Cases

  • This Rhode Island Supreme Court case centers on a disagreement among former spouses concerning the ex-husband's visitation with their two dogs acquired during marriage. Before the Court is an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After review, the Court concluded that cause was not shown and affirmed the order of the Family Court. The couple entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) formalizing the terms of the dissolution of Diane and Paul Giarrusso's marriage and giving Diane all title and interest to the dogs and Paul twice a week visitation. The weekly visitation proceeded according to the agreement for over a year, when Diane ceased allowing Paul's visits. Paul then filed a motion for post-final judgment relief citing breach of the agreement and Diane counterclaimed. A justice of the Family Court held a hearing on the issue, where each party testified and submitted associated texts and emails. In one recounted incident, a dog was missing for some time at Paul's house. Ultimately, the dog was found to be accidentally locked in a closet. At the conclusion of the hearing, Diane argued that the justice should withdraw approval for the MSA because Paul failed to care for the dogs and showed bad faith, while Paul argued that Diane had breached the terms. The hearing justice affirmed the visitation schedule of the MSA, denied Diane's requested relief, and awarded attorney fees to Paul. On appeal here, Diane argues that the hearing justice was "clearly wrong and overlooked material evidence when she found that Paul had acted in good faith." In particular, Diane contends that the dogs are chattel and Paul failed to provide safe conditions and return them to her in an undamaged condition. The Supreme Court held, in noting that the MSA retains the characteristics of a contract, that it would not overturn the hearing justice's determination in absence of mutual mistake in the contract (the MSA). There was no mutual mistake in the MSA's visitation provision and no basis for the hearing justice to conclude that the MSA needs to be reformed. Further, this court found no evidence of bad faith on Paul's part and that the hearing justice's findings were support by the evidence. Thus, it was not inequitable to enforce the visitation term in the MSA as written. The order of the Family Court was affirmed and the matter returned to Family Court.
  • Defendant, a Native American, challenged the constitutionality of the limitation of eagle parts through the permit system to members of federally recognized tribes.  The limitation under the federal eagle permit system to federally recognized Indian tribes does not violate RFRA because the government has a compelling interest in protecting a species in demise and fulfilling pre-existing trust obligations to federally-recognized tribes in light of the limited supply of eagle parts.  For further discussion on free exercise challenges under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

  • Plaintiff was injured when she was thrown from her horse while she was riding her horse in a city field.   Plaintiff sued Defendant for her injuries because she was thrown from her horse after the horse was startled by the Defendant’s dogs, which were chasing the horse.   The Defendant claimed that she was immune from liability under Ohio’s Equine Activity Liability Act.   However, in this case of first impression, the court found that the EALA did not apply to Defendant because Plaintiff was not engaged in an “equine activity” at the time of the injury and the statute is not meant to apply to all third parties involved in an accident in which an equine was present.

  • The prospective buyer of a home was bitten by the homeowner's dog.  The prospective buyer filed a claim against the homeowners, real estate agents, real estate brokers and the real estate agency.  The State Court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

  • This is a record review case in which the Appellants, an assortment of environmental organizations, challenge six biological opinions (BiOps) issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The BiOps in question allowed for timber harvests in specified Northwest forests and also authorized incidental "takes" of the Northern spotted owl, a threatened species under the ESA.  With regard to appellants' challenge of the jeopardy analysis under the ESA, the court concluded that the jeopardy analysis conducted by the FWS in the six BiOps at issue in this case was permissible and within the agency's discretion.  However, the critical habitat analysis in the six BiOps was fatally flawed because it relied on an unlawful regulatory definition of "adverse modification."  The Court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case to the district court to grant summary judgment to the Petitioners on the critical habitat inquiry.

  • This is an appeal of a trial court's ruling in favor of a landlord finding that the tenant violated two material terms of her residential rental agreement. One of the material violations involved the keeping of a pet in violation of a no-pets policy. The facts show that the dog, "Dutchess," initially came to the tenant's apartment in 2009 with the tenant's son. While the dog never attacked another person or pet, it did display aggressive behavior, including lunging, baring her teeth, and rearing up on her hind legs. Other tenants expressed fear of Dutchess. After the son moved out in 2013, the dog stayed, and, in 2014, the landlord sent tenant a letter indicating the keeping of the dog was a violation of the lease. Two months after that notice, an informal meeting was held and tenant then claimed the dog as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. The landlord's attorney sent paperwork to effectuate this request, which the tenant said she never received. Months later, the landlord served the tenant with an eviction action to which tenant responded with a request to keep her dog as a reasonable accommodation. The request to keep a pet as a reasonable accommodation was granted shortly thereafter by landlord; however, the landlord did not approve of Dutchess as the specific animal due to concerns of behavior and hostility toward other residents. At an eviction hearing in June of 2016, the landlord's request to terminate the tenant's lease was granted by the court, which concluded that the reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal did not extend to Dutchess. On appeal, the Vermont Supreme Court noted that a request for an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation may be denied if "the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others." While there was no dispute in this case that the tenant has a disability-related need for an ESA, there was credible evidence that supported the lower court's decision that Dutchess posed a threat and/or would cause substantial physical damage to the property. This included testimony from other tenants and tenant's own statements that she might not be able to control Dutchess. The court stated: "[l]ike the trial court, we acknowledge tenant's attachment to Dutchess and her need for an emotional support animal, but the court properly weighed the evidence regarding Dutchess's aggressive behavior against landlord's concerns for the safety and wellbeing of the other residents." The court concluded that the lower court did not err in affirming landlord's denial of tenant's reasonable accommodation request.
  • Plaintiffs sought to recover property damages and damage and for mental anguish sustained when Brown allegedly shot and killed a donkey owned by the Gills.  By alleging that Brown's conduct was reckless and that they thereby suffered extreme mental anguish and trauma, the court held that the Gills have alleged facts that, if proven, could permit recovery under an intentional infliction of emotional distress cause of action. Accordingly, the court held that the district court erred by striking the Gills' claim for damages caused by mental anguish and the cause was remanded.

  • In this Georgia case, the Court of Appeals held that, on issue of first impression, an alligator farm was not a "farm" within meaning of the state statute that exempted "farm laborers" or their employers from coverage under the Workers' Compensation Act (Gill was bitten while cleaning out a pen and subsequently developed both a bone infection and salmonella). In construing the relevant statutes, the court found that in the chapter on Employment Security Law (ESL), the legislature meant that individuals who raise or tend wildlife perform "agricultural labor," but only when they do so on a "farm," which is "used for production of stock, dairy products, poultry, fruit, and fur-bearing animals." Accordingly, the court concluded that when Gill cleaned out the alligator pens, he was caring for wildlife and thus performing "agricultural labor." However, his employer, an alligator farm, was not a "farm" because alligators are "wildlife," not "[live]stock ... [or] fur-bearing animals." 

  • The Slensky's took their ill beagle to Defendant's Animal Hospital for routine vaccinations and examinations due to the dog's loose stools for four days.  X-rays of the dog were taken, and when the dog was returned to the Slensky's, where it then collapsed.  Defendant instructed them to take the dog to the emergency clinic, where it later died.  The family filed a complaint with the Nevada State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and Defendant was later convicted of gross negligence and incompetence, an ethics violation, and for using an unlicensed veterinary technician.  His license was suspended and he was placed on probation.  The Court held that Defendant:  (1) could be assessed costs of the proceeding; (2) he could not be assessed attorney's fees; (3) the Board could award expert witness fees above the statutory cap; (4) the Board failed to justify the imposition of costs for an investigator; and (5) statutes did not permit the employment of an unlicensed veterinary technician.

  • While pet sitting for Defendants Bruce and Jodi Smith, Plaintiff Josephine Gilreath was attacked and injured by the Smiths' rooster, which caused a serious infection with long-term consequences. Plaintiff Gilreath filed suit, but the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on the ground that Gilreath assumed the risk. Gilreath appealed to the Court of Appeals of Georgia. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court and reasoned that Gilreath assumed the risk of injury based on the state statutes of owners of land under OCGA § 51-3-1, as keepers of a vicious or dangerous animal under OCGA § 51-2-7, and as required by a Roswell city ordinance. The Court reasoned that at prior pet-sittings at the Defendants home, Gilreath had been warned that the rooster would attack and that a garbage can lid was useful for controlling the rooster. Second, Gilreath has not raised an issue of fact regarding whether the Smiths had superior knowledge of the risks associated with the danger. Gilreath, a professional pet sitter with at least nine years of experience, admitted that she had a responsibility to educate herself about the animals she takes care of yet she failed to do so for roosters. Third, Gilreath admitted that she chose to take the job knowing that she had been told that the rooster would attack. Gilreath also contends that the Smiths violated a Roswell city ordinance, but she failed to introduce a certified copy of the ordinance and thus failed to prove this claim.

  • In this case, Sylvia Weber filed suit against Monika Glover for injuries sustained when Weber’s daughter fell off a horse owned by a third party and boarded on Glover’s land. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Weber. Glover appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing that she was immune from liability under the Equine Activities statute. The court of appeals reviewed the issue and reversed the trial courts decision and granted summary judgment in favor of Glover. The main issue of the case whether or not Glover fell under the definition of “equine activity sponsor” provided in the act. Weber argued that Glover was not an “equine activity sponsor” because she was not participating in a public or group-based equine activity or a professional equine activity. The court of appeals disagreed with Weber’s argument and determined that noting in the plain language of the statute requires the equine activity to be public or group-based or professional to be covered under the statute. For this reason, the court of appeals found that Glover was considered a “equine activity sponsor” under the act and was therefore immune from liability.

  • Plaintiff sued American Airlines for emotional distress damages, inter alia , after his dog suffered a fatal heatstroke while being transported in the cargo hold of defendant's airliner (the temperature reached 140 degrees Fahrenheit in violation of the airline's cargo hold guidelines).  Plaintiff relied on the state case of Brousseau v. Rosenthal  and Corso v. Crawford Dog and Cat Hosp., Inc  in support of his negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.  The court observed that none of the decisions cited by plaintiff, including Corso, recognize an independent cause of action for loss of companionship, but rather, they provide a means for assessing the "intrinsic" value of the lost pet when the market value cannot be determined.  As a result, the court rejected plaintiff's claim for loss of companionship as well as pain and suffering without any prior authority that established the validity of such claims. 

  • Joel and Kim Goldberger owned residential rental property in Flagstaff that was insured by State Farm Fire and Casualty Company under a rental dwelling policy. The Goldbergers filed a claim asserting that their tenant allowed feral cats to access the property and cause approximately $75,000 in “accidental damage.” State farm subsequently denied the claim asserting that feral cats are domestic animals and therefore the damage was not covered under the policy. The Goldbergers filed suit alleging breach of contract and insurance bad faith. State Farm moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. State Farm claimed that the policy stated that accidental losses caused by “birds, vermin, rodents, insects, or domestic animals” were not covered by the policy. The superior court granted State Farm’s motion and this appeal followed. The Goldbergers argued that the superior court erred in dismissing their complaint due to the fact that the term “domestic animals” is reasonably susceptible to differing interpretations and must be construed against State Farm. State Farm argued that the exclusion in the policy was only susceptible to one reasonable interpretation. The Court stated that there were two interpretations to the term “domestic animal.” The first definition is a species-based definition that says that domestic animals are animals belonging to a broader class of animals that have been domesticated at some point in history. The second definition is an individualized definition that says that domestic animals are animals that are kept by a person for any of various purposes, including as pets. The Court ultimately decided that the individualized definition makes more sense in terms of the insurance policy itself as well as case law. In making this determination, the court noted the "nonsensical" outcome that would arise for exotic or nontraditional pets were a species-based definition adopted. Domestic animals encompass animals that are subject to the care, custody, and control of a person. On the facts alleged in the complaint alone, the Court could not say that the tenant was keeping the feral cats in such a manner that the exclusion would preclude coverage. The court therefore resolved all reasonable inferences in the Goldberger’s favor and presumed that the cats were feral. Because the feral cats that caused the damage are not domestic animals under all reasonable interpretations of the facts alleged in the complaint, the court erred in granting the insurer's motion to dismiss. The Court reversed the superior court’s order dismissing the Goldberger’s complaint and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.
  • This Louisiana case concerns an action for personal injuries sustained by an animal control officer who was mauled about the head and neck by defendants' dog while investigating a complaint of an attack by the dog from the previous day. The dog's owners argued on appeal that the trial court failed to apply the Professional Rescuer's Doctrine, sometimes referred to as the “fireman's rule." Because under the facts here, where the dog had previously escaped after being confined in the house and the defendants failed to properly lock the house and/or restrain the dog, the court did not find that Ms. Gonzales' recovery for injuries was barred by the Professional Rescuer's Doctrine. The court held that based upon the record before this court, there was no error on the part of the trial court that warranted reversal of the plaintiff's motion for a partial summary judgment as to the liability of the dog's owners.

  • Veterinarian contacted State Police after allegedly observing deplorable conditions in Plaintiff's barn. The premises were subsequently searched, and a horse and three dogs were removed and later adopted. Plaintiff commenced an action in City Court for, inter alia, replevin, and several defendants asserted counterclaims based on Lien Law § 183. The Lockport City Court entered partial summary judgment in favor of owner and ordered return of animals. On appeal, the Niagara County Court, reversed and remanded. Owner appealed to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York. The Court found the Niagara County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. (SPCA) was not required to bring a forfeiture action to divest Plaintiff of ownership of the seized animals because the animals were kept in unhealthful or unsanitary surroundings, the plaintiff was not properly caring for them, and the plaintiff failed to redeem the animals within five days before the SPCA was authorized to make the animals available for adoption. The city court’s order was affirmed as modified.
  • Plaintiff acquired an indoor/outdoor cat with an unknown medical and vaccination history. Plaintiff took cat to defendant for treatment and the cat received a vaccination. The cat soon developed a golf-ball-sized mass that contained a quarter-sized ulceration which was draining “matter” on the cat's right rear leg. When plaintiff returned the cat to the defendant, defendant diagnosed the cat with an infection, prescribed an antibiotic for treatment, and instructed Gonzalez to return if the cat's symptoms did not improve. When the cat's symptoms did not improve, plaintiff took the cat to another veterinarian who diagnosed the cat with vaccine-associated sarcoma. The cat had to be eventually euthanized. Acting pro se, the plaintiff filed suit, alleging that defendant failed to: (1) inform her of vaccine-associated sarcoma risk; (2) adhere to feline vaccination protocols; and (3) properly diagnose vaccine-associated sarcoma in the cat, which resulted in the loss of her life. On appeal, plaintiff asserted that the trial court erred by granting defendant's no-evidence and traditional motions for summary judgment. After examining the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff and disregarding all contrary evidence and inferences, the court concluded that the plaintiff brought forth more than a scintilla of probative evidence establishing the relevant standard of care to prove her malpractice claims. The trial court, therefore, erred by granting the no-evidence summary judgment. On the traditional summary judgment claim, the court held that that the defendant's evidence did not conclusively prove that a veterinarian complied with the applicable standard of care in light of another veterinarian's report to the contrary. The trial court, therefore, erred by granting defendant's traditional motion for summary judgment. The case was reversed and remanded.
  • This Vermont case answered whether noneconomic damages are available when a companion animal dies due to negligent acts of veterinarians and a pharmaceutical company, and also whether a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) is allowed for the death of a pet. The Vermont Supreme Court answered both questions in the negative. Plaintiffs' cats died after taking hypertension pills produced by defendant pharmaceutical company Vetpharm, which contained a toxic level of the medication (20 times the labeled dose). After the cats were brought into defendant-veterinarians' office, plaintiff contends that defendant veterinarians negligently or wantonly failed to diagnose the toxicity in the cats, and improperly treated the cats as a result. While the plaintiffs and amici urged the court to adopt a special exception to recover noneconomic damages for the loss of their personal property (to wit, the cats), the court found that to be a role more suited to the state legislature. With regard to the NIED claim, the court held that plaintiffs were never in the "zone of danger" necessary to establish a claim.

  • The issue of county versus local control over livestock regulations came to a head when the Iowa Supreme Court invalidated a series of ordinances that had been enacted by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to add additional regulations to the livestock industry and to address problems created by confined animal feeding operations in the county. The court ruled that the ordinances were inconsistent with state law and invalid under the doctrine of implied preemption. 

  • Plaintiff brought her dog into a store. The dog fought with the store owner's cat. After the fight was over, and the animals were calm, plaintiff reached down and grabbed the cat's front paw. The cat scratched and bit plaintiff, who brought a negligence action against the store owner. The court held that plaintiff could not recover because plaintiff did not exercise due care when she interfered with a strange animal, and there was no evidence that the cat was vicious.

  • Appellants Stephen Gordon and the Diamond G Ranch, Inc. challenged the Fish and Wildlife Service's control of gray wolves introduced under the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plan near the Diamond G in the Dunoir Valley of northwestern Wyoming. Seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, they filed this action in federal district court alleging violations of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause and the regulations promulgated under the Endangered Species Act. The district court dismissed the takings claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and the ESA claims as not yet ripe for review. This court affirmed the lower court.

  • After leaving a sliding glass door open for her service dog and her neighbor's dog, the plaintiff in this case was mauled by two pit bulls. Plaintiff sued the dogs' owners under a strict liability statute and the county for negligently responding to prior complaints about the dogs. At trial, a jury not only found all defendants guilty, but also found the plaintiff contributorily negligent.  Upon appeal, the court affirmed the judgment the lower court entered based on the jury verdict.  Chief Judge Worswick concurred in part and dissented in part.

  • The court held that the adoption of a dog from an animal shelter was invalid unless the dog was found in "the city" pursuant to the shelter's contract with the local government.

  • The State allows for two methods of protecting animals from cruelty: through criminal prosecution under the Penal Code or through civil remedy under the Health & Safety Code.

  • Mr Gray appealed against the police seizure of 115 horses from his horse trading premises, pursuant to section 18 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Gray had been convicted of numerous counts of cruelty, specifically under sections 4 and 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Mr Gray argued that an offence under sections 4 and 9 required either actual knowledge or a form of constructive knowledge that the animal was showing signs of unnecessary suffering, and that negligence was not sufficient. It was held that the plain effect of section 4(1) of the Act is to impose criminal liability for unnecessary suffering caused to an animal either by an act or omission which the person responsible knew would, or was likely to, cause unnecessary suffering, or by a negligent act or omission. Further, it was held that section 9(1) of the Act sets a purely objective standard of care which a person responsible for an animal is required to provide.
  • A German Shepherd dog owned by the appellees escaped through an open garage door of the appellees' home. Animal control impounded the dog for violations of city ordinances. When the appellees did not redeem the dog, instead of being euthanized, animal control turned the dog over to a rescue society for adoption. The dog was then sterilized and micro chipped. After learning what happened, appellees made a request to transfer the dog to them. When they were refused, the appellees filed suit. The trial court ruled in favor of the appellees on their conversion cause of action and their requests for declaratory and injunctive relief, which ordered appellant to turn the dog over to the appellees. On appeal, the court held that since the appellees did not redeem the dog in compliance with city ordinances, they did not have an entitlement to the dog, which was required to establish a conversion claim. Further, since the rescue organization was a recognized city rescue partner, animal control could lawfully transfer the dog to the rescue organization. The court also held the ordinance setting forth an additional 30-day redemption period did not apply to owners. The appeals court therefore reversed the judgment of the trial court, rendered judgment that appellees take nothing, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, including an appropriate order restoring possession of the dog to appellant.
  • Coalition sued for a review of a United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) final rule to remove grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) threatened species list. The Court of Appeals held that there was no rational connection between data that showed a relationship between pine seed shortages, increased bear mortality, and decreased female reproductive success and FWS’ conclusion that whitebark pine declines were not likely to threaten grizzly bears. FWS could reasonably conclude that National Forest Plans and National Park Compendia (Plans) provided adequate regulatory mechanisms to protect grizzlies as recovered species. The portion of the District Court's ruling vacating the Final Rule was affirmed.

  • Carl Green III, owned a dog, which was seized by the Mercer County Dog Warden in Ohio because it was running at large and was not wearing a current registration tag. The Animal Protection League of Mercer County (“APL”), purchased the dog from the Mercer County Dog Warden and placed the dog up for adoption. Appellant, Lori Winner adopted the dog. Green then filed a complaint in the Municipal Court, Celina County, asserting claims for replevin and conversion. The municipal court granted replevin and ordered Winner to return the dog to Green. Winner appealed this decision in the instant action arguing that (1) Green's ownership interest was terminated by operation of law; and (2) the trial court erred by failing to find that the Mercer County Dog Warden Was an Indispensable Party to the Litigation. The Court of Appeals agreed with Winner on the first assignment of error, finding that, because replevin is a statutory remedy in Ohio, the trial court's conclusion that the dog should be returned to Green is against the manifest weight of the evidence. The trial court exercised its equitable powers to award possession to Green, and that it was "in the best interest of the dog" to return it to Green. The Court of Appeals found that the statute does not provide for this type of remedy. As to the second error, this Court overruled Winner's claim, finding that there was no claim raised that the Mercer County Dog Warden wrongfully sold the dog to the APL. Thus, the dog warden had no interest in the action and the trial court did not err by failing to join the warden as a party. The judgment was reversed and remanded.
  • Plaintiffs were tenants of a county housing authority and alleged that the housing authority violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, by failing to reasonably accommodate their request for a waiver of a "no pets" policy to allow for a hearing assistance animal in the rental unit to reasonably accommodate a hearing disability. The housing authority argued that the dog was not a reasonable accommodation for the tenant's specific disability because the dog was not certified as a hearing assistance animal. The court granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, holding that the housing authority violated the federal statutes when it required proof from the tenants that the dog had received hearing assistance training.  

  • In this Oregon case, defendant appeals a judgment of $700 in damages obtained against him after he shot plaintiff’s dog. The dog had gone onto to defendant’s property and was chasing his chickens. On appeal, the Supreme Court found that because it was a general verdict, there was no way to determine a basis for the jury’s verdict; specifically, whether erroneous instructions on exemplary damages and the proper measure of damages influenced the verdict. Because the Court had the whole record before it (and in the interest of “harmony between neighbors”), the Court fixed the damages at the true market value of the dog ($250).

  • While completely disoriented at a hospital, the plaintiff was asked by deputies to sign a form releasing his two yellow labs to animal control in the event of the plaintiff's demise. The plaintiff was allegedly informed that if he did not die, he could retrieve his dogs in 7 to 10 days; he therefore signed the form without reading the terms. Later, the nurse informed him that his dogs had been euthanized and plaintiff filed suit. The trial court granted all of the defendants' motions for summary judgment, so the plaintiff appealed. The appellate court found an issue of material fact existed towards all defendants and therefore concluded that the trial court erred in granting all motions for summary judgment.

  • While completely disoriented at a hospital, the plaintiff was asked by deputies to sign a form releasing his two yellow labs to animal control in the event of the plaintiff's demise. The plaintiff was allegedly informed that if he did not die, he could retrieve his dogs in 7 to 10 days; he therefore signed the form without reading the terms. Later, the nurse informed him that his dogs had been euthanized and plaintiff filed suit. The trial court granted all of the defendants' motions for summary judgment, so the plaintiff appealed. The appellate court found an issue of material fact existed towards all defendants and therefore concluded that the trial court erred in granting all motions for summary judgment. This opinion was vacated and superseded by Greenway v. Northside Hosp., Inc., 730 S.E.2d 742 (Ga. App. 2012) .

  • In this case, the plaintiff’s dog was shot by a police officer who was responding to the plaintiff’s call for police assistance in investigating a bank fraud matter. Upon arrival at the home, the officer entered the low-fenced front yard and two of the plaintiff’s dogs approached. The officer, the only eyewitness to the encounter, then shot and killed one of the plaintiff’s dogs. The plaintiff filed suit against the officer and municipality, and alleged, inter alia, violations of her Fourth Amendment rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of state statutes. The court held that enough factual issues were disputed to deny the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, specifically that there was a genuine dispute as to whether the killing of the dog was reasonable.
  • Cattle breeders sued veterinarian who negligently vaccinated two cows leading to slaughter of one and quarantine of the herd was quarantined. The Court of Appeals held that breeders: (1) could not recover lost profits from unborn and future unborn calves; (2) could not recover damages for injury to business reputation; (3) could not recover for default in payment of financial obligations or collection procedures brought against them; (4) were properly allowed to present evidence as to the loss of net profits as result of cancellation of spring production sale and subsequent delay in selling animals; and (5) interest expense was not a variable cost for purposes of action.

  • This suit was filed after Grey and Johansson entered into a disagreement about who was the rightful owner of Johansson’s late wife’s horse, Navy. Grey was Johansson’s lawyer and was left responsible for caring for and handling all sales regarding her horses after her death. Grey filed suit for fraud and defamation against Johansson after he publicly referred to Grey as a “horse stealer.” Ultimately, the court held that Grey did not produce enough to evidence to establish a case for either fraud or defamation against Johanasson. Although Johanasson did call Grey a “horse stealer,” the court found that this comment was protected by judicial privilege.
  • Defendant was indicted under Ga. Penal Code § 703, which prohibited one from instigating, engaging in, or doing anything furtherance of the an act or cruelty to a domestic animal. Ga. Penal Code § 705 defined cruelty as every willful act, omission or neglect, whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused or permitted. The court affirmed the conviction, finding that the law provided that a domestic animal, such as a horse, should be sheltered and cared for by his owner. The jury was authorized to find that the defendant willfully abandoned the horse by turning the horse out to the elements, and failing to feed, shelter, or care for the animal. Such conduct was "willful." The court affirmed the judgment of the superior court on the jury's conviction of defendant for cruelty to animals.

  • The Defendant was charged under the Arkansas cruelty to animal statute for the killing of a hog that had tresspass into his field.  The Defendant was found guilty and appealed.  The Supreme Court found that the lower court commited error by instructing the jury that all killing is needless.  The Court reveresed the judgment and remanded it for further consideration.

  • In this Missouri case, the defendant-farmer appeals an award of $12,250 to plaintiff-motorist, whose vehicle was struck by another vehicle after a horse coming from defendant's farm collided with the first vehicle. Defendant asserts that the Stock Law (Section 270.010) was inappropriately applied to him where he did not own the livestock (the horse) in question. Since plaintiff relied on the language of the Stock Law, which unambiguously refers only to "owners," in submitting her verdict directing instruction that allowed her to recover damages without proof of Defendant's negligence, the case must be reversed and remanded. This cause was Ordered Transferred to Mo.S.Ct. November 16, 2010.

  • An eleven-year-old boy was at a YMCA camp when a pig—which had never injured anyone or exhibited any dangerous propensities—stuck its head between the bars of its pen and grabbed the boy's hand, causing injuries. The boy and his mother sued the camp, and the camp filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the camp. On appeal, the boy and his mother asked the court to change the standard for liability of owners of domestic animals to that of strict liability when the animal was not a cat or dog. Since the Indiana Supreme Court precedent was clear that this general rule applied to all domestic animals—and not just cats and dogs—the court declined their invitation to alter the standard. The trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of the camp was therefore affirmed.
  • Plaintiffs sued the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and its related entities on the grounds that they failed to comply with environmental and regulatory procedures in the administration and implementation of a federal export program that allows certain animal pelts and parts to be exported from the United States pursuant to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (“CITES”). Defendant-Intervenors intervened, and now seek to dismiss this action pursuant to Rules 12(b)(7) and 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the grounds that the Plaintiffs have not joined and cannot join as indispensable parties certain states and Native American tribes. The court held that because the states and tribes are not “required” under Rule 19(a), dismissal is not appropriate. Accordingly, the court ordered that that Defendant-Intervenors' motion be DENIED.
  • Appellants sought review of a denial of a special-use permit to build a large campground adjacent to a bald eagle nesting site.  They contended that the denial by the county board was arbitrary and capricious.  The court held that the denial was reasonable where the county proffered two legally valid reasons for denying the permit:  the danger to the sensitive nesting eagle population and the detrimental effect the increased human activity would have on the unspoiled nature of the property.

  • In this case, plaintiff filed suit challenging the California Penal Code, specifically sections 653o and 653r. Plaintiff manufactured boots from the hides of animals, including the hides of the African elephant, the Indonesian python, and the Wallaby kangaroo. Section 653o and 653r of the California Penal Code prevented plaintiff from selling his boots in California because the provisions forbid the sale of products made from dead bodies, or any part of the elephant, python, or kangaroo. Plaintiff challenged these provisions arguing that the provisions were preempted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, thus making the provisions unconstitutional. The plaintiff also argued that the provisions were unconstitutional because of the burden placed on interstate commerce which violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, the court held that the provisions of the California Penal Code were not unconstitutional and dismissed plaintiff’s claim. The court looked to whether or not the provisions were expressly or impliedly preempted and determined that because the provisions were not expressly preempted the court needed to do an analysis of implied preemption. Looking to legislative history, the court found that Congress did not intend to preempt the provisions of the California Penal Code with the enactment of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Lastly, the court held that the California statue was not a burden on interstate commerce because Congress was aware of the existence of the California provisions and decided that the Endangered Species Act would not affect the California provisions. As a result, the court dismissed plaintiff’s claim and held for the defendant.
  • The U.S. Claims Court upheld its jurisdiction over an action brought by individuals who had their Private Maintenance and Care Agreements (PMCA) revoked by the Bureau of Land Management and their adopted wild horses repossessed when the agency learned that the individuals intended to sell the horses to slaughter once they obtained full legal title to them under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.  The court found that the PMCA agreement constituted a contract between the government and the adopter, and thus that the Claims Court had jurisdiction to hear the case. Though the court noted that individual adopters would have to overcome the suggestion that they violated the terms of the PMCA by intending to sell the horses to slaughter.   

  • Prior to October 2010, the North Piceance Herd Area served as a home to approximately 60 wild horses. The horses, however, were removed by the BLM, giving rise to this litigation. Plaintiffs assert that the BLM’s decision to remove the wild horses violates the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, NEPA, the Information Quality Act, and the FLPMA. The District Court concluded that, while Plaintiffs did establish irreparable harm, they were not likely to succeed on the merits.

  • Two Irish setters knocked down a neighbor while playing outside.   Previously no one had seen them run into anyone while playing.   They were not shown to have been more boisterous than dogs usually are.   There was no evidence that these dogs were vicious. The court found that there was no foreseeable risk of harm and therefore no duty upon which to base a claim of negligence.

  • This is an owner's appeal of the city order which ordered her dog be euthanized or banished from city limits because the dog bit a person without provocation. The order had been affirmed by the superior court and is now in front of the state Supreme Court. Haggblom argues that the ordinance is unconstitutional because it does not provide meaningful process, and is too vague because it does not explicitly offer the alternative of banishment from city limits. This court found that due process was satisfied and that the ordinance is constitutionally clear, and thus affirms the order.
  • A dog was impounded and adopted after being picked up by animal control officers.  The owners of the dog brought suit over the adoption of their dog.  The trial court dismissed the suit and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding the dog's owners failed to state a claim.

  • Louisiana appeals court affirmed trial court's finding that plaintiff failed to adequately link her stomach ailment with a burger purchased from Burger King and thus could not sustain an action that sought recovery of alleged damages suffering due to food poisoning.

  • The custody of an eleven year old German wirehaired pointer was the central issue in this Vermont divorce case. While both parties testified to their strong emotional ties to the dog and to the care that each spouse provided, the Superior Court awarded custody to the husband. The wife appealed the Superior Court’s decision arguing that the court erred in refusing a joint arrangement, that the court’s finding was not supported by the evidence, and that this finding provided an arbitrary basis for award. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Vermont held that the family court division could consider factors not set out in 15 V.S.A. § 751(b); specifically, the welfare of the animal and the emotional connection between the animal and each spouse. The court found that both parties were afforded an opportunity to put on evidence regarding both factors without restriction in the Superior Court. The Supreme Court of Vermont also held that the Superior Court was correct in its statement that the family division could not enforce a visitation or shared custody order for companion animals. Unlike child custody matters, the court said, there is no legislative authority for the court to play a continuing role in the supervision of the parties with respect to the care and sharing of a companion animal. The Superior Court’s decision of awarding custody to the husband was therefore affirmed.
  • In this Florida case, the 82-year-old defendant was convicted of a third-degree felony animal cruelty violation (section 828.12(2)) and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Defendant had his dog on leash and approached too close to a cat, whereupon the leashed dog began to attack the cat. In reversing the decision, the appellate court found that defendant's conduct did not rise to a criminal level, as it was "objectively unlikely" that a leashed dog walking with his owner would inflict such damage. Further, while the issue of sentencing was rendered moot by the reversal, the court found the consideration of a petition with approximately 3,000 signatures demanding the maximum sentence, "an affront to the very notion of due process of law . . ."

  • Plaintiff was walking her dog in an area of state where dogs go off-leash. Plaintiff and defendant were back in the parking lot talking when defendant's dog, who was still off-leash, ran into her, causing her to fall and sustain injuries. The appellate court found that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to meet the burden establishing that the dog had a proclivity to run into people and knock them over. While testimony showed that the dog (Quinn) routinely ran up to people and put his paws on their chest to "greet" them, this was different than a propensity to knock people down. The court found that the behavior of jumping on people "was not the behavior that resulted in plaintiff's injury, and plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that defendant had notice of a proclivity by Quinn to run into people and knock them over. . ." The court also noted that the dog's rambunctious behavior, occurring at a dog park where dogs freely run around, was insufficient to establish vicious propensities. Summary judgment for the defendants was affirmed.

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