Investment banker, 49, who was ordered to pay cyclist, 71, £50,000 after he was left brain-damaged when her dog ran into his path and caused him to crash wins legal bid to appeal ruling
- David Crane was riding to work when Carina Read’s cocker spaniel ran into path
- Publishing executive suffered brain haemorrhage when he flew over handlebars
- Last year judge ruled that Ms Read was negligent, having failed to call back dog
- But another judge has granted banker permission to appeal against that ruling
An investment banker whose dog left a cyclist brain damaged after running across his path has won the right to fight a court order that she must pay him up to £50,000 in compensation.
David Crane, 71, was riding to work on his morning commute when Carina Read’s cocker spaniel ran into his path while chasing a ball on Acton Green Common, west London, in March 2016.
The publishing executive suffered a brain haemorrhage when he flew over the handlebars after braking to avoid the canine.
He alleged Ms Read, an Irish financier and entrepreneur, negligently failed to keep her pet under control while exercising him on the common and took the case to the Central London County Court where he demanded up to £50,000 compensation.
Ms Read denied all blame and insisted the accident was a ‘freak occurrence’ and said her dog Felix only ran in front of the bike because he was ‘stunned’ after the ball hit him on the head.
Last year Judge Patrick Andrews ruled that Ms Read was negligent, having failed to call back Felix as he shot towards the path and the oncoming cyclist.
But now Judge Alan Saggerson has granted the banker permission to appeal against that ruling.
David Crane (right), 71, alleged Carina Read (left) negligently failed to keep her pet under control while exercising him on Acton Green Common, west London, in March 2016
The judge told the court: ‘We all know that cyclists whether on path, road or common, have a sense of absolute entitlement to do whatever they want to do and we all know that dog owners also have a similar sense of entitlement to do exactly what they want to do irrespective of anybody else. It’s quite a conundrum.’
The Animals Act 1971: How you can be sued even if your animal is NOT dangerous
According to the Animals Act 1971, where damage is caused by an animal which does not belong to a dangerous species, a keeper of the animal is liable for the damage, except as otherwise provided by the Act, if;
- The damage is of a kind which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which, if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe; and
- The likelihood of the damage or of its being severe was due to characteristics of the animal which are not normally found in animals of the same species or are not normally so found except at particular times or in particular circumstances; and
- Those characteristics were known to that keeper
Last year Mr Crane sued Ms Read for negligence as well as under the 1971 Animals Act, which her lawyers argued only relates to damage done by a dangerous animal.
The ‘seasoned cyclist’, who said he has ridden a bike around London for over 40 years without mishap, said he was cycling with care and at no more than five miles per hour when the dog ran in front of him.
He said the accident occurred in a ‘split second’, adding: ‘The first time I was aware of the dog was when it was right in front of me’.
Mr Crane denied claims he was hurrying to get to work on time or that he was riding too fast.
His barrister Helen Pooley said he sustained a ‘not insignificant brain injury’, affecting his hearing, memory, concentration and ability to drive, leaving him with headaches and impairing his sense of taste and smell.
Mr Crane declared himself ‘100% a dog lover’, and said outside court that he now walks friends’ dogs for exercise because he can no longer ride his bike or go skiing.
Insisting Ms Read should be cleared of blame for the accident, her barrister Nigel Lewers told the judge that when she threw the ball for Felix the path was clear.
He said the ball bounced off the dog’s head as he chased it, deflecting it towards the path: ‘At that point, she became aware of Mr Crane cycling at speed with his head down.
‘She tried to warn him, but Felix chased the ball across the path and was struck by the front wheel of the bicycle.
‘She was doing what she and no doubt many others had done in the same or similar areas of the common – throwing a ball for her dog down an open strip of grass and not in the direction of the path.’
Ms Read claimed that Felix only ran in front of the bike because he was ‘stunned’ after the thrown ball hit him on the head.
She also claimed Mr Crane was going too fast and should not have been riding on the path as it was out of bounds to cyclists in line with local bylaws.
Mr Crane was riding to work across a park on his morning commute when Ms Read’s cocker spaniel (pictured) ran into his path
Judge Andrews found against her last year, saying: ‘After considering all the facts and evidence, I find that on balance of probabilities, in failing to call back Felix, which she clearly had time to do, Ms Read exposed Mr Crane to risk of injury.’
But Judge Saggerson told Ms Read’s barrister Nigel Lewers last week: ‘You lost because the judge decided that the dog owner’s duty of care included avoiding actions causing any accident involving personal injury.’
Asking for permission to appeal, Mr Lewers argued the accident wasn’t foreseeable and that Judge Andrews misunderstood the evidence.
He said: ‘Judge Andrews had made his decision on ”a misunderstanding of the facts” because he said in his ruling that Ms Read had thrown the ball towards the path, which was neither Mr Crane’s nor her case.
‘This feeds into the question of probability. There wasn’t a foreseeable risk of injury in this case.’
Judge Saggerson gave Ms Read permission to appeal the decision against her and said he would hear the case himself – ‘not because I have any special liking for cyclists or dogs but because I have read the entire file in some detail’.
He said: ‘It seems to me obvious that it’s for the claimant in the first instance to prove that he was entitled to be cycling where he was cycling; either that he was cycling on a permitted pathway or that there was no explicit prohibition on cycling.
‘It seems to me that if the claimant wants to say he was permitted to be cycling here it’s up to him to demonstrate that.
‘It seems entirely feasible that the application of the argument that this was not a permitted cycle way or that at least cyclists were not permitted on this part of the path may well limit the nature and extent of the duty which someone exercising their dog with a ball in the vicinity of a path has towards somebody inappropriately using the pathway as a cyclist. ‘
According to court papers, Mr Crane’s claim was for up to £50,000 compensation, although the exact amount he is due if he wins has not yet been decided.
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