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Bard v. Jahnke

New York Court of Appeals
848 N.E.2d 463 (2006)


Facts

Reinhardt Jahnke and his family owned and operated a dairy farm. Jahnke permitted a bull named Fred to roam freely in an area of the farm’s large barn, known as the low cow district which held approximately 130 cows, in order to impregnate any cows that had failed to conceive through artificial insemination. Fred had never been restrained within the low cow district, and none of Jahnke’s bulls had ever threatened, injured, or attacked another person or farm animal. Jahnke’s son asked John Timer to do some repair work in the low cow district, and Timer asked Larry Bard to assist him. Neither Jahnke nor anyone else at the farm knew that Timer would be present on the day he arrived to do the repairs, or that Bard would be working with Timer. While working on the repairs, Fred charged Bard and severely injured him. Bard (plaintiff) sued Jahnke (defendant). Bard’s expert, a professor of animal science, stated that bulls, and breeding bulls in particular, are generally dangerous and vicious animals, and that Jahnke should have restrained Fred or warned Bard of Fred’s presence. The trial court ruled for Bard on summary judgment. Jahnke appealed to the Appellate Division which reversed on the ground of Jahnke’s lack of knowledge of the vicious nature of Fred. The Court of Appeals of New York granted certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (Read, J.)

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Dissent (Smith, J.)

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