The district knew that dogs were running into the school yard but little or nothing was done to prevent it. The child’s injuries were so extreme that the district feared a much higher jury verdict. Indeed, a jury, in its role as the conscience of the community, could very well return a higher verdict as a result of being outraged at the district’s inaction. (Click here to read the article.)
The Florida house of representatives still has to vote to order the district to pay the settlement (the headline is misleading, as you will realize when you read the article). Nevertheless, this settlement should provide a warning to government agencies that they can be held liable for their negligence in protecting at least children from dangerous dogs.
The issue of governmental responsibility for dog attacks boils down to one of sovereign immunity. When our ancestors were ruled by a king, there was a legal principle that “the king can do no wrong.” No matter what the king did, he could not be sued. Even though Americans no longer have a king, we still have sovereign immunity.
When it comes to dog attacks, the states, counties and cities generally are immune no matter how awful and negligent they are when it comes to getting rid of dangerous dogs. This is something that needs to be changed.