Cases

  • In 2007, the plaintiff and defendant were walking their respective dogs when one of defendant's two dogs, a retired K-9 dog, attacked the plaintiff's dog. Plaintiff sued defendant for damages she received as a result. While each dog did received "handler protection" training (where a K-9 dog is trained to react to an aggressive attack on defendant while on duty), that situation had never arisen because the dogs acted in passive roles as explosive detection dogs. Plaintiff countered that the severity of the attack coupled with the dogs' breed and formal police training should have put defendant on notice of the dogs' vicious propensities. In affirming the summary judgment, this court found that the formal police training was not evidence of viciousness and there was no support to plaintiff's assertion that defendant kept the dogs as "guard dogs."

  • This action of trespass is brought for the recovery of damages for the killing of the fox hound of plaintiff by defendant.  Defendant claimed that he shot and killed the plaintiff's dog while it was chasing and worrying a cat belonging to and upon the land of the defendant. After the introduction of all the evidence, the court ordered a verdict for defendant. To this direction, plaintiff filed his bill of exceptions in which it is stipulated that if a cat is a domestic animal, the ruling below is to stand, otherwise judgment is to be entered for plaintiff in the sum of $50.
  • In this New York case, the defendant appeals denial of its motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed an action to recover damages for personal injuries after the dog she adopted from defendant-North Shore Animal League America bit plaintiff's face causing severe personal injuries. Plaintiff alleges causes of action that include negligence, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and interposed a claim for punitive damages. After defendant opposed the filing, plaintiff submitted evidence that the dog previously had been returned to defendant animal shelter after biting another individual in the face. This court noted that, under long-standing rule, the owner of a domestic animal who knew or should have known of the animal's vicious propensities is liable for harm. However, here, even if defendant failed to disclose the dog's vicious propensities, that breach was not the proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries. In fact, the dog showed aggressive behavior during the three-and-a-half months the plaintiff owned the dog (including a previous bite to plaintiff's hand). This, in effect, placed the plaintiff on notice of the dog's vicious propensities. The court found that the lower court erred by not granting defendant's motion for summary judgment. With regard to the reach of the implied warranty of merchantability, the court found that even if a transaction from an animal shelter is subject to the warranty, the plaintiff failed to notify defendant of the "nonconformity of the goods" (to wit, the dog) within a reasonable period of time. The order was reversed.

  • In May 2012, Tighe adopted a dog from the North Shore Animal League after having been warned that the dog was possessive regarding food. After taking the dog home, Tighe noticed that the dog exhibited aggressive behavior, such as jumping at the backyard fence and growling at her when she attempted to feed the dog. In July of 2012, the dog bit Tighe’s hand when she tried to pick up a cookie off of the floor. As a result, Tighe spent three days in the hospital due to severe blood loss and swelling. Additionally, in September of 2012, the dog bit Tighe in the face causing severe injuries. After the incident in September, Tighe filed suit against the North Shore Animal League to recover damages for negligence, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court dismissed the claim of emotional distress but granted summary judgment in favor of Tighe with regard to the other claims of negligence. The North Shore Animal League appealed the lower court’s decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of New York overturned the lower court’s decision and granted summary judgment in favor of the North Shore Animal League on all claims. The court found that the North Shore Animal League was not a proximate cause to Tighe’s injuries for failing to adequately warn her about the dog’s aggreesive behavior because Tighe learned of the dog’s aggressive behavior three months prior to the incident that caused Tighe’s injuries. According to the court, once Tighe learned of the dog’s aggressive tendencies, she was in the best position to take “precautionary measures to prevent harm to herself.” So, even if the North Shore Animal League had failed to warn Tighe of the dog’s aggressive tendencies prior to the adoption, Tighe “independently” learned of the dog’s aggressive behavior prior to the incident which eliminated the North Shore Animal League as being a proximate cause of her injuries.
  • Cruelty conviction of defendant who shot and killed two domesticated dogs. Defendant knew dogs were domesticated because they lived nearby, had demeanor of pets, both wore collars, and had been previously seen by defendant.

  • Plaintiffs sued aquarium for declaratory and injunctive relief seeking a declaration that wild-captured orcas were being held in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition on slavery and involuntary servitude. The court dismissed the action, holding that Plaintiffs had no standing because the Thirteenth Amendment only applies to humans, and therefore, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

  • Defendant argued that being in "possession" of neglected, suffering animals was not a crime. The court held that where a veterinarian testified that the horses were anemic and malnourished and where defendant testified that he had not purchased enough to feed them, the evidence was sufficient to authorize the jury to find defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of seven counts of cruelty to animals. The court held the trial court did not err in admitting a videotape depicting the horses' condition and that of the pasture when the horses were seized, where the videotape was relevant to the jury's consideration.

  • In this case, plaintiff (proceeding pro se) filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) challenging its management of wild horses on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range (PMWHR). Plaintiff filed suit challenging BLM’s fertility control and gather programs. BLM argued that plaintiff’s claims should be denied as a matter of summary judgment. The court ultimately held that plaintiff failed to provide any “legal authority” or “jurisdictional basis” for the remedies in which she was seeking. The court held that BLM was within its own authority to rely on its own data and surveys of its programs and was under no obligation to review its programs based on plaintiff’s alleged observations. Finally, the court held in favor of BLM as a matter of summary judgment.
  • In this New York case, plaintiff, an experienced recreational horse rider, was bitten by a horse she intended to use to practice her techniques at defendant's stable. The rider then  brought a negligence action against owners of horse that bit her on the shoulder. In affirming the lower court's granting of summary judgment, the appellate court found that rider's injury occurred in the context of her participation in the recreational sporting activity of horseback riding, for purposes of primary assumption of the risk principles. She was aware of the inherent risks in sporting events involving horses, had an appreciation of the nature of the risks, and voluntarily assumed those risks.

  • In this Ohio case, the defendant, who owned three pit bull type dogs, was convicted in the Municipal Court, Lucas County, of violating the Toledo city ordinance that limited ownership to only one pit bull per household. On appeal by the City, the Supreme Court found the state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens against unsafe conditions caused by pit bulls. The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that pit bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens. The statutes and the city ordinance are rationally related to serve the legitimate interests of protecting Ohio and Toledo citizens.

  • Reversed - 871 N.E.2d 1152 (Ohio, 2007). In this Ohio case, defendant, who owned three pit bull type dogs, was convicted in the Municipal Court of violating city ordinance limiting ownership to only one pit bull per household, and of violating statute requiring owner of a "vicious dog" to provide liability insurance.  On appeal, the court held that the statute requiring an owner of a pit bull to provide liability insurance was unconstitutional.  Further, the statute, which provides that the ownership of a pit bull is prima facie evidence of the ownership of a vicious dog, was unconstitutional because after hearing evidence the trial court found that pit bulls as a breed are not inherently dangerous.  Thus, the court held that R.C. 955.11(A)(4)(a)(iii) is unconstitutional, since it has no real and substantial relationship to a legitimate state interest. 

  • Plaintiffs were in the business of selling animals to research facilities. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that they had committed hundreds of violations of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131 et seq. The ALH then imposed what was, to that point, the harshest sanction, $200,000, in the history of the Act. The Judicial Officer affirmed the ALJ's findings and denied the Plaintiffs' request to reopen the hearing for consideration of new evidence. While the 8th Circuit affirmed most of these findings, it held that the evidence did not support all of them. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter to the Department for redetermination of the sanction. The court also affirmed the Judicial Officer's refusal to reopen the hearing and denied the Plaintiffs' Request for Leave to Adduce Additional Evidence. The Plaintiffs were free, however, to seek leave to offer this additional evidence on remand to the extent it was relevant to the sanction.
  • The respondent pleaded guilty to bashing several cats with an iron bar causing four deaths. The dead cats, along with one severely beaten but still alive kitten, were placed in a bag and disposed of in a charity clothing bin. On appeal, it was held that the trial judge failed to have sufficient regard to the callous nature of the respondent's actions and the respondent was sentenced to three months' imprisonment.

  • Plaintiffs seized approximately 65 dogs from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Connecticut pursuant to a search and seizure warrant that had been issued on facts showing that the dogs, which were being kept in an uninsulated barn with an average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, were neglected, in violation of General Statutes § 22–329a. The trial court found that the smaller breed dogs were neglected, but found that larger breed dogs were not. On an appeal by plaintiffs and a cross appeal by defendants, the appeals court found: (1) the trial court applied the correct legal standards and properly determined that the smaller breed dogs were neglected and that the larger breed dogs were not neglected, even though all dogs were kept in a barn with an average temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit; (2) § 22–329a was not unconstitutionally vague because a person of ordinary intelligence would know that keeping smaller breed dogs in an uninsulated space with an interior temperature of approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit would constitute neglect; (3) the trial court did not err in declining to admit the rebuttal testimony offered by the defendants; and (4) the trial court did not err in granting the plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief and properly transferred ownership of the smaller breed dogs to the town. The appellate court, however, reversed the judgment of the trial court only with respect to its dispositional order, which directed the parties to determine among themselves which dogs were smaller breed dogs and which dogs were larger breed dogs, and remanded the case for further proceedings, consistent with this opinion.
  • In this Maryland case, the Court of Appeals establishes a new standard of liability for a landlord who has knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull dog and also modifies the common law liability as it relates to the pit bull breed of dogs. In doing so, the Court now holds that because of the "aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflect serious and sometimes fatal injuries," pit bull dogs and cross-bred pit bulls are now categorized as "inherently dangerous." Upon a plaintiff's sufficient proof that an attacking dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix, a person who knows that the dog is of the pit bull breed, including a landlord, is strictly liable for damages caused to the plaintiff who was attacked. The case was remanded to trial court with this modification to common law. This opinion was Superseded by Tracey v. Solesky , 427 Md. 627 (Md., 2012).

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    In this Maryland case, the Court of Appeals establishes a new standard of liability for a landlord who has knowledge of the presence of a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull dog and also modifies the common law liability as it relates to the pit bull breed of dogs. In doing so, the Court now holds that because of the "aggressive and vicious nature and its capability to inflect serious and sometimes fatal injuries," pit bull dogs and cross-bred pit bulls are now categorized as "inherently dangerous." Upon a plaintiff's sufficient proof that an attacking dog is a pit bull or pit bull mix, a person who knows that the dog is of the pit bull breed, including a landlord, is strictly liable for damages caused to the plaintiff who was attacked. The case was remanded to trial court with this modification to common law.

  • In this Michigan case involving an action for damages after personal injury, the father of the dog’s owner was visiting his son's home when he agreed to supervise the dog while his son and daughter-in-law went shopping.   The n eighbor’s child was subsequently bitten by the dog, which had been put by defendant into a bedroom. This court held that the defendant, as a temporary caretaker of the dog, could not be held to the strict liability standard of an owner keeper, but could be liable under theory of negligence. Thus, a genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether the father was negligent in fulfilling his duty of care in supervising the dog, which precluded summary judgment in a negligence action.

  • In this Florida case, a tenant's next-door neighbor, who was bitten by tenant's dog when it leaped over fence and then attacked the neighbor on property not owned by landlord, brought a personal injury suit against the landlord.  The appellate court upheld a motion of summary judgment in favor of the defendant non-owner.   The court found that t he existence of a duty in a negligence action is a question to be decided as a matter of law.  Although the so-called "dog bite" statute, section 767.04, Florida Statutes (1993) controls actions against a dog's owner, actions against a non-owner must be brought upon a theory of common law liability.  Essentially, a landlord has no duty to prevent injuries to third parties caused by a tenant's dog away from leased premises.

  • In Trautman v. Day, 273 N.W. 2d 712 (N.D. 1979), defendant shot plaintiff’s dog when it ran through defendant’s herd of cows. The court affirmed a verdict of $300 for plaintiff’s dog. In addition, the Court declined to apply the defense of immunity based on a statute concerning the “worrying of livestock.

  • A short, childless marriage ended in a custody battle over a dachshund after one spouse allegedly took the dog while the other spouse was away on a business trip. After reviewing the progression of the law in New York and in other states, the court decided to apply a “best for all concerned” standard and to give the parties a full, one-day hearing. The plaintiff’s motion to order the defendant to return the couple's dog and to be awarded “sole residential custody” of the dog was therefore granted.

  • In this Indiana case, the defendant was convicted after a bench trial of cruelty to an animal and harboring a non-immunized dog. On rehearing, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to show that defendant abandoned or neglected dog left in his care, so as to support conviction for cruelty to an animal. The court held that the evidence of Butchie's starved appearance, injured leg, and frost bitten extremities was sufficient to allow the trial judge to discount Trimble's testimony and infer that Trimble was responsible for feeding and caring for Butchie, and that he failed to do so.

  • A woman fell from a horse during a riding lesson when her horse was frightened.  The woman brought claims against the riding facility and riding instructor for negligence.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants and the Court of Appeals affirmed reasoning horses becoming frightened is an inherent risk when riding.

  • In this case, the Plaintiff seeks damages from the Defendants for trespass to chattels. She alleged that the Defendants shot her valuable dog. The Defendants countered that they were justified in shooting the dog since it was on their land chasing and worrying their cattle contrary to the Stray Animals Act, R.S.A. 1980, c. S-23, Part 3. Here, the court found credible the testimony from the defendant cow-operator that the dog was chasing a lame cow to the point where the cow was exhausted. The action by plaintiff was dismissed.

  • In this case, Tuman sued the owners of her apartment complex, VL GEM LLC and GEM Management Partners LLC, after the apartment complex refused to allow her to keep an emotional support dog in her apartment to help her deal with her post-traumatic stress disorder. Truman argued that she was discriminated against after she requested a “reasonable accommodation” for her disability, in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The defendants argued that Truman failed to provide sufficient medical documentation of her need for the support dog and therefore were not liable for discrimination under the FHA. The court found that Truman was able to establish a disability under FHA by showing that her PTSD “causes her to have severe anxiety and difficulties with socialization.” The court held that this satisfied the requirement under the FHA that the disability must “substantially limit one or more major life activities.” Since Truman qualified as disabled under the FHA, the court turned to whether or not she had provided the apartment complex with sufficient documentation and notice. Ultimately, the court found that Truman had provided the apartment with sufficient documentation because she provided them with a note from her doctor stipulating that Truman needed an accommodation in order to cope with her disability. Lastly, the court found that the apartment complex knew of Truman’s disability and request for an accommodation and still refused to allow her to have a dog, which resulted in a violation under the FHA. As a result, the court found for Truman. 

  • RSPCA officers found a horse belonging to the applicant on the applicant's property and, after preparing the horse for transport, had to euthanise the animal when it collapsed. The applicant was convicted of failing to feed a horse which led to its serious disablement and eventual euthanisation. The applicant was unsuccessful on all issues on appeal and was liable for a fine of $4000 and prevention from owning 20 or more horses for five years.

  • Plaintiff horse owner appealed a judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court (Alabama) entered on a jury verdict in favor of defendant veterinarian in a malpractice action arising from the death of the owner's horse. The horse owner contended that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a new trial based on the ground that the verdict was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of the veterinarian in the malpractice action.

  • Environmental Groups sued the National Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the United States Department of Commerce for making regulations which allowed swordfish longline fishing along the Hawaii coast, alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Court found that because the regulations were made under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (Magnuson Act), and because that Act had a 30-day time limit for when challenges to regulations could be made, the environmental groups has not brought their challenge to the regulations in time.

  • The plaintiffs, In Defense of Animals and Patricia Haight brought suit against the defendants under the False Claims Act.  In 1997, defendant Michael Berens, Ph.D., submitted a grant application to the NIH in which he sought federal funding for a project to develop a canine model to study glioma, a form of human brain cancer, and attempted to create a process for implanting gliomas in the brains of beagles. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, holding that the plaintiffs failed to produce sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that the challenged grant application statements were objectively false. 

  • The plaintiffs, In Defense of Animals and Patricia Haight brought suit against the defendants, Michael Berens, the principal research investigator of the study in question, and the Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona, and Catholic Healthcare West, his employers, under the False Claims Act.  In 1997, defendant Michael Berens, Ph.D., submitted a grant application to the NIH in which he sought federal funding for a project to develop a canine model to study glioma, a form of human brain cancer, and attempted to create a process for implanting gliomas in the brains of beagles. The plaintiffs brought suit against Dr. Berens under the False Claims Act asserting that he had lied in his grant application in order to obtain NIH funding. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, holding that the plaintiffs failed to produce sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that the challenged grant application statements were objectively false.   In response, the plaintiffs filed a notice to appeal 51 days later, relying on a circuit court precedent allowing plaintiffs 60 days to file a notice of appeal in these types of cases.   However, an intervening Supreme Court decision declared that plaintiffs have only 30 days to file a notice to appeal in this type of case.   This case was amended and superseded by US ex rel Haight v. Catholic Healthcare West , 602 F.3d 949 (9th Cir., 2010).

  • The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish and Wildlife executed an administrative order preventing the issuance of bear hunting permits.  Hunters and hunting organizations sought judicial review of the administrative decision.  The Supreme Court of New Jersey ultimately held it was within the authority of the Environmental Protection Commissioner to approve policies of the Fish & Wildlife Council and, therefore, execute the administrative order against bear hunting permits.

  • Plaintiff U.S. sought to forfeit the Defendant parakeets on the ground that they were imported in violation of Peruvian law and consequently, in violation of the Lacey Act.  The court held that, if even the "innocent owner" defense was available under the Lacey Act (which the court held it is not under the forfeiture provision of the statute), the claimant importer never attempted to independently confirm or verify that the parakeet species in question (brotogeris versicolorus) could be lawfully imported from Peru.  Thus, the court held the forfeiture valid where the U.S. established by probable cause to believe the Lacey Act was violated where the testimony at trial established that Peruvian Supreme Decree No. 934-73-AG prohibits from anywhere in the national territory the exportation of wild live animals coming from the forest or jungle region. 

  • The plaintiff, the United States of America, seeks forfeiture of the defendant, 10,870 crusted sides of Caiman crocodilus yacare, an endangered species of wildlife (hides) transported from Bolivia to the U.S. in violation of the Lacey Act, among other statutes.  The court found that the testimony concerning the shrinkage of the crocodile hides during tanning did not meet the buren of the claimed owners showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the hides, which were shipped from Bolivia under the size limit imposed by Bolivian law, were not subject to the forfeiture provisions of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. § 3374(a)(1) (1985).  The provision of the Lacey Act at issue prohibits the interstate or foreign commerce of any wildlife taken in violation of any foreign law. 

  • Defendants were charged with exporting salmon from Taiwan in violation of Taiwanese regulations.  The regulations and public announcement of the Taiwan Board of Foreign Trade restricting the export of salmon from Taiwan constituted "foreign law" as that term is used in the Lacey Act, despite the fact this was embodied in regulation, not statute.  Moreover, this provision of the Lacey Act was not void for vagueness for failing to expressly state that the term "foreign law" encompassed both foreign statutes and regulations. 

  • Before the Court is the appeal of Frank J. Abbate, Jr.from a misdemeanor conviction for violating a provision of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act ("MBTA") after a Louisiana Department of Fisheries and Wildlife agent witnessed Abbate illegally taking or attempting to take wood ducks after legal shooting hours. At trial, appellant was found guilty of the offense charged and sentenced him to a two-year term of probation. As a special condition, the magistrate ordered that appellant pay a fine of $500 and refrain from hunting birds during the probationary period. Appellant petitions this Court to review his portrayal of the facts and reconsider the credibility of the witnesses and evidence in light of the arguments and allegations presented in his appellate brief. However, rules of procedure governing this appeal preclude appellant from receiving a trial de novo. Accordingly, this Court cannot consider new facts which appellant did not allege at trial and disregarded appellant's arguments which raise conflict over the weight and credibility of testimony. With regard to sentencing, the court found that the magistrate properly exercised his discretion where appellant had a prior conviction under the MBTA for illegal hunting and the revocation of his hunting license would properly prevent future MBTA violations.

  • Defendant, an Indian who resided on a reservation charged with the possession of golden eagle parts under the BGEPA, challenged the indictment as a violation of treaty rights and an unconstitutional burden on his exercise of religion.  In an unusual decision, the court found that the BGEPA placed an unconstitutional burden on defendant's exercise of religion, where the golden eagle was not threatened in New Mexico and permits to kill depredating eagles had previously been issued.  The court also held that the treaty at issue granted special religious accommodations to the tribe, thereby preserving a treaty right to harvest eagles for religious needs.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

  • Defendant was a member of a Canadian tribe when he brought eagle feathers across the border to the U.S. for a "potlatch" ceremony (exchange of eagle parts for money and goods, which was religiously significant to defendant).  On appeal, defendant challenged his conviction under the RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), arguing in part that the government lacked an asserted compelling interest where the USFWS had issued a proposed delisting of the eagle from the ESA list.  The Ninth Circuit disagreed, finding the evidentiary weight of the proposed delisting was lacking and that defendant was not discriminated against based on religion, but rather was excluded from the permit system based on the secular component of the Act (i.e., the requirement for membership in a federally-recognized tribe).

  • Appellants, Apollo Energies, Inc. and Dale Walker, were charged with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act after an agent with the USFWS discovered dead migratory birds lodged in each appellant's "heater-treater," a piece of equipment used in the course of appellants' Kansas oil drilling businesses, on several occasions. At trial, both Apollo and Walker were convicted of  misdemeanor violations for "taking" or "possessing" migratory birds. On appeal, Apollo and Walker contested that (1) the MBTA is not a strict liability crime or, (2) if it is a strict liability crime, the MBTA is unconstitutional as applied to their conduct. Bound by a previous holding that found misdemeanor violations of the MBTA are strict liability crimes, the court concluded that the MBTA includes no mens rea requirement. As to Appellants' second contention challenging the constitutionality of the Act, the court concluded that while the Act is not unconstitutionally vague, "the MBTA requires a defendant to proximately cause the statute's violation for the statute to pass constitutional muster.

  • Melville O'Neal Atkinson was convicted of twenty-one felony violations of the Lacey Act for his role in organizing and guiding several illegal hunting expeditions.  The court found sufficient evidence to sustain his conviction based on interstate commerce where, at the end of each illegal hunt, defendant arranged or assisted in arranging to ship deer carcasses to the hunters' homes outside the state. 

  • After two applications to seek compensation for South Africa were denied, the United States appealed the two orders and the 2nd Circuit held that South Africa (1) had a property interest in rock lobsters unlawfully harvested from its waters and (2) was a victim under the MVRA and VWPA. The 2nd Circuit therefore held that restitution was owed to South Africa and the case was remanded for the district court to calculate restitution.

  • On November 23, 1987, defendant, John Terrence Big Eagle, filed a motion to dismiss the indictment in this action on the grounds that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The indictment charges the defendant with violating the Lacey Act prohibitions against transporting, selling, or acquiring fish taken or possessed in violation of state law or Indian tribal law.  The court held that the fishing regulations of the Lower Bule Sioux Tribe were applicable to defendant, a Native American of another tribe, and that this subjected him to prosecution under the Lacey Act.

  • Defendant-appellants appealed their convictions following guilty pleas to offenses relating to illegal cockfighting and gambling activities. On appeal, they challenged the denial of their motion to dismiss for selective prosecution or, in the alternative, for discovery in support of their selective prosecution claim. In particular, appellants contend that district court should have dismissed the indictment or granted leave to obtain discovery because they, as Caucasians, were prosecuted federally, while two Hispanic co-conspirators and thirty-six Hispanic people arrested in connection with another cockfighting ring in Hampton County, South Carolina, faced only state charges. The Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, found that appellants failed to show that they were similarly situated to the Hispanic defendants who were not prosecuted on federal charges.

  • The Government charged Brigham Oil & Gas, L.P.with “taking” (killing) two migratory birds found dead near one of its reserve pits. But, the Court found that the use of reserve pits in commercial oil development is legal, commercially-useful activity that stands outside the reach of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Therefore, the Court held that the oil and gas companies' use of reserve pits did not violate Migratory Bird Treaty Act's prohibition against taking of protected birds, since death or injury was not intentional, and grated the defendant's motion to dismiss.
  • After defendant received a shipment of dead frogs, he was convicted of violating a portion of the Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 42(c), which made it a misdemeanor to knowingly cause or permit any wild animal to be transported to the United States under inhumane or unhealthful conditions. Defendant appealed, and judgment was reversed and remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of not guilty. The government failed to meet its burden to prove not only that the defendant knowingly caused or permitted the transportation to the United States of a wild animal, but also that the defendant knew the conditions under which the frogs was transported were "inhumane or unhealthful."

  • Ricky Bryant appeals convictions on one misdemeanor and two felony counts of purchasing illegally obtained fox pelts, violations of the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981, 16 U.S.C. § 3371-3378 (1981).  The court held that the North Carolina regulation, which unambiguously prohibited the hunting of foxes without authorization and expressly stated that dealing in untagged pelts is illegal, withstood the void for vagueness test as prosecuted under the Lacey Act.  The court further dismissed challenges based on an entrapment defense and arguments that the Lacey Act constitutes an unconstitutional delegation to the States of legislative power reserved to Congress.

  • Defendant was a commercial fisherman and conditionally pled guilty to unlawfully acquiring and transporting halibut with market value of more than $350 and knowingly intending to sell illegally taken halibut in violation of Lacey Act after he exceeded the catch limits set by the Pacific Halibut Act.  Defendant argued that the Lacey Act criminalized the same civil conduct regulated by the Halibut Act, thereby superseding that federal statute.  The court disagreed, finding that the purpose of the Lacey Act was to strengthen existing wildlife laws where the underlying law did not specify exclusive control. 

  • Defendant owned a goldfish farm and hired lethal "birdmen" to kill various birds that interfered with his operation, including herons and egrets, by means of shooting, trapping, and poisoning.  In reversing defendant's conviction under the Lacey Act, the Court disagreed with the government's position that the act of taking of the birds in violation of the Migratory Bird Treat Act also implicated the Lacey Act.  The court held that the Lacey Act requires something beyond the first taking; indeed a person must do something to wildlife that has already been "taken or possessed" in violation of law.

  • After 35 dead Brown Pelicans were discovered in the space between the inner wall of the caisson and the outer wall of a wellhead, Chevron was charged with a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. But, the Court held that the MBTA was clearly not intended to apply to commercial ventures where, occasionally, protected species might be incidentally killed as a result of totally legal and permissible activities. Therefore, at the plea hearing the Court refused to accept the plea of guilty from Chevron.
  • In 2007, CITGO was convicted of unlawfully taking and aiding and abetting the taking of migratory birds under MBTA § 707(a) after ten dead birds were found in two large open-top oil tanks. CITGO moved the Court to vacate its convictions, arguing that the MTBA criminalizes the unlawful taking or killing of migratory birds by hunting, trapping, poaching, or similar means, but does not criminalize commercial activities in which migratory birds are unintentionally killed as a result of activity completely unrelated to hunting, trapping, or poaching. In response, the Government argued that the MTBA prohibits the taking or killing of a migratory bird at any time, by any means or in any manner. The evidence presented at trial established that a number of individuals saw oil-covered birds, both dead and alive. An employee told senior management and suggested to another member of CITGO's senior management team that CITGO install nets on the tanks to prevent birds from landing in the oil. Based on this evidence, the court held that not only was it reasonably foreseeable that protected migratory birds might become trapped in the layers of oil on top of the tanks, but that CITGO was aware that this was happening for years and did nothing to stop it. Because CITGO's unlawful, open-air oil tanks proximately caused the deaths of migratory birds in violation of the MBTA, CITGO's Motion to Vacate CITGO's Conviction for Violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was denied.
  • CITGO was convicted of multiple violations of the Clean Air Act and its regulations, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (“MBTA”). CITGO urged the 5th Circuit to reverse the Clean Air Act convictions because the district court erroneously instructed the jury about the scope of a regulation concerning “oil-water separators.” CITGO also contended that the MBTA convictions were infirm because the district court misinterpreted the statute as covering unintentional bird kills. The 5th Circuit agreed with both contentions, holding that CITGO's equalization tanks and air floatation device were not oil-water separators under the Clean Air Act's regulations and that “taking” migratory birds involved only “conduct intentionally directed at birds, such as hunting and trapping, not commercial activity that unintentionally and indirectly caused migratory bird deaths. The district court’s decision was reversed and remanded with instructions.
  • Defendant and several individuals went on a duck hunt in and were charged with exceeding the limit for migratory birds under Virginia law.  The game wardens testified that the defendant, Clucas, admitted in the presence of the other parties that they had killed more than the 'bag', meaning thereby that they had killed more than ten ducks allowed for each person.  The government held the position that the other individuals were hired for the reason of taking or killing the ducks.  The court held that in view of the fact that January 6, 1943, was not the first day of the season the possession of twenty-six ducks by the two defendants did not constitute a violation of the provisions of the Virginia regulation. The possession being legal, the burden of proof did not shift to the defendants. 

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