Jake Gruber, Jill Sherman, & Jake Gruber b/n/f Jill Sherman, Appellants-Plaintiffs,
YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, Ruth Lilly YMCA Outdoor Center, & Flat Rock River YMCA Resident Camp, Appellees-Defendants
Appeal from the Marion Superior Court. The Honorable Heather A. Welch, Judge. Case No. 49D06-1304-CT-14317.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: David F. Hurley, Hurley & Hurley, PC, Indianapolis, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: Mark D. Gerth, Jeffrey D. Hawkins, Michael Wroblewski, Kightlinger & Gray, LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Vaidik, Chief Judge. Kirsch, J., and Bradford, J., concur.
Vaidik, Chief Judge.
[¶1] An eleven-year-old boy was at Flat Rock River YMCA camp when a pig--which had never injured anyone or exhibited any dangerous propensities--stuck its head between the bars of its pen and grabbed the boy's hand, causing injuries. The boy and his mother sued the camp, and the camp filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the camp.
[¶2] On appeal, the boy and his mother acknowledge the general rule that owners of domestic animals are liable only if the owner knows or has reason to know that the animal has dangerous propensities. Nevertheless, they ask us to change the standard for liability of owners of domestic animals to that of strict liability when the animal is not a cat or dog. Because Indiana Supreme Court precedent is clear that this general rule applies to all domestic animals--and not just cats and dogs--we decline their invitation to alter the standard. We therefore affirm the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of the camp.
Facts and Procedural History
[¶3] On April 19, 2011, eleven-year-old Jake Gruber was a participant at Flat Rock River YMCA Camp in St. Paul, Indiana. Jake's mother, Jill Sherman, was a chaperone. Marcus Loidolt, who worked as a naturalist at the camp, owned a pig that lived on YMCA's premises nine months of the year. Marcus had owned the pig for six years, and the pig had never injured anyone or exhibited any dangerous propensities. In fact, the pig was regularly allowed to roam freely on YMCA's premises, and there had never been an incident.
[¶4] On April 19, Marcus took a group of twelve children, including Jake, into the pig's pen. The pen had three bars, but the pig could stick its nose through the bars. While inside the pen, Marcus dumped food out of a bucket so the children could watch the pig eat and pet it. After the pig ate, Marcus led the children out of the pen and locked the gate. Some of the children, including Jake, continued to watch the pig from outside the pen while Marcus was still inside the pen with the gate locked. While Jake was less than an arm's length away from the pen, the pig lunged at Jake, stuck its head between the bars, and " grabb[ed]" Jake's hand. Appellees' App. p. 32 (the plaintiffs' complaint). When the pig lunged at Jake, he was not attempting to feed or pet the pig, and the pig's feeding bowl was not near him. The pig did not show any signs of agitation or aggression on April 19.
[¶5] Jake was taken to the emergency room at Major Hospital in Shelbyville, Indiana. His hand was x-rayed, he was prescribed antibiotics, and he was told to follow up with his doctor.
[¶6] Nearly two years later, Jake and his mother (collectively, " the plaintiffs" ) filed a complaint against YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, Ruth Lilly YMCA Outdoor Center, and Flat Rock River YMCA Resident Camp (collectively, " the YMCA defendants" ). They alleged that the " attack of the pig was the result of the negligence and carelessness of the Defendants" and that as a result of the attack, Jake " suffered and incurred medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages[,] all of which may continue in the future." Id. at 6. They also alleged that the YMCA defendants " knew or should have known that the pig ...