Texas Coach Sued Over Monkey Bite Injury
You don’t hear a lot about monkey bite cases, and yet, here we are. Texas coach Jeff Banks and his girlfriend are facing a lawsuit over an alleged monkey bite that occurred on Halloween. The victim was a child.
According to the lawsuit, the victim and two friends were out trick-or-treating when they were invited into the Banks’ residence for a haunted house experience. Once through the house, the children were escorted to the backyard where they were shown a monkey who was trained to give high-fives. The monkey bit the child, resulting in a lawsuit. Further, in a bid to protect the monkey, the coach is accused of making false statements against the parents and the child, blaming them for the incident. Of course, it isn’t defamation to defend yourself from allegations, but, you can only take that so far.
Analyzing monkey bites
You don’t need a professional license to have a dog. You do need a professional license to own exotic pets. Monkeys are not like pets in that regard, but the same rules probably will apply to this lawsuit. The homeowners exposed children to a potentially dangerous monkey who bit the child causing injury. If Texas applies the same standards that they do to dog bite lawsuits, then the case will likely fail. To win a dog bite lawsuit, a victim must show that the dog had bitten someone else before or was of an aggressive breed likely to cause injury. Other forms of negligence may also apply. However, the one-bite rule would require the plaintiffs to show that the monkey had bitten someone else before.
That being said, monkeys and dogs follow different rules. A monkey owner may have specific standards imposed on them that a dog owner does not. Since monkey owners require certification to own monkeys, professional or licensing standards apply. This means that the monkey may exist in some other legal ethers beyond simple household pets. In other words, the rules that apply to exotic pets, would not necessarily apply to dogs.
As an example, let’s say your tiger gets sick of kids petting him on the head and decides to take one of their arms off. Just because the tiger never bit anyone before, it wouldn’t mean that the family wasn’t grossly negligent for exposing victims to tigers. In other words, the one-bite rule may not apply beyond household pets. But an incident like this is fairly rare, so there’s probably not a ton of precedent.
What else do I need to know about monkey bites?
Texas has separate rules for “dangerous exotic wild animals.” In fact, it has a whole list of animals that qualify. Monkeys are not on this list. Baboons and chimpanzees are. Hence, the statute may not apply to monkeys. If not, then the law would likely revert to the one-bite rule of domestic pets, or there would have to be a third framework for dealing with “non-dangerous exotic wild animals.”
Those who have exotic animals on the list must purchase liability insurance in the amount of at least $100,000 to keep the pet. If the monkey is uninsured, then the claim would be filed against the owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. So, some poor judge is going to have to make a lot of complex decisions.
Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been bitten by an animal, the Houston personal injury lawyers at Livingston & Flowers can help you file a claim against the current owner. Call today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your next steps with a skilled litigator.