(CN) – A YMCA camp whose pig injured a child is not liable because the pig had never hurt anyone in the past, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
Jake Gruber was 11 years old when he attended the Flat Rock River YMCA Camp in St. Paul, Ind.
Marcus Loidolt, a naturalist at the camp, owned the pig that lived at the camp for nine months out of the year. The pig had never hurt anyone and was allowed to roam the camp freely.
On April 19, 2011, Loidolt took 12 kids, including Jake, into the pig pen. Afterwards, Jake was standing outside the pen when the pig stuck its head through the bars and “grabbed” his hand.
Jake went to the emergency room for X-rays on his hand. He was given antibiotics and was told to follow up with his doctor.
Almost two years later, Jake and his mother, Jill Sherman, sued the camp, the Ruth Lilly YMCA Outdoor Center and the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis.
Claiming negligence, the plaintiffs alleged that the YMCA “should have known that the pig had dangerous propensities.”
A trial court ruled in the defendants’ favor, stating that “they had never received any complaints or had any previous incidents with the pig at issue.”
On appeal, the plaintiffs conceded that the pig was a domestic animal, and that owners of domestic animals are usually only found liable if they knew their animals had dangerous propensities.
However, they argued that a pig should not be “compared to a dog or cat which provides companionship as someone’s pet.”
The Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed and ruled in the YMCA’s favor.
“We, however, decline the plaintiffs’ invitation to impose a strict-liability standard on owners of domestic animals that are not cats or dogs,” Chief Judge Nancy H. Vaidik wrote on behalf of the court’s three-judge panel.
“This is because our Supreme Court has made clear that this rule applies to all domestic animals, not just cats and dogs,” she added.
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