SALLY A. ALLEN v. JESSICA COX et al., SC 17763

Judicial District of New Britain


Torts; Whether, in Action to Recover for Injuries Resulting from a Cat Attack, the Plaintiff Must Prove that the Owner Knew or Should Have Known that the Cat had Attacked a Person Before. The plaintiff brought this personal injury action seeking to recover for injuries she sustained when she was attacked by Baxter, the defendants' cat. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in allowing their cat to roam freely despite knowing of his violent propensities. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, citing Pallman v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., 117 Conn. 667 (1933), for the proposition that, in order to hold a defendant liable for injuries sustained in a cat attack, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew or should have known that her cat was of a vicious or mischievous disposition and hence likely to attack people. In ruling for the defendants, the court noted that the plaintiff had not provided any evidence that Baxter had attacked or menaced anyone prior to his attack on the plaintiff. Finally, the court observed that, while the plaintiff presented evidence that Baxter had attacked other cats, such evidence did not tend to prove that the defendants knew or should have known that Baxter presented a danger to people. The plaintiff appeals, claiming she presented sufficient evidence to show that the defendants were on notice that their cat was vicious or, at least, mischievous. The plaintiff also claims that precedent from other jurisdictions and the commentary to 509 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts support her position that, in order to impose liability on the defendants, she was not obligated to show that they knew or should have known that Baxter had attacked a person before.