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Greenlee v. Sevier County

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

April 26, 2018

HOWARD L. GREENLEE
v.
SEVIER COUNTY, TENNESSEE

          Session January 18, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sevier County No. 2009-0302-IV O. Duane Slone, Judge

         This action involves a claim for compensatory damages for personal injury caused by a police dog. The defendant sought summary judgment, arguing that the victim, an officer acting in the course and scope of his employment, was a participant in the act or conduct that prompted the need for the dog's services, thereby removing liability pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 44-8-413(b)(1). The court agreed and granted summary judgment. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Reversed; Case Remanded

          Sidney W. Gilreath and Cary L. Bauer, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Howard L. Greenlee.

          Rhonda L. Bradshaw and Andrew N. Firkins, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sevier County, Tennessee.

          John W. McClarty, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr. and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          JOHN W. McCLARTY, JUDGE

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 24, 2008, Officer Howard Greenlee ("Plaintiff"), while in the course and scope of his employment for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, attempted a traffic stop. The suspect fled on foot, prompting Plaintiff to request assistance from the Sevier County Sheriff's Office ("Defendant"). Defendant dispatched a K-9 unit, consisting of Deputy Blaine Lewis and a police dog ("Jodie"). The search for the suspect led Deputy Lewis and Jodie to a mobile home, where the two went underneath the home in pursuit of the suspect. Jodie emerged first and subsequently attacked Plaintiff, who was standing nearby, while Deputy Lewis remained underneath the home.

         Plaintiff sustained significant injuries. He later filed suit, alleging that Deputy Lewis and Defendant failed in their duty to keep Jodie under reasonable control as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 44-8-413, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(a)(1) The owner of a dog has a duty to keep that dog under reasonable control at all times, and to keep that dog from running at large. A person who breaches that duty is subject to civil liability for any damages suffered by a person who is injured by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in or on the private property of another.
(2) The owner may be held liable regardless of whether the dog has shown any dangerous propensities or whether the dog's owner knew or should have known of the ...

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