Skip to main content

Animal Talk: Progressive v Sheppard (2022)

Animal Talk: Progressive v. Sheppard (2022)

: 1.0 G

Originally presented on February 25, 2022

The Animal Law Section hosts this one-hour Animal Talk with Attorney Tracy Jenks to discuss a subrogation case she is handling in which her client has been sued by an insurer to recover damages.

Progressive v. Sheppard is before Judge Denise Barela Sheppard (no relation) on an appeal from a determination by a Court-appointed arbitrator that was adverse to the Defendant, Michael Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard's family pet, Luka, somehow got out of a fenced yard on the afternoon of August 27, 2019. Shortly thereafter, Luka was struck and killed on Juan Tabo Boulevard by a Hyundai Sonata that was insured by Progressive. The Hyundai was deemed a total loss. Progressive paid the claim and sued Mr. Sheppard in subrogation for $17,000.00. The sole basis relied upon for their Complaint in Subrogation is the ipso facto violation of two statutory provisions, a municipal and county ordinance, regarding proper fencing or containment of dogs in the City of Albuquerque. Mr. Sheppard's counsel, representing him pro bono, filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the ordinances do not impose a strict liability standard on dog owners for property damage occasioned by an "at large" dog. Rather, a negligence standard should apply in this case, and there was no evidence of negligence on the part of Mr. Sheppard. The arbitrator's award seemed to conclude that this is indeed a strict liability case. There has been no activity in this matter since it was appealed to the district court in June 2021.