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Published: Wednesday, 1/6/2010

Ohio Supreme Court ruling puts more teeth in dog bites lawsuits


COLUMBUS, Ohio — A ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court could put more of a bite on dog owners taken to court for injuries caused by their animals.

In a case from northeast Ohio's Summit County, the court ruled 5-2 Wednesday that owners may be sued both under the state's dog bite law and for more general negligence.

The decision is a victory for the family of a 12-year-old girl who was mauled by a dog and was hurt on the head.

A trial judge had allowed the girl's mother to sue the owners only under the dog bite statute, limiting the money award in the case. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $5,000 for the girl's medical bills and other costs.

The Supreme Court says the mother should also have been allowed to pursue a negligence claim and possible punitive damages.

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