Cases

  • This North Carolina case involves the issue of whether a landlord can be held liable for negligence when his tenant's dogs injure a third party where a landlord has agreed by contract to remove "undesirable" dogs.  Under the terms of the lease, the tenant, Olson, could keep one Rottweiler dog on the property.  It was also stipulated that the landlord could require removal of any "undesirable" pets with 48-hour's notice.  The dogs in the instant action attacked a contractor who was making an estimate on some of the rental homes, and, according to testimony, had committed two prior attacks.  The court concluded that the Court of Appeals erred, in that the plaintiff was not required to show Colonial was an owner or keeper of the dogs in order to show Colonial was negligent; that requirement is limited only to strict liability actions.  As a result, the court found Colonial failed to use ordinary care by failing to require the defendant Olson to restrain his Rottweiler dogs, or remove them from the premises when the defendant knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known, from the dogs' past conduct, that they were likely, if not restrained, to do an act from which a reasonable person could foresee.  Of particular importance to the court, was the lease provision, which the court felt contractually obligated the landlord to retain control over defendant's dogs. 

  • In this case, Michael Holcomb filed a civil action against Charles Long alleging that Long’s negligence in saddling one of the horses that he owned resulted in Holcomb falling from the horse and suffering serious injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Long holding that he was entitled to civil immunity under Georgia’s Injuries From Equine or Llama Activities Act. Holcomb appealed the trial court’s decision arguing that Long’s negligence was not covered by the act. The court of appeals reviewed the case and affirmed the trial court’s decision. The court of appeals determined that the issue with the saddle that caused Holcomb to fall did not fall under any of the exceptions under the Act that would allow Long to be civilly liable. As a result, the court of appeals affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Long.

  • A dog, on two separate occasions, entered residential premises, turned over a cage and killed a guinea pig. The applicant claimed that this was insufficient evidence for the dog to be declared 'dangerous'. The judge found that a dog's propensity to pursue one animal should not be distinguished from a propensity to pursue all animals and that the finding of the dog as 'dangerous' should stand.

  • The Plaintiff owns and operates an apartment complex with a policy that prohibits defendants from keeping a dog on the premises. The Defendant, Bonesteel, began renting an apartment at Plaintiff's complex in 2011 under a one-year lease. Defendant continued to renew his one-year lease for additional one-year terms until 2014. Defendant's therapist sent a letter to the Plaintiff requesting an exception to the no dog policy so that the Defendant could have an emotional support animal. The Plaintiff denied the request but stated that it would allow a bird or cat or an early termination of Defendant's lease. The Plaintiff filed an action seeking a judgment declaring that the Plaintiff's refusal to permit the Defendant to have an emotional support dog was not in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Human Rights Law (HRL). The Plaintiff subsequently reduced the Defendant's lease renewal term to three months. The Defendant filed counterclaims on grounds of discrimination. The Supreme Court of New York also granted a motion allowing the Attorney General to intervene. The Attorney General asserted counterclaims on similar grounds to those raised by the Defendant. After a nonjury trial, the trial court issued a judgment that the Plaintiff's actions did not violate the FHA and the HRL. The Defendant then appealed. On appeal, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether the Plaintiff's claims were justiciable even though the matter was not raised by the parties. Since the Plaintiff had already denied the Defendant's request for an exception to the policy when it filed the action and no harm to the Plaintiff occurred or was impending, it was essentially asking the Court to issue an advisory opinion which is not an exercise of judicial function. Therefore, the Court dismissed the Plaintiff's declaratory judgment. The Court then considered the Defendant's counterclaims since concrete injuries were alleged. The only two arguments addressed were whether the Defendant actually had a qualifying disability within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL and whether the accommodation requested was necessary to afford the Defendant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy his dwelling. The Court concluded that the Defendant met his burden to establish that he is disabled within the meaning of the FHA and HRL. The Court also found that the Defendant "offered sufficient evidence that having an emotional support dog would affirmatively enhance his quality of life by ameliorating the effects of his disability, and thus demonstrated necessity within the meaning of the FHA and the HRL." Lastly, the Court found that the Plaintiff retaliated against the Defendant by reducing his lease renewal terms to three months. Accordingly, Defendant was entitled to judgment in his favor on the retaliation counterclaims.
  • Sauk Rapids, Minnesota passed a city ordinance limiting the number of dogs that could be kept in a residential home. The appellants were dog owners, breeders, and Ms. Holt, who also rescued Newfoundland dogs help find new homes for them. The lower court held that the ordinances were unconstitutional, but the city appealed and on appeal the court reversed the finding. Minnesota law granted the municipality the authority to regulate public and private property, including regulating the keeping of dogs on residential property. City Hall received many complaints concerning dogs, so the Sauk Rapids ordinance was introduced by the mayor to address issues with dog odor and noise. Because limiting the number of dogs can reduce odor and noise, the court found that there was a rational relationship between the ordinance and reducing the problems associated with the dogs. The dog owners failed to show that the ordinance was unreasonable. The constitutionality was upheld because the ordinance was rationally related to the health, safety, and general welfare of the community as affected by dogs.
  • A driver hit a cow standing in the road and the driver brought suit against the cow's owner and the owner's insurance agency.  The trial court held in favor of the driver and the Court of Appeals affirmed based upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.

  • In this Oregon case, the defendant appealed a conviction for violating Hood River County Ordinances (HRCO) under which the owner of a dog may not allow it "to become a public nuisance * * * " by "[d]isturb[ing] any person by frequent or prolonged noises[.]" (Her dog was reported to have barked for six straight hours.)  The defendant argued that the ordinances are invalid as applied to her because ORS 30.935 immunizes farm practices from the application of local government ordinances.  The defendant operated a farm with a herd of 60 cashmere and angora goats on land that bordered a national forest and used her dogs to keep predators at bay.  The Court of Appeals noted that once defendant raised the defense of the right to farm practice, the county had the burden of disproving it, which it failed to do.  Further, the trial court erred by disregarding uncontested facts that established defendant's immunity.

  • In this Texas case, Hoog-Watson asserted that a search and seizure of her home violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Texas tort law, and sought both monetary and injunctive relief against county officials. On appeal, this Court found that Hoog-Watson presented sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether the the requisite prior criminal proceeding took place, thereby precluding summary judgment. As to County Attorney Murray-Kolb's claim of prosecutorial immunity, this court found that because Murray-Kolb partipated in the search and seizure, an investigative function normally performed by the police, she is protected only by qualified immunity.

  • The owner of a bird of prey had kept it in a wire aviary for at least six weeks, during which it had injured itself by repeatedly flying into the wire mesh. Having been convicted on these facts of an offence of cruelly ill-treating the bird contrary to the first limb of s 1(1)(a) of the Protection of Animals Act 1911, he appealed, contending that under that limb, unlike the second limb, he should only have been convicted if he was guilty of a positive act of deliberate cruelty. Dismissing the appeal, the Divisional Court held that a person could be guilty of cruel ill-treatment of an animal he was responsible for by allowing it to remain in a situation where it was continuing to injure itself, even if he did not desire to bring about the harm.

  • Action brought on behalf of Alaskan Eskimos which challenged the validity of the Department of Commerce regulations adopted pursuant to IWC Act. Plaintiffs claim is the the Commission exceeded its jurisdiction under the Convention when it eliminated the native subsistence exemption for Alaskan Eskimos. The Court reverses and remands the districts courts dismissal of the action.

  • Native American medicine woman and her husband convicted of illegally possessing wild bird feathers in violation of Virginia statute.  The Virginia Court of Appeals held that the statute violates RFRA because it does not provide a scheme to possess feathers for religious purposes, as it does for other purposes.  Thus, the statute was not religiously neutral because it discriminated based on content and the state did not employ the least restrictive means in advancing its compelling interest.  For further discussion on the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • The defendant was charged under the Alabama cruelty to animal statute killing a dog.  The trial court found the defendant guilty of cruelly killing the dog.  The defendant appealed the descision to the Supreme Court for the determination if the killing of the dog with a rifle was cruel.  The Supreme Court found that the killing of a dog without the showing of cruelty to the animal was not a punishable offence under the cruelty to animal statute.  The Supreme Court reversed the lower court's descision and remanded it.

  • Petitioner sold dogs and puppies without an Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) dealer license. An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found the Petitioner violated the AWA and issued a cease and desist order to prevent further violations of the Act and ordered Petitioner to pay $14,430 in civil penalties. Both Petitioner and Respondent, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), appealed the ALJ's decision to a judicial officer (“JO”), acting for the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, who increased the civil penalties amount from $14,430 to $191,200. Petitioner appealed this decision, alleging that (1) the ALJ and JO erred by failing to determine the willfulness of his actions, and (2) the JO improperly applied the Department's criteria for assessing civil penalties. The 6th Circuit found that since the AWA did not contain a willfulness requirement, the JO's failure to make a willfulness determination was not an abuse of discretion. Further, the 6th Circuit held that the JO's factual findings regarding Petitioner's dog sales were supported by substantial evidence. Lastly, the 6th Circuit held the size of the civil penalty assessed against Petitioner was warranted by law. The court denied the petition for review and affirmed the Secretary's Decision and Order.
  • An engaged, live-in couple purchased a dog together and listed both of their names on the American Kennel Club registration.  While speaking to his girlfriend about ending the relationship, the boyfriend promised her that she could keep the dog, but failed to fulfill that promise; the court required specific enforcement of that promise. In addition, the court found that dogs possess special subjective value similar to "heirlooms, family treasures, and works of art."

  • A mother renting housing alleged that her son was "mentally challenged" and required the companionship of a dog pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The court rejected the tenant's allegations that her son had a qualifying mental disability, reasoning that the son received high marks in school prior to the commencing of the eviction proceedings. The court held that without evidence of a mental or physical disability, no reasonable accommodation is required.

  • While cleaning a cage at a chimpanzee sanctuary, the plaintiff was twice attacked by a chimpanzee, which left the plaintiff without much of her thumb. Plaintiff brought a suit against the sanctuary based on claims of strict liability; under a statute and common law; negligence; and gross negligence. At the district court, the plaintiff lost because she had signed a waiver releasing the sanctuary from liability "on all claims for death, personal injury, or property damage" and because she failed to state a claim in regards to the gross negligence charge. In affirming the lower court's decision, the appellate court found an enforceable contract existed with the waiver, and that there was no evidence of reckless disregard on defendant's part to rise to the level of gross negligence.

  • As the result of a dog bite on the defendant’s rental property, the plaintiff suffered a torn cheek and irreparable damage to her ear. The plaintiff therefore attempted to recover damages from the defendant on the common law theory of negligence and through Illinois’ Animal Control Act. The trial court, however, dismissed the Animal Control Act claim and, later, granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the negligence claim. Upon appeal, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision, though it stated a motion for summary judgment was more appropriate then the motion to dismiss for the Animal Control Act claim.   
  • In this Georgia case, the plaintiff was injured from being bitten by defendants' dog who was chained to the bed of their pickup truck while the defendants were inside an adjacent restaurant. The plaintiff sued defendants, claiming that they failed to warn her of their dog's dangerous propensities and that they committed negligence per se by violating the state's strict liability statute (OCGA § 51-2-7) and the Hall County Animal Control Ordinance. A jury found in favor of the defendants. The court found that the evidence was therefore more than sufficient to support the jury's conclusion that defendants' dog was “under restraint” for purposes of the ordinance. Further, there was no evidence that the owners had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensity. Affirmed.

  • The Oklahoma statute at issue prohibited transporting or shipping outside the State for sale natural minnows seined or procured from waters within the State. Appellant, who held a Texas license to operate a commercial minnow business in Texas, was charged with violating the Oklahoma statute by transporting from Oklahoma to Texas a load of natural minnows purchased from a minnow dealer licensed to do business in Oklahoma.  In overruling Geer v. Connecticut, the Court held that the Oklahoma statute on its face discriminated against interstate commerce by forbidding the transportation of natural minnows out of the State for purposes of sale, and thus overtly blocking the flow of interstate commerce at the State's border.

  • This Pennsylvania case involves an appeal by allowance from orders of Superior Court which affirmed an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County and imposed counsel fees and costs upon the appellants, Clayton Hulsizer and the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA). Hulsizer, an agent of the PSPCA, filed this action in equity seeking injunctive and declaratory relief against the appellee, Labor Day Committee, Inc., for their role in conducting an annual pigeon shoot. Hulsizer sought to have appellee enjoined from holding the shoot, alleging that it violates the cruelty to animals statute. At issue is whether Hulsizer has standing to bring an enforcement action in Schuylkill County. This court found no inconsistency in reading Section 501 and the HSPOEA (Humane Society Police Officer Enforcement Act) together as statutes that are in pari materia. Since the HSPOEA does not limit the jurisdiction of humane society police officers by requiring them to apply separately to the courts of common pleas in every county in Pennsylvania, the officer had standing to bring an enforcement action. The lower court's orders were reversed.
  • Court decided that the type of branding mandated by Secretary of Agriculture constitutes cruelty to animals because other less painful and equally effective alternatives exist and therefore freed dairy farmers to use other branding methods like freeze branding.

  • In this appeal, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) challenged a series of actions by the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow hunting on some of America's national wildlife refuges. The District Court held that HSUS failed to satisfy the Supreme Court's requirements for associational standing because the 'recreational' interest of Society members was not germane to the group's self-described mission of insuring the humane treatment of animals and other wildlife. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court's finding that the Humane Society had no standing to challenge the hunt openings, and remanded the action to allow HSUS to pursue its challenge to the introduction of hunting. This Court did affirm the district court's finding on the merits that the Wildlife Service complied with NEPA when it permitted hunting at the Chincoteague preserve. Affirmed in part and reversed in part.

  • In order to manage sea lion predation of salmonids at the Bonneville Dam, the NMFS decided to authorize agencies from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho to lethally remove sea lions that were not protected by the ESA when efforts to deter their feeding on salmonids failed. The Humane Society of the United States, Wild Fish Conservancy, Bethanie O'Driscoll, and Andrea Kozil disagreed and sued the NMFS; the agencies of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho intervened. Finding that the NMFS’s authorizations did not conflict with the MMPA’s protection of Stella Sea Lions, that the NMFS complied with the National Environmental Protection Act, and that the NMFS did not act arbitrarily and capriciously when it issued the authorizations, the district court granted the NMFS’s and the state agencies’ cross motion for summary judgment. The case was therefore dismissed.

  • The Humane Society of the United States sought an injunction to prevent the lethal depredation of gray wolves. The district court granted the injunction but, while the case was on appeal, the United States Department of the Interior removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.  After the gray wolf was removed from the Endangered Species List, all parties agreed that the delisting of the gray wolf rendered the appeal moot.  The Court of Appeals vacated the district court's ruling.

  • Environmental groups brought challenge under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) against a Rule promulgated by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) designating a particular geographic group of gray wolves as a “distinct population segment” (DPS) and removing the particular group from the endangered species list. The United States District Court, District of Columbia, held that the ESA is ambiguous with respect to whether the ESA permits FWS to use the DPS tool to remove ESA protections from a healthy sub-population of a listed species, and that the FWS rule was not entitled to Chevron deference, because the plain meaning of the statute is silent and/or ambiguous as to the particular issue at hand and there is no permissible agency construction to which the Court could defer.   Lastly, the Court found that vacatur of the FWS Rule prior to remand was appropriate, because of the FWS’ failure to explain how its interpretation of the ESA comported with the policy objectives of the ESA, and because vacatur would result in very little to no confusion or inefficiency.
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) authorized several states to kill California sea lions under section 120 of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which allows the intentional lethal taking of individually identifiable pinnipeds. Plaintiffs filed action for declaratory and injunctive relief against Defendants. The Court held that NMFS 1) did not adequately explain its finding that sea lions were having a “significant negative impact” on the decline or recovery of listed salmonid populations; and 2) NMFS did not adequately explain why a California sea lion predation rate of 1 percent would have a significant negative impact on the decline or recovery of these salmonid populations. Therefore, the agency's action was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” under the Administrative Procedure Act.

  • This case was brought the Humane Society of the United States and various coalitions of homeowner/citizens against the United States Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent the implementation of defendants' decision to permit limited public deer hunting on a national wildlife refuge in Fairfax County, Virginia. On cross motions for final judgment on the record, the District Court held that the suit under Endangered Species Act was precluded by failure to give proper presuit notice. The court stated that the ESA clearly states that “written notice” of the violation must be given to the Secretary and to the violator as a condition precedent to suit. The court also found that the FWS's decision took account of relevant factors and thus was not arbitrary or capricious.

  • In this New York case, the petitioners, various organizations and individuals generally opposed to the production of foie gras (a product derived from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese who were force fed prior to slaughter) submitted a petition to respondent Department of Agriculture and Markets seeking a declaration that foie gras is an adulterated food product within the meaning of Agriculture and Markets Law §§ 200. The respondent Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets refused to issue a statement to the requested declaration. On review to this court, petitioners sought a judicial pronouncement that foie gras is an adulterated food product. This court held that petitioners lacked standing because they did not suffer an injury within the zone of interests protected by State Administrative Procedure Act §§ 204.

  • The applicant, an incorporated public interest organisation, sought an injunction to restrain the respondent Japanese company which owned several ocean vessels engaged in, and likely to further engage in, whaling activities in waters claimed by Australia. It was found that the applicant had standing to bring the injunction and the respondent engaged in activities prohibited by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). Orders were entered against against the respondent even though it had no assets in Australia and the likelihood of being able to enforce judgment was very low.

  • The Humane Society submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. One was for site-inspection reports and the other was for inspection records for specific animal dealers and exhibitors. The Service released nine pages of inspection records in full but redacted information from the other 127 pages citing FOIA exemptions 6 and 7 that deal with privacy concerns. The Humane Society alleged that the redactions were improper and both parties filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. The Court found that the bulk of the Service’s redactions were improper under exemption 6 because the information did not implicate a licensee’s personal privacy interests. Exemption 6 was meant to protect individuals from public disclosure of intimate details of their lives. Details about a business’ compliance with regulations and statutes does not relate to intimate personal details. It only relates to business activities. Information about business judgments and relationships do not qualify for redaction. However, a substantial privacy interest is anything greater than a de minimus privacy interest and the licensees and third-parties had more than a de minimus privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information. The licensees were also homestead businesses meaning that the location of their business also served as their residence. The Court weighed the privacy interest in non-disclosure against the public interest in the release of the records and ultimately found that although the licensees and third parties had a substantial privacy interest in their names, addresses, and contact information, they only had a de minimus privacy interest in the other information that they withheld from the reports. If no significant privacy interest is implicated, FOIA demands disclosure. The service was required to disclose all reasonably segregable portions of the records that do not include identifying information. The Court found the Humane Society’s argument unpersuasive that releasing the addresses of the licensees would serve the public interest. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and names of third-party veterinarians. Exemption 7 allows for agencies to withhold information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of those law enforcement records could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Humane Society argued that inspection reports are not compiled for law enforcement purposes because the existence of such a report does not, on its face, reveal that there is any particular enforcement or investigatory action occurring. The Court found that the inspection records relate to the Service’s responsibility to enforce the AWA and ensure that licensees are in compliance, therefore, there was a nexus between the reports and the Service’s law enforcement duties. The Court also conducted the same balancing test that they did with exemption 6 and held that the Service releasing information other than the licensees’ addresses and third parties’ names could not reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Service properly withheld the licensees’ addresses and contact information and despite the Service’s improper withholding of dates, inspection narratives, animal inventories, etc., the Court found that they had otherwise met their burden of releasing all reasonably segregable information. Both the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment were granted in part and denied in part.
  • The Humane Society of the United States sued to overturn the United States Fish and Wildlife Service's 2012 Final Rule to delist the Great Lakes gray wolves from the endangered species list. The US District Court called the 2012 Final Rule "arbitrary and capricious" under the Administrative Procedure Act and in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The District Court thus relisted the wolves and placed them back under the control of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
  • Environmental and wildlife organizations brought challenge under the Endangered Species Act [ESA] against a final rule promulgated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS] designating the Western Great Lakes distinct population segment of gray wolves and simultaneously delisting it from the ESA.  The court vacated and remanded the Rule to the Fish and Wildlife Service because the ESA was ambiguous about whether it authorized the FWS to simultaneously designate and delist a distinct population segment.  There was no Chevron deference due.

  • In this case, plaintiffs alleged that by creating a fee-for-service ante-mortem horse slaughter inspection system without first conducting any environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), has violated NEPA and the Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ's) implementing regulations, abused its discretion, and acted arbitrarily and capriciously in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). At the time Plaintiffs filed their Complaint, horses were slaughtered at three different foreign-owned facilities in the United States to provide horse meat for human consumption abroad and for use in zoos and research facilities domestically. The instant case pertains to the web of legislation and regulations pertaining to the inspection of such horses prior to slaughter. Based on the Court's finding of a NEPA violation, the Court declared the Interim Final Rule to be in violation of the APA and NEPA, vacated the Interim Final Rule, permanently enjoined the FSIS from implementing the Interim Final Rule, and dismissed this case. This present action is defendant-intervenor Cavel International, Inc's Emergency Motion for a Stay of the Court's March 28, 2007 Order. The Court notes that as of the Court's March 28, 2007 Order, Cavel was the only facility still in operation processing horsemeat for human consumption. The Court finds that a stay of its March 28, 2007 Order would not be in the public interest, and particularly in light of Cavel's failure to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits and adequately demonstrate irreparable injury, the Court finds that a balancing of the factors enumerated above supports denying Cavel's request for a stay. 

  • The question in this case centers on whether a response from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) qualifies as a "final agency action" for purposes of judicial reviewability under the APA. At issue is the HSUS's petition to the USPS to declare a monthly periodical entitled The Feathered Warriror unmailable under the AWA. While the USPS has been broadly exempted from judicial review under the APA, there are exceptions, which include “proceedings concerning the mailability of matter." While the term "proceedings" is largely undefined in the Act, the Court held that it would not limit the term to the post hoc meaning ascribed by the USPS that limits it to only "formal" proceedings. Despite finding that the actions taken by the USPS were indeed judicially reviewable, the court remanded the matter because, after the Humane Society initiated this lawsuit, Congress amended § 2156 of the Animal Welfare Act again, further defining issue of nonmailable animal fighting material.


  • On May 13, 2011, Animal Welfare Organizations sought a declaratory judgment against the State of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Agriculture stating that Senate Bill (SB) 795 violated the Missouri Constitution by amending a bill to change its original purpose.  The trial court found the Animal Welfare Organization's cause of action was moot and granted the State and the State Department's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, in an en blanc opinion, the Missouri Supreme Court found the repeal and reenactment of § 273.327 in SB 161 rendered moot any decision as to whether SB795 was properly enacted. The lower court's decision was therefore affirmed.
  • Humane society and four state taxpayers brought action attacking government waste, requesting injunctive and declaratory relief that would bar implementation of tax exemptions for farm equipment and machinery as they applied to “battery cage” chicken coops that allegedly violated animal cruelty laws. State Board of Equalization demurred. Superior Court sustained without leave to amend the complaint and dismissed the case, which the Court of Appeal affirmed, stating that the plaintiffs did not allege a valid cause of action attacking government waste.

  • Subspecies of the taxonomic species “gray wolf” were declared endangered by the federal government between 1966 and 1976. When the numbers of the wolves started rebounding, the federal government reclassified the gray wolf from its regional listings (Mexican wolf, Texas wolf, Timber Wolf, etc.) into a single species listing divided into two groups: Minnesota gray wolves and the gray wolf. The government determined that the Minnesota gray wolf had recovered to a point of only being threatened. The gray wolf remained endangered. In 2003, the Fish and Wildlife Service (“The Service”) subdivided the gray wolf listing into an Eastern, Western, and a Southwestern segment. The Minnesota gray wolf and any gray wolf that existed in the Northeast region were included in the Eastern segment. The wolves in the Eastern and Western segments were listed as threatened by the Service rather than endangered. The wolves in the Southwestern segment were listed as endangered. In that same year, two district courts struck down the Rule’s attempted designation of those three population segments. The first one was a district court in Oregon which ruled that “by downlisting the species based solely on the viability of a small population within that segment, the Service was effectively ignoring the species’ status in its full range, as the Endangered Species Act requires.” Then a second district court in Vermont held that the Service designated and downlisted the Eastern segment of gray wolves impermissibly. Specifically, the Court stated that the Service should not have lumped the Northeast region into the Eastern region without first checking to see if there were any gray wolfs in the Northeast region. In 2007, the Service enacted a new rule which created a Western Great Lakes gray wolf population segment and at the same time removed that segment from the Endangered Species Act’s protections. A district court again vacated the rule. The Solicitor of the Department of the Interior issued a memorandum in 2008 that concluded that the Service has the statutory authority to identify a segment and then delist it. In 2009 the Service republished the 2007 rule without notice and comment. As result of this the rule was challenged and vacated after the Service acknowledged that it impermissibly enacted the rule without notice and comment. As a result of all of this, the status of the gray wolves remained in 2009 what it had been in 1978. In 2011, the Service issued a final rule that revised the boundaries of the Minnesota gray wolf population to include the wolves in all or portions of eight other states. The Service then delisted the segment. The Service used the solicitor’s opinion to back up its authority to delist the segment. The Humane Society filed suit alleging that the 2011 Rule violated both the Endangered Species Act and the APA. The District court vacated the 2011 Rule holding that the Service does not have the authority to designate a segment only to delist it. On appeal, the Court identified the main issue in this case as “whether the Endangered Species Act permits the Service to carve out of an already-listed species a distinct population segment for the purpose of delisting that segment and withdrawing it from the Act’s aegis.” The Court concluded that the Service’s interpretation of the statue allowing them to designate a distinct population segment within a listed species is reasonable. The statutory language expressly contemplates new designations and determinations that would require a revising of the listing. “The Service permissibly concluded that the Endangered Species Act allows the identification of a distinct population segment within an already-listed species, and further allows the assignment of a different conservation status to that segment if the statutory criteria for uplisting, downlisting, or delisting are met.” Although the Service had legal authority to act as it did, it did not properly assess the impact that extraction of the segment of gray wolves would have on the legal status of the remaining listed species. “[T]he Service's disregard of the remnant's status would turn that sparing segment process into a backdoor route to the de facto delisting of already-listed species, in open defiance of the Endangered Species Act's specifically enumerated requirements for delisting.” The Court found that although the Service’s interpretation of the word “range” was reasonable, the Service’s conclusion about the threat to the gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes segment was arbitrary and capricious. The service’s analysis wrongly omitted all consideration of lost historical range. The Court also held that the absence of conservation plans for gray wolves in North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, and Indiana does not render the Service’s decision to delist the Western Great Lakes gray wolves arbitrary and capricious. The Court further found no improper political influence in this case. Due to the three major short comings: (i) the Service failing to address the effect on the remnant population of carving out the Western Great Lakes segment; (ii) the Service misapplied the Service’s own discreetness and significance tests; and (iii) the Service ignored the implications of historical range loss, the Court ultimately decided that vacating the 2011 rule was appropriate and, therefore, affirmed the district court’s ruling.
  • Minnesota allowed trapping and snaring activities. Plaintiffs sued the state, arguing that this policy was causing the death of some endangered Canada lynx, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The plaintiffs and defendants had the case dismissed after they agreed that Minnesota would seek a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act, and that conservation measures would be taken for the protection of the lynx.

  • Plaintiff Humane Society Western Region (d/b/a "Happy Paws Farm") filed this lawsuit against Snohomish County alleging provisions of the county code regulating barking are unconstitutionally vague in violation of the state and federal constitutions, and that the SCC provision governing the temporary housing of animals in shelters violates its federal constitutional right to substantive due process. Plaintiff argued that the noise ordinances invite subjective evaluation resulting in arbitrary enforcement because the code contains no reference to identifiable levels of noise, only to noises that are repetitive.  The absence of identifiable levels of noise, or decibel levels, does not render the noise ordinances unconstitutionally vague. Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that this method is not easily understood by individuals of ordinary intelligence or that it fails to protect against arbitrary enforcement. This opinion was Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part by Humane Society Western Region v. Snohomish County, 357 Fed.Appx. 144 (9th Cir., 2009).

  • Animal rights protestors appealed the decision of the Supreme Court, Westchester County that permanently enjoined the protestors from engaging in protest activity that constituted a private nuisance (to wit, participating in targeted protest at the home of the plaintiff Mark L. Bibi). This court found that the protestors failed to refute the evidence from the lower court that showed the plaintiffs were entitled to a permanent injunction as a matter of law (including evidence of the appellant's federal conviction conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992). While the court did find that the appellant-protestor's incarceration did not render the appeal academic, imposition of the injunction was a reasonable and constitutional restriction on protest activity.

  •  In this Maryland case, Defendant appealed his convictions for two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and two counts of malicious destruction of property valued under $500 relating to the fatal shooting of two of his neighbor's (Randolph's) dogs. On appeal, Defendant maintains the language of the former text of 10-416(b)(3), a section of the Natural Resources Code dealing with deer hunting, renders the shooting justifiable. The Court found that Section 10-416(b)(3) is ambiguous; as such, based on the rule of lenity, the Court construed section 10-416(b)(3), with one exception, as giving persons in Washington County (prior to the 2009 amendment) a right to kill a dog pursing a deer whether or not the dog was being used for purposes of deer hunting. However, the Court found that Section 10-416 of the Natural Resources Article gave Defendant no privilege to kill a dog pursuing a turkey.

  • Plaintiff was injured by a police dog during the arrest of her husband.  Plaintiff sued under a Minnesota Statute requiring strict liability for dog injuries.  The trial court held the statute applied to police dogs, the Court of Appeals reversed, and the Supreme Court ultimately held the statute does apply to police dogs.

  • Plaintiff Heather Hyland brought this action for damages after defendants' dog, an American bulldog, trespassed onto plaintiff's property and attacked her ten year old shih tzu, causing serious injuries to the dog.  Defendants appeal the award of "repair costs" ($2,500) in excess of the dog's market value or "replacement cost" ($500).  In upholding the award, the court distinguished companion animals from other personal property, finding that market value fails to take into account the owner's relationship to the animal. 

  • Defendant was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty and one count of simple assault. The portion of the sentence depriving defendant of animals which the State failed to demonstrate were abused vacated and case remanded; judgment affirmed in all other respects because the motion to suppress was properly denied, and defendant was not prejudiced by the trial court's refusal to sever the trial.

  • After Gooding County adopted an ordinance regulating confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), cattle ranching and dairy associations brought suit challenging the constitutionality and validity of provisions within the ordinance and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.  The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the county, and the associations appealed.  The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's findings. 

  • This case involves a challenge by several organizations to the proposed move of Timmy, a lowland gorilla, from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to the Bronx Zoo in New York for the purposes of mating Timmy with female gorillas at the Bronx Zoo. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on October 25, 1991, in the Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County, and moved for a temporary restraining order.  The District Court held that the claim was preempted under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the ESA.  Further, the court held that plaintiffs had no private cause of action under the AWA. 

  • This FOIA case was brought against the National Institutes of Health ("NIH") by In Defense of Animals (“IDA”) seeking information related to approximately 260 chimpanzees located as the Alamogordo Primate Facility (“APF”) in New Mexico. Before the court now is NIH's Motion for Partial Reconsideration as to the release of records. This Court rejected NIH’s arguments that the records are not “agency records” because they belong to NIH's contractor, Charles River Laboratories, Inc. (“CRL”), a publicly held animal research company. Also, the Court was equally unconvinced that the information requested here is “essentially a blueprint of the APF facility,” and that release of such information presents a security risk to the facility. This Order was Superseded by In Defense of Animals v. National Institutes of Health , 543 F.Supp.2d 70 (D.D.C., 2008).

  • This FOIA case was brought against the National Institutes of Health ("NIH") by In Defense of Animals (“IDA”) seeking information related to approximately 260 chimpanzees located as the Alamogordo Primate Facility (“APF”) in New Mexico. Before the court now is NIH's Motion for Partial Reconsideration as to the release of records. This Court rejected NIH’s arguments that the records are not “agency records” because they belong to NIH's contractor, Charles River Laboratories, Inc. (“CRL”), a publicly held animal research company. Also, the Court was equally unconvinced that the information requested here is “essentially a blueprint of the APF facility,” and that release of such information presents a security risk to the facility.

  • A nonprofit corporation petitioned the trial court for injunctive and declaratory relief regarding fees charged by a state university primate research center for document inspection.  The circuit court dismissed the action with prejudice, reasoning it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the fee issue and, assuming jurisdiction existed, the fees were in compliance with law.  The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding the circuit court had jurisdiction to review the basis, reasonableness and amount of fees charged by the university.

  • In this case, the Plaintiffs, In Defense of Animals, Craig C. Downer, and Terri Farley, attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction that would stop the defendants, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and representatives of the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (“the Bureau”), from implementing a plan to capture or gather approximately 2,700 wild horses located in western Nevada (“gather plan”).   The plaintiffs contended that the gather plan had to be set aside pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq., because the Bureau did not have the statutory authority to carry out the gather plan, and because the plan did not comply with the terms of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (“Wild Horse Act”), 16 U.S.C. §§ 1331 et seq.   The Court denied the Plaintiffs request for an injunction.  

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