A Surrey teenager who was severely bitten by a pit bull has lost his lawsuit against its alleged owners and the owners of the Whalley recovery home he claimed the dog ran at him from.
The plaintiff was Shaheer Ali, by his litigation guardian Muzafar Ali and defendants were Satjinder Samra, Ravinder Samra, Tim Johns and Ashley Perry.
The case was heard in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. Ali is 19, but was a minor when the lawsuit was commenced. He sought damages for injuries sustained when a pit bull bit him while he was walking from his home to a nearby park when he was 15.
The plaintiff asserted the dog attacked him after it ran from a property owned by the Samras and claimed they were liable for his injuries under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, or because of their negligence. Perry and Johns, the two defendants alleged to have owned the dog, did not file a response to the notice of civil claim or participate in the court proceedings.
The court heard Ali left his house on May 3, 2015 to meet some friends at a nearby school playground and was walking down an alley. When he reached the corner of 98A Avenue and 132A Street, the court heard, a brown pit bull ran towards him from 13232 98A. The house on the property was a rooming house for recovering heroin addicts.
“The plaintiff ran away from the dog but it jumped on him and bit him severely on the back and under an arm,” Justice Gregory Bowden noted in his reasons for judgment. “He had done nothing to provoke the dog.”
Bowden noted that one of the tenants from the property ran to Ali’s rescue, pulled the dog off of him, and Ali’s dad took him to the hospital. At the time of the attack, the property had been rented to Mona Farbeh (aka Mona Afshari) and there was a tenancy agreement between herself and Satinder Samra, signed on July 29, 2011, with Samra’s consent that she sublet rooms in the house to recovering drug addicts. The agreement specified that no pets were permitted.
The tenant who helped Ali, Jamie Ross Smith, testified that the dog that bit the boy was staying at the property at the time and he described it as an “unpredictable inbred pit bull.”
“He said that the dog was originally owned by a tenant, Mr. Palmer, but then became owned by other tenants, Tim Johns and Ashley Perry, who are defendants in this action, but have since been evicted,” the judge noted.
“According to his statement to the police, Mr. Smith said that Ashley Perry was looking after the dog at the time of the incident. Apparently, shortly after the incident, Ashley Perry left the property in a vehicle with the dog. There are a number of inconsistencies both internal and external in Mr. Smith’s evidence and I do not find it to be reliable.”
The Samras testified they never saw a dog on the property and were not aware of any tenant keeping one there.
Bowden dismissed Ali’s lawsuit. Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, he found the definition of “premises does not include an alley behind the premises that is not part of the property owned by the defendants.
“In my view the plaintiff’s claim under the OLA must fail because he was attacked on property that was not part of the premises nor in respect of which the Samras were occupiers,” Bowden found. Concerning the claim of negligence, he found that “while the Samra defendants may have had a duty of care in respect of the tenants of the property and to visitors on the property, in my view they do not owe a care of duty to a stranger walking by the property.”
The judge concluded that even if the Samras knew there was a dog in the building on the property, they didn’t know it was dangerous.
“In my view no special circumstances were present that would give rise to a duty of care by the owners of the property to a pedestrian on an adjoining alley,” Bowden decided. As for Johns and Perry, he found, “the evidence falls short of establishing that they owned the dog.”