Store Found Not Responsible For Wild Goose Attacking Customer

There are legitimate lawsuits and then there’s this:

A Maryland jury has rejected a negligence lawsuit brought by a woman who claims she was attacked by a nesting goose while at a shopping center.

Suzanne Webster claimed the shopping center and a pool store, Contemporary Watercrafters, didn’t do enough to protect the public from the nesting goose.

Said goose attacked Ms. Webster in the pool store’s parking lot, causing her to fall and break her hip. Webster’s attorney argued that store employees were negligent because they fed the goose.


Retail Store Not Responsible For Goose Attack
[WJZ via Fark]
(Photo:Kevin)

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  1. parad0x360 says:

    Jesus…When people bring on suits like this they themselves should be able to be sued by the company and the company should get her car..plain and simple. act like a moron and get treated like one.

  2. Hawk07 says:

    Yup, there should be some repercussion for people bringing about bogus lawsuits.

    I’m sure the ACLU would have a problem with that. However, if somebody legitimately thought they had a claim, they would be willing to risk it.

  3. UpsetPanda says:

    Okay, geese are not feathered friends. They are fierce, territorial creatures that must be avoided. I don’t see any proof that the employees were feeding the goose, and I don’t see how they could’ve gotten even close if the goose was indeed so territorial as to “attack” this woman.

  4. chartrule says:

    that must of been one large goose to break a hip

  5. Televiper says:

    You don’t mess around with Canada Geese. They are very big angry birds. I was staring one down once walking to work one morning. I only had to give it about 10 feet of breathing room (12 feet from his nest and mate) for it not to attack me. I called the Ministry and they basically said they have problem in that area every year, and they can’t do anything unless the owners of the property approach them.

    I’m not surprised she broke her hip. I would be even more surprised if there was no negligence on her part.

  6. homerjay says:

    @chartrule: “Bite your head off”

  7. waldy says:

    OK, weird as it sounds, I can actually relate to this one.

    There is a large store in my city with a patio cafe. People eating there often feed the birds, and on busy days the tables don’t get cleared fast enough, so there’s food sitting out attracting the birds. I mean, the things will be sitting on the chairs, landing on your table while you are still eating there–those birds have become absolutely fearless. I have actually had to defend my food from the scavengers.

    The owners don’t do anything to discourage this, despite the obvious health risks. And the birds’ bravery is starting to show up in other ways too–TWICE I had been dive-bombed walking through their parking lot. I was carrying no food, wearing no perfume or anything scented, and was doing nothing that might threaten or startle a bird…just walking. When I can’t even go to the grocery store without getting bonked on the head by a bird, things are getting a little out of hand.

    So maybe this lady’s case is totally different. I’m just saying: stores DO have a responsibility to keep their area safe for customers. Geese, as another poster above noted, are wild animals. While we certainly have to respect their habitat, too, employees should not be feeding birds and encouraging them to become dependent on humans and on OUR habitats.

  8. Snakeophelia says:

    I used to think Canada geese and swans were so lovely, and graceful, and poetic.

    Then I moved to Pennsylvania and actually encountered some.

    I’m certain that at least one New Hope tourist has hysterical videocam footage of me encountering a gang – and I do not use that word lightly – of geese, led by a swan, as they and I walked towards each other the sidewalk one afternoon. There was a flurry of feathers and much hissing, and when all was said and done, the geese had the sidewalk to themselves and I was running away – in the street – as fast as I could go.

    Those SOB’s are frightening. They do not back down when they think you are in their space. Who convinced them that the frickin’ sidewalk of a tourist trap town was their space, I don’t know.

  9. csdiego says:

    I’d say there’s nothing to see here. A woman brought a frivolous lawsuit and a jury shot it down. I’d say the system worked the way it’s supposed to.

  10. ToadKillerDog says:

    The store should have made the announcement
    GOOSE, GOOSE, DUCK!

  11. Meg Marco says:

    @homerjay: It was nearly as big as that cockroach someone saw up on 12.

  12. synergy says:

    @waldy: IAWTC

  13. cryrevolution says:

    @waldy: They have no proof the store employees were doing this. And this isn’t a restaurant, its a store. There are laws in place that prevents the store from handling the geese & removing the nest. There was nothing the store or the owner could do about it.

  14. parad0x360 says:

    @waldy: lol i got a image in my head of birds attacking you at panera bread and then being dive bombed on the way to the car…im sorry

    I can see if its a outdoor eatery and the owners are not doing anything about it as in your story, but this sounds like a regular store where MAYBE on a lunch break someone was tossing some crackers in the parking lot out the window of their car. Not enough to put birds into a hip breaking craze.

    How would this lady know anyways, did she sit in the parking lot all day and spy on people feeding birds?

  15. r4__ says:

    My dad loves to tell a story about his old job.
    He was a programmer at a health care company, and he was walking with a few coworkers to the parking lot. There were several very territorial geese that had set up shop next to the main entrance of the building. One of the big-ass female geese comes charging at one of his coworkers, a recent immigrant who had never seen a goose. This guy watches it run at him and frigging punts the goose away.

    The geese never bothered him again.

  16. homerjay says:

    @Meg Marco: Bra-Vo.

  17. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    Accidents happen… that’s why they are called accidents. As much as I’m sure she’s peeved she broke her hip, it’s no ones fault this territorial monster bird got a bee in his bonnet and swooped at her.

    I was telling some folk recently how I sprained my ankle pretty bad in a local restaurant. I wasn’t paying attention and just missed the two bottom steps. The first thing out of their mouths was, ‘Did you sue them?’ No, because I climbed up the steps, why should I sue because I don’t have the sense to shut up when I’m climbing down?

  18. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @parad0x360: There’s this sea-side restaurant where the pelicans (which are HUGE, by the way) like to swoop on patio diners and steal their crabs. I saw one guy lose the tip of his finger because he was waving a waffle to egg the pelican down. What was the restaurant supposed to do? People come to dine sea-side, and pelicans and gulls are by the sea. If they put up a fence or netting, it would ruin the ambiance.

  19. ConRoo says:

    Duoh!

  20. goodkitty says:

    Mess with the goose, and you get the bill…

  21. Auntie M. says:

    I was attacked in a parking lot because I walked in between the male and the female nesting far away in the parking lot. It was flying at me in back and pecking at my head. It was frightening! Those things are strong!! But I didn’t sue…

  22. Auntie M. says:

    @goodkitty:

    Ha! That’s good!

  23. emax4 says:

    I was thinking the way R4 was thinking: “Why not just kick the animal?” They won’t be so fearless then. I’m against animal abuse, but when they cross the line, you gotta defend yourself.

  24. cde says:

    @r4__: GIGGLESNORT!!! If i was drinkig anything, my laptop would have been soaked and short circuiting by now. Two internets for you!

  25. KJones says:

    I could understand suing if an alligator attacked someone on a golf course and there were no barriers to keep them out, but this (head)case is ludicrous. As if the mall had any control over the animal…. 9_9

  26. waldy says:

    @cryrevolution: How do you know there was no proof the employees were feeding the goose? And yes, stores are allowed–no, obligated–to keep public, frequently-walked areas like parking lots safe. They could have called animal protection and had the nest safely relocated. This article doesn’t tell us where the goose nest was in relationship to the store nor how close the lady got to it. Again, my experience is that birds (and geez, especially those on a nest of eggs) are VERY territorial and need little provocation to attack.

    If there was a bear by the mall, would anyone be defending the mall against negligence here? I may be making an apples-and-oranges comparison, but geese are still wild animals. I think we don’t have enough information to automatically blame the woman who sued.

    @parad0x360: Great–I was gonna go to Panera for lunch tomorrow! Now I’ll just be imagining flocks of wild geese aiming for the target that’s apparently painted on my head! :-)

  27. waldy says:

    @r4__: That is hilarious. Somewhere, there is a family of geese telling this exact same story: “And then the human just ran up and PUNTED Uncle Frank! And that’s why we don’t go near them anymore, Little Johnny….”

  28. louisb3 says:

    All this talk of aggressive geese has made me want to carry a baseball bat so I can violently defend myself against dangerous urban wildlife.

  29. RvLeshrac says:

    I’d say that the geese were here long before us.

    Unfortunately, some people just have the ‘If you can’t live with the wildlife, kill all of it’ mentality.

    You can certainly defend yourself from a charging animal, be it a buck or a goose. There are no laws against that. Just don’t be stupid about it. If you’re invading the animal’s territory, you’re responsible for what happens. I don’t know of any animals that won’t warn you before attacking – even tarantulas will rear up and hiss at you.

  30. trollkiller says:

    The last time I goosed a woman, I almost got sued.

  31. cde says:

    @trollkiller: Last time I goosed a woman, she made a man outta me >:D

  32. forgottenpassword says:

    I hate to sound like a sue-happy prick, but I DO believe that a store has the responsibility of keeping harmful/threatening animals from taking up residence on their property (that customers have access to)… thereby protecting their customers from such animals. If it was a big hornet’s nest or a behive on the store’s property wouldnt you agree? A territorial animal, be it a big goose, large rooster, or a big bull moose… is a hazard to customers if it takes up residense on a store’s property (parking lot).

    Just wanted to note that growing up… I have been attacked by roosters & geese before. Even got a large gash in my leg from one particularly large rooster. I also used to feed a nesting pair of canuckian geese at my work (rural work area where I work alone). They werent threatening at all to me. It did take me a few days for them to get used to me enough to be within 5 feet. Eventually they would fly across the lake to greet me when I arrived & would even allow me to touch them.

  33. bluesunburn says:

    Canadian geese are proof to me that birds descended from dinosaurs. Just watching them walk screams “velociraptor!” at me. :-)

  34. Youthier says:

    I love to play the hypothetical game… how would this have played out if instead of goose, it was a homeless man or woman that the store employees gave food to on a regular basis and he/she attacked this woman? Obviously, the attacker would face consequences but could the store be sued for that and possibly lose?

  35. vanilla-fro says:

    @waldy: I think if there was proof that employees were feeding it….the case may not have been denied. Also even if employees are feeding it, that doesn’t automatically make the store liable. They would have to know that employees are feeding the damn thing.

  36. PinkBox says:

    My niece walked up to a nesting goose once, and I had to run and lift her over my head because of the incoming male goose.

    Honestly though, I don’t think a goose is going to do any real damage to an adult.

  37. Brad2723 says:

    This is why we need a loser-pays legal system

  38. vladthepaler says:

    Hasn’t got the goose got a case against her for disturbing her nest?

  39. barfoo says:

    @causticitty: Actually geese can carry rabies.
    [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

  40. mattindustries says:

    I am kind of leaning towards her side on this one. What if there was a mountain goat they were feeding and then the mountain goat attacked someone? I know this is escalating it, but really geese are crazy.

  41. Benstein says:

    Here in Pennsylvania we just kill them:
    [www.thepittsburghchannel.com]

  42. Balisong says:

    I’m getting a kick out of these comments! There’s geese that hang around my office building in the winter, and I always walked right through the crowd of them and they got out of my way. Now I’m gonna be watching my back…

  43. Those geese are bitches. One nested right behind the back door to my dorm in college and, when my poor nun walked out the back door, ATTACKED HER AND TOOK HER OUT. She wasn’t a very big woman, but once it had her on the ground, she could NOT get out from under the attack. Those things are vicious!

    I’ve also seen Navy officers in full dress uniform run in terror from geese, though one would think fear of waterfowl would tend to make one want to join the Army instead.

  44. @Snakeophelia: “They do not back down when they think you are in their space. Who convinced them that the frickin’ sidewalk of a tourist trap town was their space, I don’t know.”

    The Canadian Geese almost went extinct and then were protected for a long time, so they learned pretty damn fast that people would do them no harm, as they were not legally allowed to.

    They’re fond of playing fields, so most high schools in my area have a mob that lives there. They will stand in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD and face down cars, hissing and flaring their wings. No fear at all.

    My dad says this is the problem with crows, too — if they don’t get shot at periodically, they lose all fear of humans and get damned aggressive. He continually grouses about how when HE was a kid, crows didn’t DARE get that close to people on the farm.

  45. trollkiller says:

    @cde: I must have done it wrong… can you teach me.

  46. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Yep I hate crows! They used to terrorize my puppy when I was a kid. I got a .22 rifle when I was 8 so they didn’t mess with him anymore after I off’d 3 or 4 of them.

    @ceejeemcbeegee: Yeah I have been to resturants like that too. There is one out here in Socal where you are eating literally 30 feet from the ocean. Darn seagulls will swope down and grab the food out of your hand while your eating. The pelicans at least just squak(sp?) until someone tosses them something. I hate that , I never feed them but they just won’t leave you alone.

    Once while on vacation in Monterrey Ca. we had a bag of baked cheese puffs on our blanket and a flock of seagulls took off with the whole bag. It wasn’t even opened yet! I wasn’t looking and didn’ even realise what happened until pieces of cheetos were falling on us.

  47. UpsetPanda says:

    While I was reading comments, I had a thought…what if the goose had been fed by employees who saw them walk toward him as they were leaving and the employees threw whatever food they had in their hands to distract the goose while they were leaving? In that case, even if employees weren’t intentionally feeding the goose, would this woman have a case? Animals are all about learned behavior and reaction. If employees did this to ward off a goose, the goose would learn that walking toward the human with the food would bring food to it.

  48. meeroom says:

    Another scary goose story, I played chicken (ha ha) on a sidewalk with a goose one day and I lost. I ran like a 3rd grader away from it, it was not backing down, hissing, you name it.
    Why don’t we eat geese anymore? I hear goose fat is delish.

  49. cde says:

    @meeroom: Migratory Bird Act, Endangered Species act.

  50. Rusted says:

    I don’t think they are endangered anymore. Too many of em’.

  51. ladynurse says:

    re: geese carry rabies? last i heard rabies is a mammal disease and i think geese lay eggs!