Reynolds v. Lancaster County Prison, 325 N.J.Super. 298, 739 A.2d 413 (App. Div. 1999)

Practice Areas: General Liability

After guard dog business owner and independent contractor who acted as manager of that business both suffered serious injuries in attacks by dog that Pennsylvania prison gave to business, contractor and owner sued prison for negligent misrepresentation involving risk of physical harm. Additionally, contractor asserted claim against owner under dog-bite statute and under common law negligence principles, and owner’s wife asserted per quod claim against prison. The Superior Court, Law Division, Essex County, entered judgment on jury verdict assessing damages at $1.5 million for contractor, $1.4 million for owner, and $250,000 for owner’s wife, and assessing comparative fault on contractor’s claim at 85% for prison and 15% for owner, and on owner’s claim at 75% for prison and 25% for owner. Appeals and cross-appeal were taken. The Superior Court, Appellate Division, Coburn, J.A.D., held that: (1) prison committed tort of negligent misrepresentation involving risk of physical harm; (2) prison was not entitled to total or partial immunity under Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act of Pennsylvania (PSTCA); (3) owner was not liable under dog bite statute; (4) owner owed contractor duty to make reasonable investigation of dog’s history; and (5) evidence supported contractor and owner’s damages awards.

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