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Brousseau v. Rosenthal
New York City Civil Court
110 Misc. 2d 1054, 443 N.Y.S.2d 285 (1980)
In August 1970, Junelle Brousseau (plaintiff) received a mixed-breed German Shepherd as a gift following the death of her husband. In July 1979, Brousseau left the dog in Benjamin Rosenthal’s (defendant) custody for boarding. When Brousseau arrived at the kennel less than two weeks later, Rosenthal informed her that the dog had died. Rosenthal was unable to offer an explanation as to how the dog had died. Brousseau pursued an autopsy of the dog, which was inconclusive on the cause of death. Brousseau then filed a negligence action against Rosenthal. At the trial, Brousseau testified about the deep connection she felt with her dog and the psychological trauma she suffered after the dog’s death. Evidence was also introduced that after the dog’s death, Brousseau’s home was robbed. Brousseau alleged that had the dog been alive, the dog’s barking would have scared away the intruders. The court determined that Brousseau and Rosenthal had entered into a bailor-bailee relationship, which shifted the burden onto Rosenthal, as the bailee, to rebut the presumption that he had acted negligently. The court found that Rosenthal had not rebutted the presumption of negligence. The court then considered the award of damages.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Taylor, J.)
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