability cases, courts will make a distinction as to what defendant’s status on the land was at time of injury. There is a different standard of care required depending on whether plaintiff was an invitee or licensee, and whether her or purpose was for business or social reasons.
In Olier, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment requesting judge dismiss the case on grounds plaintiff was a social licensee when she was injured. Defendant further argued if plaintiff was a social invitee, defendant’s duty of care was not breached. Defendant also argued her geese had never attacked anyone in the past so she did not know they had any violent propensities. Plaintiff filed an opposition to defendant’s motion for summary judgment arguing plaintiff gave her a bamboo pole to fend off the geese because she knew the geese to be dangerous.
Trial court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgement and dismissed the case. In its finding, trial court opined as a licensee, defendant did not breach her duty of cared owed a to plaintiff, and the violent propensity rule did not apply to this case. At this point, plaintiff appealed to circuit court and that court affirmed trial court on this issue.
Plaintiff filed an appeal with state supreme court, and appellate court ultimately affirmed trial court in part because plaintiff was an invitee, and because defendant did not intentionally or willfully injure her. However, the court reversed the case for further proceedings because there was enough to present to a jury as to whether defendant knew or should have known her geese had a violent propensity.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Olier v. Bailey, April 10, 2015, Supreme Court of Mississippi
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