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Irvine v. Rare Feline Breeding Ctr.
Indiana Court of Appeals
685 N.E.2d 120 (1997)
Mosella Schaffer (defendant) lived on a 50-acre farm where she raised and maintained exotic animals, including zebras, kangaroos, camels, and Siberian tigers. Scott Bullington rented a room in the garage area from Schaffer. Bullington was friends with Scott Irvine (plaintiff) and invited him over to see the animals. Schaffer also extended Irvine an open invitation to visit, and Irvine came by several dozen times over two years. Irvine and other visitors would occasionally pet the tigers through a fence while on the property. During one visit with Bullington, Irvine consumed a substantial amount of alcohol, and Bullington invited Irvine to sleep on his couch. Bullington left to attend a Christmas party, and Irvine decided to see the animals before he went to sleep. Irvine went to the tigers and put a couple of his fingers through the fence to pet one. Another tiger made some noise, and, while Irvine was looking away, the tiger he was petting pulled his arm through the fence. Schaffer heard Irvine shouting and came out to investigate. Schaffer banged on the fence and freed Irvine. Irvine was seriously injured and underwent six surgeries during a 13-day hospital stay. Irvine will likely need additional surgeries as well. Irvine sued Schaffer, alleging negligence, strict liability, and nuisance. Schaffer raised the defenses of incurred risk and assumption of risk. Irvine moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that these defenses are not available in a strict-liability animal case. The trial court mostly denied the motion, and Irvine appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chezem, J.)
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