Appeal from the 165th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2015-14365
consists of Justices Wise, Zimmerer, and Spain.
CHARLES A. SPAIN JUSTICE.
Anna Gonzalez brought a claim for strict liability against
appellee Erwin Ahrens after she sustained injuries in an
incident with Ahrens's sheep "Lamby." After a
bench trial, the trial court signed a final judgment awarding
a take-nothing judgment in favor of Ahrens. On appeal,
Gonzalez argues that the trial court's implied findings
against her on her strict-liability claim were not supported
by legally- and factually-sufficient evidence. We affirm the
trial court's judgment as challenged.
owned a farm near Yoakum, Texas, with sheep, goats, cows,
horses, chickens, donkeys, and domestic cats and rabbits.
Ahrens kept one sheep, "Lamby," as his pet. Lamby
slept in Ahrens's house. Ahrens kept Lamby as a
"guard sheep" because of prior break-ins. Lamby was
friendly but could be territorial and protective when
interacting with strangers. On occasion, when he was
agitated, Lamby has headbutted (or butted) Ahrens and his
girlfriend. Ahrens joked about and showed Lamby's butting
to family and friends "because it was rather
amusing." Ahrens used to run a kolache shop in Houston;
he "would come and go" and split his time between
Houston and Yoakum.
2013, Ahrens scheduled an appointment to be fitted for
hearing aids with a company owned by Cindy Castello. Gonzalez
was a trainee. Before the appointment, Ahrens told Castello
and Gonzalez to call him before they came over because he was
not always at the farm and because he kept a "guard
and Gonzalez went to Ahrens's farm for the appointment.
Ahrens met them at the gate. Ahrens had a "No
Trespassing" sign on his gate. Lamby usually has
"free run of the property," but Ahrens penned up
Lamby with the other sheep during the visit. Castello and
Gonzalez met and petted Lamby. Ahrens told them that he
bottle-fed and raised Lamby as an orphan sheep. Ahrens was
supposed to have another appointment after he had some ear
wax buildup removed. Ahrens again told Castello and Gonzalez
they should call him beforehand because he might not be
there, and they should not enter the property if he was not
there. Ahrens did not receive any call about a follow-up
Thursday, August 29, 2013, Ahrens was in Houston. That same
day, Castello and Gonzalez returned to Ahrens's farm.
They opened the gate and drove to the house, and Lamby
trotted up to them. While they were removing items from the
truck, Lamby butted Castello. Castello and Gonzalez made it
to the porch and knocked on the front door, but there was no
answer. They discussed what they should do. Gonzalez, who
lived on a farm with livestock, told Castello she could
"handle" Lamby. While Castello returned to the
truck without incident, Gonzalez was chased by Lamby.
According to Gonzalez, Lamby butted her several times with
enough force that she "went airborne" and
"everything went black." According to Castello,
when Lamby caught up with Gonzalez, Lamby butted Gonzalez one
time, and she "hit the license plate a little bit."
Gonzalez's sunglasses and flip-flops "fell
off," and she suffered a scrape on her foot. Gonzalez
got back into the truck.
drove back to the company office, about an hour's drive
from Ahrens's farm. According to their coworker, Robert
Jakobeit, when Castello and Gonzalez returned to the office,
Gonzalez told him about the encounter with the sheep and was
laughing about it. Jakobeit stated that Gonzalez was not in
distress and only had a red mark on her foot from the broken
flip-flop. Gonzalez sought medical assistance the day after
the incident. According to Gonzalez, she suffered a traumatic
brain injury, underwent shoulder and back surgeries, and
would require additional surgeries as a result of the
did not find out about the incident until several months
later when he received a letter from Gonzalez's attorney.
He was shocked to find out that Lamby injured someone. Before
the incident, Ahrens never received any complaint that Lamby
attacked someone while he was not there.
filed suit against Ahrens,  alleging claims of strict
liability and negligence. The parties filed an agreed motion to
waive jury trial and for a preferential setting, which the
trial court granted. The case proceeded to a bench trial.
Ahrens, Gonzalez, Castello, and Jakobeit testified.
trial court signed its final judgment, rendering judgment in
favor of Ahrens and ordering that Gonzalez take nothing
against Ahrens. No party filed a post-judgment motion or
requested findings of fact and conclusions of law.
See Tex. R. Civ. P. 296, 329b. Gonzalez timely