What Happens When the President's Dog Bites Someone?

What Happens When the President's Dog Bites Someone?

Disclaimer: Today’s post is purely hypothetical.

What happens when the President of the United States’s dog bites someone?

That’s what occurred earlier this week when President Obama’s Portugese waterdog Sunny bit a White House guest.  The injury required stitches.

I’m licensed in California and familiar with California’s dog bite laws.

In California, a dog owner is strictly liable for injuries caused when his/her dog bites someone.  I don’t know what the law is in Washington D.C.

Regardless, this story brings up another important issue: Presidential immunity.

The President of the United States is immune from civil liability for acts undertaken while he’s president.

A President, can, however, be sued for acts he committed before assuming the Presidency.  He can even be sued for prior acts while he’s president, as Bill Clinton was in the 1990s.

These rules were articulated by a unanimous Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones.

Hypothetically, if the President’s dog bit someone in California, California law imposes liability on the President.  But federal law supersedes state law, and therefore the President ultimately would probably not be liable if the injury occurred in California.

A very interesting case!

Regardless, if you or someone you know suffered a dog bite injury in California, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6.  And that’s not a hypothetical!