Is a Dog Bite Debt dischargeable in Chapter 7 BK?
In this case, it was.
Here is a bankruptcy case that a Debtor’s dogs bit someone. You would think the debt caused by the injury was not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, it was. As we know, not all Debts are Dischargeable in Bankruptcy. I am sharing the following case to give you an example of a Dischargeable Debt in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Two German Shepherd dogs (Daisy and Oden) lived with their owner in a mobile home park. No matter what the owner tried, the dogs found a way to escape.
City animal welfare issued a Notice of Dangerous Dog. Their Notice indicated: Determination/Irresponsible owner for both dogs. Following the Notice, an Order was entered wherein the dog owners did not appear in Court. In addition, City law required an owner of a dangerous dog to have a $500,000 insurance policy for possible injury. The owner did not carry this insurance.
Daisy again escaped and ran into a neighbor’s property and bit the neighbor. The neighbor fell and hurt her leg.
The injured party sued the dog owner. A $25K default judgment was awarded.
Dog Owner Files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
The Dog owner files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relief to get this Dog Bite debt discharged in Bankruptcy
After the owner filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the injured party files an adversary proceeding against the Dog Owner. The injured party wanted to stop the debt from being dischargeable.
Bankruptcy Court Ruling:
The Dog owner’s acts were negligent and indifferent to the fact that Daisy and Oden might be able to escape again. There was no prior knowledge of Daisy and Oden biting anyone in the past. It was clear that the Dog owners violated the strict City law for insurance. However, this is clearly only negligence.
In Bankruptcy, this Dog Bite Debt was dischargeable. Nothing done by the Dog owners rose to the level of malicious and willful. Section 523(a)(6) of the bankruptcy code is a strict standard.
A Board-Certified Attorney https://www.abcworld.org/about-abc would know this before filing the adversary proceeding for the injured party. As a result, the injured party sustained not only physical damages but monetary damages. The injury party paid legal fees.
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