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Sinclair v. Okata

874 F. Supp. 1051 (1994)

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Sinclair v. Okata

United States District Court for the District of Alaska

874 F. Supp. 1051 (1994)

Facts

Daniel Reinhard, a two-year-old boy, was bitten by his neighbor’s dog, Anchor. Anchor was a two-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd owned by Yoshitaka and Kazuyo Okata (defendants). The Okatas’ 17-year-old son was sleeping in their van in the driveway and had left Anchor in the driveway unsupervised and unleashed when Daniel was bitten. Anchor had bitten five other people before Daniel. Two of the previous bite victims needed stitches for their injuries, another bite victim went to the emergency room with multiple bite marks, and the two remaining bite victims had minor injuries not requiring medical attention. The bites occurred in the Okatas’ home, yard, or car, and the Okatas were aware of all the incidents. Daniel’s mother, Katherine Sinclair (plaintiff), individually and on behalf of Daniel and her 5-year-old daughter Michelle Levshakoff, who witnessed Daniel’s attack, filed a negligence and strict-liability suit against the Okatas. Sinclair moved for partial summary judgment on liability, arguing that the Okatas were strictly liable because Anchor had dangerous propensities and the Okatas had actual knowledge of his dangerous propensities. To support their opposition to Sinclair’s motion, the Okatas’ submitted expert testimony that Anchor did not have dangerous propensities and had only bitten out of natural instinct, either because he was overstimulated or due to his protective instinct or chase instinct.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Holland, C.J.)

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