Smith v. Meyring Cattle Company, LLC

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Smith v. Meyring Cattle Company, LLC

Case Number
Call Date
November 2, 2018
Court Number
Box Butte
Case Location
Case Summary

S-18-0184 Harley Smith (Appellant) v. Meyring Cattle Company, LLC

Box Butte County District Court, Judge Travis P. O’Gorman

Attorneys: Steven W. Olsen, Johnathan C. Hunzeker (Simmons Olsen Law)(Appellee) --- James R. Welsh, Christopher Welsh (Welsh & Welsh)(Appellant)

Civil: Action for strict liability based on dog bite statute and negligence

Proceedings below: The trial court granted Appellee’s motion for partial directed verdict and dismissed Appellant’s strict liability claim. The court entered a dismissal after the jury found in favor of Appellee on the negligence claim.

Issues: Whether the district court erred in 1) finding as a matter of law that Neb. Rev. Stat. § 54-601 (Reissue 2010) did not apply, and 2) granting a partial directed verdict in favor of Appellee on the issue of strict liability.

Facts: Appellant worked as a ranch hand at Meyring Cattle Company (Appellee). Appellant was injured while working with the cattle on Appellee’s ranch. Appellant was helping with the process of “pouring” cattle, when he had stepped in holding “tub” with two cows. He stated that Appellee’s dog was nipping at the bottom of one of the cow’s hooves. Appellant testified that he told the dog to go lay down but the cow that had been nipped at charged and trampled Appellant who suffered significant injuries. Appellee argues that the dog was trained not to bark or to agitate the cattle and he was specifically trained not to be by the holding tub.
Appellant argues that there was evidence introduced at trial showing that Appellant sustained injuries as a result of the actions of Appellee’s dog and that Appellee would be strictly liable under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 54-601. Appellant argues that this statute applies because the dog’s actions in nipping at the cow ultimately injured him. Appellee, however, contends that strict liability is imposed only if the dog’s actions are directed at the person in the first instance.