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Byram v. Main

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Byram sued Main after his pet donkey escaped enclosure and was struck by a tractor-trailer owned by Byram.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A defendant is liable for harm caused by their pet if the animal does not have a history of being dangerous unless the owner caused the animal to do harm or was negligent in preventing the harm.

    Facts.

    Byram sued Main after his pet donkey escaped enclosure and was struck by a tractor-trailer owned by Byram. The trial court granted judgment to Main and the Maine Supreme Court reversed. When Main amended his complaint and added a strict liability claim, the jury held Main liable and awarded Byram damages.

    Issue.

    Whether a defendant is liable for harm caused by their pet if the animal does not have a history of being dangerous unless the owner caused the animal to do harm or was negligent in preventing the harm?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is vacated. Strict liability does not apply because no one has exclusive right and possession to a public highway.

    Discussion.

    A defendant is liable for harm caused by their pet if the animal does not have a history of being dangerous unless the owner caused the animal to do harm or was negligent in preventing the harm.


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