A New Mexico federal court recently ruled that a homeowner’s insurance policy did not cover a dog bite occurring outside of the homeowner’s premises. A woman was injured after she took two dogs out for a walk on a leash. She and the leashed dogs were allegedly attacked outside of their home in Albuquerque by two American Pit Bull Terriers who lived with their owners about 2.7 miles away. The attack resulted in the woman sustaining bodily injuries and her husband experiencing injury in the form of a loss of consortium.
The injured parties sued their neighbors in New Mexico state court, and the neighbors’ insurance company defended the neighbors under a homeowner’s insurance policy. The insurance company then initiated proceedings in New Mexico federal court, seeking a declaration that it was not required to defend or indemnify its insureds in that suit, a dog bite case.
To resolve the dispute, the federal court reviewed the terms of the insurance policy at issue and the parties’ competing positions on availability of coverage.