Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 11:47 UK

Hurt dog walker's appeal rejected

Black lab (generic)
The judges ruled that black labs were unlikely to cause serious injury

A dog walker who was knocked down and injured by a black labrador has failed to convince appeal judges to award her £160,000 in damages.

Patricia Welsh, 56, needed surgery on her knee after the dog collided with her in Wellbank, Angus, in 2005.

She tried to sue the labrador's owner, Neil Brady, but a judge ruled against her as it was "a pure accident".

Mrs Welsh appealed but the new judges ruled that black labs were unlikely to cause serious injury or death.

'Unforeseen collision'

Former college lecturer Mrs Welsh was exercising her golden retriever, Cava, at a field near her home when the black lab called Ebony ran into her.

When she took the case to the Court of Session, the judge Lord Malcolm ruled against her and warned that courts must not contribute to "the creation of a society bent in litigation".

Lord Malcolm said: "In my view, what occurred was an unfortunate and unforeseen collision - it was a pure accident.

"If the law was to consider a labrador running in a field as something which is dangerous in itself, this would come close to making dog owners insurers in respect of all injuries and damage caused by their animals."

The appeal, heard by Lord Nimmo Smith, Lady Dorrian and Sir David Edward QC, was based on the liability of the keeper of an animal under the 1987 Animals (Scotland) Act.

The legislation provides that a person will be liable for injury or damage caused if the animal belongs to a species which is generally likely to seriously injure or kill or cause damage to property.

Fell short

Sir David said the question for the appeal judges became: "Are fully grown black labradors, by virtue of their physical attributes or habits, likely, unless controlled or restrained, to injure severely or kill persons or animals?"

Ebony, a labrador bitch who weighed 25kg, was described as large, lively and boisterous.

She was considered excitable but not aggressive, although she did not always respond to commands to return to her owner.

Sir David said that Mrs Welsh's counsel, Colin MacAulay QC, had "sought valiantly" to persuade them that there was evidence to show that labradors could be dangerous.

But he said the appeal judges considered it "fell far short" of what was required to meet the legal test and the appeal was rejected.



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