Grizzel v. Hickey (1991)
Andrew P. Ositis
Research Animals, Theft and Sale of
Case File #:
OR Linn County Circuit Court
Year Case Filed:
The plaintiff in this Oregon case brought an action alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the defendant, who was a licensed animal dealer. Plaintiff owned “My Girl,” a purebred cocker spaniel, whom plaintiff cared for and enclosed in a secure, fenced backyard. While My Girl was secure in her backyard, two other individuals seized her and transported her to defendant Hickey. Hickey was known to be engaged in the business of selling animals to research laboratories. Upon delivery of plaintiff’s dog to defendant, defendant allegedly stated that My Girl was too small for research and subsequently shot the dog and buried her remains. The defendant then allegedly lied to plaintiff about the description of the animal brought to him and the means used to kill the dog.
In the responding motion for summary judgment, defendant stated that after he refused to buy the cocker spaniel, the other individuals left it abandoned on his farm. He then shot the dog. Defendant claimed he was unaware that the dogs were stolen, and rebuffed plaintiff’s claim of negligence against him and his corporation, claiming there was no duty owed to the plaintiff. As to the emotional distress and punitive damages claim, defendant argued that such damages are generally not recoverable for damage to property and a claim of ordinary conversion does not usually merit punitive damages without a showing of malice or ill-intent.
Plaintiff’s response to the motion for summary judgment focused on defendant’s actions in killing the dog. Citing Oregon law, plaintiff noted that Oregon law does not allow one to kill a dog unless the dog is chasing livestock or attacking a person. The duty through which negligence could be imputed, according to plaintiff, rested in the objective circumstances that should have led defendant to know the dog had an owner and was not a stray. With regard to damages, plaintiff noted the manner in which the dog was killed by Hickey and suggested that a household pet is generally irreplaceable to the owner unlike other forms of personal property. Further, the great indifference and circumstances of the case justified the imposition of punitive damages here.
Chronology of Documents:
Plaintiff’s Complaint and Request for Jury Trial (May, 1990) (pdf. file 220 KB)
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (03/04/1991) (pdf. file 132 KB)
Plaintiff’s Response in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment (pdf. file 492 KB)