Cases

  • Plaintiffs brought suit against a ranch after their car struck two of the ranch's horses on the highway.  The trial court dismissed holding no duty of care was breached by the ranch because Iowa no longer had a statute prohibiting animals from roaming.  The Supreme Court of Iowa reversed reasoning that a duty of ordinary care still exists.

  • The United States Secretary of Agriculture (“Secretary”) fined Petitioner $395,900 after finding that he bought and sold regulated animals without a license, in violation of the Animal Welfare Act (“AWA”) and implementing regulations. In his petition for review, Petitioner argued that his activities were lawful, and that the Secretary abused its discretion in its choice of sanction. The petition was granted and denied in part.
  • Appellant operated a USDA-licensed exotic animal business in Texas. In February 2010, a United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service agent visited the business on a routine inspection and cited Appellant for several USDA regulation violations. After several subsequent inspections, several other violations were discovered and Appellant was presented with a Notice of Intent to Confiscate Animals. The next day, the animals were confiscated. Using Bivens, Appellant argued the agents violated her Fifth Amendment Due Process rights by (1) seizing her property without providing a method for challenging the seizure and (2) not allowing sufficient time to cure the cited violations prior to seizing her property. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. On appeal, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision because the Appellant failed to assert factual allegations showing how each defendant, by his or her own individual acts, violated her constitutional rights.
  • Dog owners brought negligence action against veterinarian and animal hospital after their dog suffered injuries while under the veterinarian's and the hospital's care. The Appeals Court held that the trial court did not err by allowing the jury to consider plaintiff-owners' mental pain and suffering, and that the jury could reasonably have viewed defendants' neglectful conduct resulting in the dog's injury to have amounted to great indifference to plaintiffs' property.

  • In this Massachusetts case, the plaintiff, a concessionaire at the Brockton Fair intended to award goldfish as a prize in a game of chance. The defendant, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), asserted that such conduct would violate G.L. c. 272, s 80F. In the action for declaratory relief, the court considered whether the term "animal" in the statute includes goldfish. The court concluded in the affirmative that, "in interpreting this humane statute designed to protect animals subject to possible neglect by prizewinners," former G.L. c. 272, s 80F applies to goldfish.

  • Plaintiff pled damages that included plaintiff's pain and suffering, extreme fright, shock, mortification, and the loss of the companionship of his dog after negligent treatment by defendant animal hospital killed his dog.  The court noted that there is no Michigan precedent that permits the recovery of damages for emotional injuries allegedly suffered as a consequence of property damage.  Although this Court is sympathetic to plaintiff's position, it chose to defer to the Legislature to create such a remedy.

  • Applicants sought a zoning variance to operate a nonprofit dog-rescue shelter. The zoning board denied the application, concluding that the dog-rescue operation run by applicants was a non-permissible “kennel” under the township's zoning ordinance. Applicants appealed to a trial court. The trial court determined that because applicants did not receive “economic gain” or a profit for their efforts, their dog-rescue operation was not a “kennel” and, therefore, was not a prohibited land use under the zoning ordinance. The trial court therefore reversed the zoning board's order. Intervenors, the applicants’ neighbors, appealed from the trial court's decision. Upon review, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania concluded that the term “kennel,” as used in the zoning ordinance, was ambiguous, and had to be construed in favor of applicants to find that applicants' operation of a large dog rescue facility on their property did not constitute the operation of a kennel. The appeals court therefore affirmed the trial court's decision.

  • Environmental groups challenged the NMFS's use of data in its classification of the Hawaii longline fishery as a "category III" fishery.  Held:  the NMFS has discretion to consider reliability of only available scientific data in classifying fishery.

  • Defendants, the Macaks, owned two dogs being boarded at Chieftan Kennels. Plaintiff was outside on her deck when the dogs entered her property and attacked her cats, one of which died later from its injuries. The plaintiff rushed to defend the cats and suffered multiple bites from the dogs.  The trial court held that the plaintiff had “provoked” the dogs. The Court of Appeals reversed.  “The dogs were already provoked and, in fact, were in a state of attack, for whatever reason when plaintiff responded to their behaviors while on her own property.” 

  • The Secretary of Commerce issued a regulation authorizing appellant salmon federation to take a fixed number of porpoise in connection to commercial fishing for salmon.  Appellee commercial fishermen opposed the permit.  The federation sought review of a judgment which preliminarily enjoined the Secretary from issuing the permit.

  • Petitioner sought to have the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, set aside a Default Decision and Order of a United States Department of Agriculture Judicial Officer concluding that Petitioner had willfully violated multiple provisions of the AWA, including knowingly operating as a dealer without a license by delivering for transportation, or transporting, two lions for exhibition without a valid license to do so, causing injury to two lions that resulted in the death of one of the lions, and lying to investigators about Petitioner’s actions.   The Court affirmed the Judicial Officer’s Decision and Order, finding, among other things, that the USDA did not err in concluding that Petitioner failed to admit or deny any material allegations in the complaint and was thus deemed to have admitted all allegations, the Judicial Officer did not abuse his discretion by revoking Petitioner’s AWA license on a finding of willfulness, and that that the Judicial Officer’s Decision and Order did not violate fundamental principles of fairness as embodied in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Animal Welfare Act, and the USDA’s rules.

  • The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) (7 U.S.C. §§ 2131–2159) regulates the housing, sale, transport, treatment, and exhibition of animals. Defendants, United States Secretary of Agriculture, licensed Plaintiff, Lancelot Kollman, as an exhibitor under the AWA. However, after the death of two lions and Kollman’s failure to contest charges, the Secretary revoked Kollman's license. Still, Hawthorn, a company that holds an exhibitor license, hired Kollman to train a “tiger act” for performance at circuses throughout the United States. Hawthorn then asked Kollman to travel with the tigers and perform the act. However, the USDA received complaints about Kollman's participation in the act, despite having his license revoked. The USDA investigated and determined that Kollman was prohibited from exhibiting animals as an employee of Hawthorn. Kollman, sued Thomas J. Vilsack, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, and Chester A. Gipson, a deputy administrator of animal care.  Kollman sued for a declaration that, at a circus maintained by his employer, Hawthorn Corporation, he could publicly perform the tiger act. The Defendants moved for summary judgment.  The United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division, held that the Defendants' motion for summary judgment was Granted. The court reasoned that Kollman was barred from presenting animals on behalf of Hawthorn because regardless of his status as a Hawthorn employee, Section 2.10(c) of the Animal Welfare Act clearly prohibited Kollman, as an individual with a revoked license, from exhibiting an animal. Secondly, Section 2.10(c) was unambiguous.

  • In Kondaurov v. Kerdasha , the Virginia Supreme Court held that the plaintiff-motorist could not recover damages for emotional or mental anguish she suffered either because of her concern for injuries sustained by her dog, who was riding in motorist's car at time of accident. Here, the plaintiff was clearly entitled to be compensated in damages for any emotional distress she suffered as a consequence of the physical impact she sustained in the accident. However, the court noted that Virginia still views pets as personal property, and plaintiffs cannot recover emotional distress damages resulting from negligently inflicted injury to personal property.

  • In 1999, President Clinton ordered the Forest Service ("FS") to initiate a nationwide plan to protect inventoried and uninventoried roadless areas in national forests, which eventually became termed the "Roadless Rule" (after extensive study was conducted in the 1970's).  The Kootenai Tribe, several livestock and recreational groups, and other plaintiffs filed suit contending that the Roadless Rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), claiming the rule would prevent access to national forests for proper purposes (e.g., fighting wildfires and threats from insects or disease).  On appeal of the grant of preliminary injunction, the Court held the Forest Service complied with the APA and NEPA in implementing the roadless rule, the court noted the extensive public notification process as well as the impact statements, which considered a full range of reasonable alternatives.  The court held that the district court erred in finding a strong likelihood that the Forest Service violated NEPA, as there was only minimal showing of irreparable harm ("restrictions on human intervention are not usually irreparable in the sense required for injunctive relief"). 

  • This case involved a petition by LaVeda Kovar, et al against the City of Cleveland to obtain an order to restrain the City from disposing of dogs impounded by the City Dog Warden by giving or selling them to hospitals or laboratories for experimental and research purposes.  The Court of Appeals held that the City of Cleveland, both by its constitutional right of home rule and by powers conferred on municipal corporations by statute, had the police power right to provide that no dog should be permitted to run at large unless muzzled, and any dog found at large and unmuzzled would be impounded.  Further, by carrying out the mandate of the city ordinance by disposing of these impounded dogs was simply the performance of a ministerial or administrative duty properly delegated to Director of Public Safety.

  • In this case, Corrine Kovnat filed suit against Xanterra Parks and Resorts (Xanterra) alleging that it was negligent in connection with the injuries she sustained while horseback riding in Yellowstone National Park. Kovnat argued that Xanterra was negligent because the cinch on the saddle was too loose and her stirrups were uneven. The district court reviewed the issue and granted summary judgment in favor of defendant, Xanterra. The court held that under Wyoming’s Recreational Safety Act, Xanterra owed no duty of care to protect Kovnat from the injuries she sustained. Kovnat appealed the district court’s ruling and the court of appeals affirmed in part and denied in part the district court’s ruling. Ultimately, the court of appeals found that summary judgment was only proper for Kovnat’s claim regarding the loose cinch but was not proper for the issue of the uneven stirrups. The court of appeals came to this conclusion after examining the Recreational Safety Act and finding that Xanterra cannot be held liable for any risks that are “inherent to the sport of horseback riding.” The court determined that the loose cinch was a reasonable risk that was inherent to the sport of horseback riding while the uneven stirrups were not. For this reason, the court of appeals remanded the case for further proceedings with regard to the issue of the uneven stirrups.

  • In Krasnecky v Meffen , the plaintiffs sought damages for emotional distress, loss of companionship, and society when defendant’s dogs broke into plaintiff’s backyard and killed their seven sheep. The plaintiffs loved their sheep like a parent would love a child, and went so far as to throw birthday parties for them. Plaintiff’s counsel, Steven Wise, Esq., also instructed the court to consult a text on veterinary ethics, which defined companion animals to include the plaintiff’s sheep within the definition. The court did not address the issue concerning the emotional distress claim, but instead stated that the class of persons authorized to recover were “persons” closely related to the injured person. Furthermore, Justice Jacobs noted that it would be irrational for plaintiffs to have greater rights in the case of a companion animal than in a case of the tortious death of an immediate family member.

  • The plaintiff, on behalf of her then seven-year-old son, brought an action against the defendant Elliot for injuries the child sustained resulting from a bite by defendant's golden retriever. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for a directed verdict reasoning that because this was the dog's first bite of a human, there was there was no cause of action under Georgia's “first bite” rule. The appellate court found that the excluded evidence did not indicate the owner had any reason to suspect that the dog had a propensity to bite and thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting defendant's motion or directing a verdict. 

  • In this case, a condominium owner, who suffered from an anxiety disorder and had been prescribed use of emotional support animal, brought action against condominium association, its board, and certain association members, alleging, inter alia, imposition of a fine for owner's violation of association's “no dogs” policy violated Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff sent information about her emotional support dog and a letter from a licensed psychologist indicating that plaintiff was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder to defendant Association's office manager. Plaintiff alleged that the President of the Association shared the content of her documents with some of the Association members, and approximately one year later plaintiff received an e-mail stating plaintiff had violated the "no dogs" policy contained in the Associations Rules and Regulations. The defendants moved for summary judgment, On each of the counts, the could held that: 1) owner's initial request to have emotional support dog was not specific; 2) association's alleged delay in processing condominium owner's request to have emotional support dog did not constitute refusal to grant reasonable accommodation; 3) association's notice of fine did not subject owner to adverse action; 4) there was no causal link between association's implementation of “no dogs” policy and owner's request to have emotional support dog; 5) there was no causal link between alleged disclosure of owner's confidential information and owner's request to have emotional support dog; 6) neighbor's blog posts regarding owner did not rise to level of interference with owner's FHA rights; and 7) condominium building was not public accommodation under ADA. With regard to the ADA claim, the court noted that a condominium can be a place of public accommodation if it operates as a place of lodging. Here, the bylaws specifically provided that Cowpet Bay West was a place of residence and not one of public accommodation. In addition, a single advertisement for a temporary rental on a webpage by one tenant was insufficient to show that owners were likely to rent to the public. On the issue of the blog posts constituting harassment under Section 3617, the court found that they did not rise to the level of interference with plaintiff's rights under the FHA. Instead, they reflected more of a "dispute between neighbors, not unlawful discrimination." The court found that the Board, the Association, and Talkington are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Counts One, Three, Five, and Six. The Court declined to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over local counts, Seven through Eighteen, as against the Board, the Association, Talkington, Verdiramo, and Cockayne, as no federal counts remain as against any of said defendants; an appropriate Judgment was to follow this memorandum.
  • Appellant commenced an action against defendant boyfriend, the owner of the dog that bit her, and his business, which she held was strictly liable for the injuries she suffered, where the attack occurred. The claims against defendant boyfriend were dismissed with prejudice. A jury verdict, however, found that although the business was a “harborer” of the dog, appellant was barred from recovery because she was a “keeper of the dog in that she had physical care or charge of dog, temporary or otherwise, at the time of the incident.” Appellant appealed, raising seven assignments of error for review. In addressing appellant’s claims, the Ohio Court of Appeals held that the status of an individual as an owner, keeper or harborer was relevant when deciding if an individual was barred from availing him or herself of the protections afforded by liability statutes. The court of appeals also ruled that the trial court properly gave the jury instruction and that the jury’s verdict was not “defective.” Further the court held that the testimony established at trial demonstrated that appellant had a significant relationship with the dog and that there was competent and credible evidence presented at trial to support the business’s position that appellant exercised some degree of management, possession, care custody or control over the dog. The judgment of the lower court was therefore affirmed with Judge Kathleen Ann Keough concurring and Judge Melody Stewart concurring in judgment only.
  • Activist sued a state-created agricultural association under 42 USC § 1983 to challenge a rule that limited demonstrations to “free expression zones” outside a state-owned performance facility. The Court of Appeals held that the association was not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. It held that the parking lots and walkways were public fora, and thus time, place and manner restrictions on speech had to be content-neutral and narrowly tailored to serve an important government interest. The Court held that the state did not have a significant interest in restricting protestors to these zones. The rule was not narrowly tailored enough to promote the association's interest in preventing traffic congestion, and restricted more speech than was necessary. Therefore, the rule unduly infringed free speech on its face.

  • The issue before the Iowa Supreme Court was whether hog confinement buildings could be considered “agricultural” so as to fall within the state's agricultural zoning exemption. The court held that h og confinement buildings were within the agricultural building exemption and thus exempt from county zoning regulations.
  • Five Plaintiffs Tracey K. Kuehl, Lisa K. Kuehl, Kris A. Bell, Nancy A. Harvey, John T. Braumann, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint against Defendants Pamela Sellner, Tom Sellner, and Cricket Hollow Zoo, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendants violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), by holding captive endangered species specifically the lemurs and tigers housed at Cricket Hollow Zoo. The United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division ordered the Defendants, to transfer the lemurs and tigers in their possession “to an appropriate facility which is licensed by the USDA and is capable of meeting the needs of the endangered species.” The Defendants proposed transporting the lemurs to Special Memories Zoo in Hortonville, Wisconsin, and transporting the tigers to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Centerpoint, Indiana. The Plaintiffs claimed that the proposed placements did not comply with the Court's Order and proposed that the lemurs be placed with the Prosimian Sanctuary in Jacksonville, Florida, and the tigers be transported to the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado. The Court held that the Special Memories Zoo was capable of meeting the lemurs' needs and should be transported there as the Defendant’s proposed. The court reasoned that even if the Court found Special Memories incapable of meeting the lemurs' needs, the Prosimian Sanctuary as proposed by the Plaintiff's was not licensed by the USDA. The Court also held that the endangered tigers should be transferred to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center as the Defendant’s proposed. The court reasoned that the center was capable of meeting of the needs of the tigers. Therefore the Court approved the Defendants' proposed placement of the lemurs and tigers.
  • Plaintiffs, including advocacy organization Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), brought suit against defendants the Sellners and the Cricket Hollow Zoo to enjoin defendants' mistreatment of their animals in violation of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. Defendants ran a zoo with over 300 animals, including lemurs, tigers, cougars, monkeys and birds, among others. Several of the plaintiffs visited defendants' zoo and witnessed care that raised concerns about the animals' mental and physical well-being, including lemurs kept in isolation with insufficient climbing structures, and tigers kept in feces-filled cages with inadequate care/enrichment. The district court denied plaintiffs' requests for attorney fees and costs and also transferred the animals to a facility that was not proposed by plaintiffs. On appeal, defendants argued that plaintiffs lack standing, and, even if they had standing, defendants contend that they did not violate the ESA. Plaintiffs also appealed, challenging the district court's placement decision for the animals, as well as the court's denial of their request for attorney fees. The Court of Appeals disagreed with defendants that plaintiffs lacked standing because "[they] visited the Cricket Hollow Zoo for the purpose of looking for claimed violations." The court noted that "it is the violation itself" and not the search for it that has caused injury to the plaintiffs. As to defendants' argument that they could not have violated the ESA because the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) provides a "safe harbor" for licensed facilities, the court found that the AWA does not provide a blanket immunity to the ESA. Here, the defendants harassed the lemurs under the ESA by keeping them socially isolated with insufficient enrichment. The defendants also harassed the tigers under the ESA by failing to provide appropriate veterinary care and keeping them in unsanitary conditions. With regard to the placement of the animals at a facility chosen by defendants, this court found no clear error by the district court and, thus, there was no abuse of discretion in the placement decision. Finally, as to denial of plaintiffs' request for attorney fees and costs, the court found that plaintiffs were seeking fees to serve "as a vehicle to close Cricket Hollow." The court was concerned that the use of the ESA as a "weapon" to close small, privately-owned zoos was not envisioned by the Act. Hence, those circumstances justified the district court's decision to deny the motion for attorney fees. The lower court's decision was affirmed.
  • Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant for violation of the Animal Control Act and alleged negligence due to the broken leg that the Plaintiff suffered after she was kicked by Defendant’s horse while trying to pass the horse on a group ride.   At the time of the accident, the defendant was neither an “equine activity sponsor” nor an “equine professional” according to the Act.   The issue was whether the Act applied only to those two groups of people, and the court held that the Act does not preclude negligence liability for persons other than equine activity sponsors and equine professionals.

  • A California appellate court held that the plaintiffs’ nuisance claim, which was based on the defendants’ alleged failure to cease activity that resulted in the attraction of feral and domestic cats to the plaintiffs’ backyard, survived summary judgment.  The plaintiffs were members of a family residing in a home located next to an apartment complex.  Upon moving into the home, the family noticed that many domestic and feral cats were defecating and urinating in the plaintiffs’ yard.  The plaintiffs claimed that the cats were attracted due to the failure of the neighboring apartment complex to ensure that its tenants placed lids on the trash receptacles.  The appellate court partially reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that the defendants could, in fact, be liable under a nuisance theory for damages arising from actions that caused “the presence of [a] large number of cats on Plaintiffs’ property.”

  • Action was brought to determine Indian tribe members' rights related to off-reservation hunting of white-tailed deer, fisher and other furbearing animals, and small game within the area of the state ceded to the United States by the plaintiff tribes.  The Court held that Indians and non-Indians were each entitled to one half of game harvest within each harvesting area rather than as a whole territory to accommodate the longer Indian hunting season.  With regard to hunting on private land in the ceded area, the Court held that plaintiffs' members have no more rights than non-Indian hunters to hunt or to trap on private lands, as tribal members who are hunting or trapping on private lands are still subject to state hunting and trapping regulations.  The Court also held that the state could properly prohibit Indians from hunting deer during the summer and at night due to the safety risk to humans.

  • In this Indiana case, a dog owner whose dog was attacked and killed by a neighbor's dog, brought an action against the neighbor to recover veterinary bills and emotional distress damages. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's grant of partial summary judgment in favor of defendant-neighbor, finding that however negligent the neighbor's behavior might have been in controlling his dog, his actions did not constitute outrageous behavior so as to give rise to claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court also refused to extend the bystander rule under plaintiff's negligent infliction of emotional distress claim to include the dog owner's witnessing the death of his dog.

  • The owner of a horse tried to enter his horse into the 64th Annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Upon closer inspection of the horse, experts determined the horse was "sore," meaning the horse had an injury to or sensitization of its legs that induced a high stepping gait for which Tennessee Walkers are known. While the horse's owner contended that the soreness occurred as a result of  the West Nile Virus, he was eventually convicted with a violation of the Horse Protection Act, (15 U.S.C. §§ 1821-1831). This Court affirmed Lacy's conviction, finding that that substantial evidence supported the JO's conclusion that Lacy failed to rebut the statutory presumption of soreness.

  • Plaintiff motorist sued horse owner for negligence after he collided with the horse that was loose on the highway. The Court of Appeals sustained summary judgment for owner because the motorist produced no evidence that owner 1) had failed to act with reasonable care in enclosing his horses, 2) that horse had a propensity to escape or cause injury that gave rise to a heightened duty on owner's part, and 3) motorist produced no circumstantial evidence that would imply negligence, such as a dilapidated fence. This judgment was Reversed by Ladnier v. Hester, 98 So.3d 1025 (Miss., 2012).

  • Plaintiff motorist sued horse owner for negligence after he collided with the horse that was loose on the highway. Plaintiff sought damages for personal injury. The Court of Appeals sustained summary judgment for horse owner because the motorist produced no evidence that owner 1) had failed to act with reasonable care in enclosing his horses, and 2) that horse had a propensity to escape or cause injury that gave rise to a heightened duty on owner's part. After being granted a writ of certiorari by the Mississippi Supreme Court, the court held that the Plaintiffs had offered sufficient evidence to withstand the horse owner's motion for summary judgment.The case was then reversed and remanded.

  • Plaintiff horse owner sought review of a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, which found in favor of defendants, veterinarian and insurer, in an action to recover damages for the death of plaintiff's horse. The court affirmed the judgment that found defendants, veterinarian and insurer, not negligent in the death of a horse belonging to plaintiff horse owner because they met the statutorily required standard of care. Defendants did not breach a duty to warn because the risk of a fatal reaction to the drug they gave to the horse was common and was considered by equine specialists to be insubstantial.

  • Owners of a licensed dog that escaped while not wearing its tags filed an action against a local animal shelter that ultimately released the dog to others for adoption.  The court held that the town's actions fully complied with its animal control ordinance and that its ordinance provided ample notice to plaintiffs consistent with state law and due process requirements.

  • This is an appeal of a dismissal of appellant Landry's claims under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (“the TCPA”) and the subsequent required awarding of attorney fees and sanction under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 27.009. Landry's is a large corporation that owns and operates more than 500 entertainment properties across the country, including the Houston Aquarium, Inc. The aquarium houses four white tigers in an human-made enclosure known as "Maharaja's Temple." Appellees, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and its attorneys as well as a radio station owner (Cheryl Conley), asserted a variety of claims in connection with the publication of the notice to intend to sue under the Endangered Species Act due to the care and housing of the tigers. As a result of that notice and the associated publicity, Landry's asserted claims in the trial court for defamation, business disparagement, tortious interference with prospective business relations, abuse of process, trespass, conspiracy to commit each of these torts, and conspiracy to commit theft. Conley and ALDF moved to dismiss the claims under the TCPA, arguing that the claims related to exercise of free speech, petition, and association, and that Landry's could not make out a prima facie case. Additionally, they also argued that the claims were barred by the judicial-proceedings privilege. The lower court agreed and granted Conley's motion to dismiss. It also awarded $250,000 to ALDF and $200,000 to Conley. On appeal here, Landry again points to the allegedly defamatory statements released on social media (Twitter and Facebook) and through news media regarding the tigers' care. The court noted that many of the statements were non-actionable because they were not shown to be false statements of fact or were opinions. Nonetheless, even on those statements where Landry's met their burden of proving a defamation claim, the statements were protected by the judicial-proceedings privilege. The court was not convinced by Landry's contention that the statements were not made in contemplation of litigation because they were made after the required federal notice for filing suit under the ESA. Additionally, the court also rejected Landry's claim that the ALDF cannot claim attorney immunity because it is not a law firm and instead is comprised of attorneys who hold law licenses. The court observed that law licenses are not issued to business entities, but to individuals. The court also rejected Landry's remaining causes of action. As to the attorneys' fee and sanctions, the court did modify the attorneys' fees because one attorney at the trial court level did not participate in the appeal. Landry's then argued that the $450,000 in sanctions was excessive. The court first noted the TCPA mandates an award of sanctions and attorneys' fees. In reviewing the award for abuse of discretion, this court reviewed arguments by ALDF concerning Landry's hiring of the third largest law firm to defend a relatively small initial action, the filing of a 157-page response, with Landry's unwillingness to concede any points. The court took that in addition to several factors under the TCPA. The court was particularly concerned with Landry's filing of this suit on day 59 of the 60-day notice to file suit under the ESA (which may have been an indication to preempt the federal suit, according to the court). Despite that and more, the court did conclude that sanctions that were 2.4 and 2.8 times the attorneys' fees awards were excessive. The court suggested a remittitur, which would bring those awards respectively to $103,191.26 and $71,295.00. Thus, the lower court's decision to dismiss Landry's claims was affirmed, but the awards for attorneys' fee and sanctions were modified.
  • Plaintiff-appellant Edna L. Langford appeals from summary judgments granted in favor of defendants-appellees, Emergency Pet Clinic and Animal Kingdom Pet Cemetery, arising out of the death and interment of her dog, Bozie, who was buried in a mass grave contrary to her wishes.  Since plaintiff did not satisfy the requirements necessary to bring a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (to wit, the extreme and outrageous element and proof of mental anguish beyond her capacity to endure it ), the appellate court held that the lower court did not err in finding no basis for the claim.  The court also disallowed her claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress as plaintiff was neither a bystander to an accident nor in fear of physical harm to her own person. 

  • In this New Jersey case, a horse owner brought an action against the person who exercised his horse while the horse was being boarded at the defendant's stable. While the stable employee was "lunging" the horse, the horse reared up, collapsed on his side with blood pouring from his nostrils, and then died. On appeal of summary judgment for the defendant, the court held that the person who exercised horse could not be liable under the tort of conversion as she did not exercise such control and dominion over the horse that she seriously interfered with plaintiff's ownership rights in the horse. While the court found that a bailment relationship existed, the plaintiff failed to come forward with any additional evidence that established the horse was negligently exercised or that the exercise itself was a proximate cause of its death. The grant of summary judgment for the defendants was affirmed.
  • Respondent was a corporation engaged in the garbage collection business.  One of its employees maliciously hurled an empty garbage can at plaintiff's pet pedigreed dog, who was tethered at the time, killing it.  The issue before the court was the reconsideration not of  the issue of liability, but for determination only of compensatory and punitive damages.  The court stated that it was obvious from the facts that the act performed by the representative of the respondent was malicious and demonstrated an extreme indifference to the rights of the petitioner. Having this view, there was no prohibition of punitive damages relative to awarding compensation for mental pain, as would be the case if there had been physical injury resulting only from simple negligence.  The court went on to say that the restriction of the loss of a pet to its intrinsic value in circumstances such as the ones before us is a principle we cannot accept and that the malicious destruction of the pet provides an element of damage for which the owner should recover, irrespective of the value of the animal because of its special training.

  • The appellant appeal against a conviction for animal cruelty sustained in a lower court. After an examination of the elements of the statutory offense, it was found that the charge upon which the conviction was sustained was unknown to law.

  • Plaintiffs, Robert and Iva LaRosa filed this action in August of 2018, alleging that the defendants violated their rights under the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"). The Court dismissed the complaint and the Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. The Plaintiffs had applied to live at River Quarry Apartments in August of 2017. They requested a reasonable accommodation to keep their dog at the apartment without paying a fee. The Plaintiffs provided a copy of a note from a nurse practitioner stating that the companion dog helps manage Mr. LaRosa’s post-traumatic stress disorder. The Plaintiffs were approved for the apartment but told that their reasonable accommodation request was still being processed and received forms to fill out regarding the reasonable accommodation. River Quarry required Mr. LaRose’s doctor to fill out a form verifying the need for an assistance animal. Rather than completing the form, the plaintiffs provided a letter from Mr. LaRosa’s primary care physician which stated that in the doctor’s opinion, an emotional support animal would help mitigate the symptoms that Mr. LaRose was experiencing. River Quarry insisted on speaking with Mr. LaRose’s doctor directly to verify the information that the plaintiffs had given. After Kirk Cullimore, an attorney on behalf of River Quarry, spoke with the doctor, River Quarry wrote a letter to the Plaintiffs denying their request for a reasonable accommodation stating that the doctor declined to verify that Mr. LaRosa met the two prong test that one must be handicapped and there must be a nexus between the handicap and the need for the animal. Soon after this, Mr. LaRosa saw his primary care physician and had the actual form completed by his doctor and turned it in to River Quarry. Kirk Cullimore believed that the doctor’s signature on the form was forged and called Mr. LaRose’s doctor to speak with him again. The doctor’s secretary informed Cullimore that the signature was genuine. Mr. and Mrs. LaRosa argued that they were injured by the discrimination of the Defendants in violation of the FHA. The Court denied the Plaintiffs claim under the FHA because they did not sufficiently allege that the Defendants refused to make the requested accommodation. River Quarry allowed the dog to stay in the apartment while their request for an accommodation was reviewed. The Court stated that housing providers are granted a meaningful opportunity to investigate a request for an accommodation. Housing providers do not have to immediately approve a request for an accommodation right away. River Quarry ended up approving the request within 45 days after the initial request. The Court held that this was not an unreasonable delay considering that River Quarry did not have sufficient information to make a determination until after Mr. LaRosa’s doctor completed the verification form. Prior to that the doctor’s letter and the phone call between Cullimore and the doctor did not reveal enough information for River Quarry to make a determination on the accommodation. The Plaintiffs, however, succeeded on their interference claim. The LaRosas were engaged in a protected activity when they applied for a reasonable accommodation and they sufficiently alleged that they were subjected to adverse action and that a causal link existed between the protected activity and the adverse action. The Defendants misrepresented the contents of Mr. Cullimore and Mr. LaRosa’s doctor’s conversation. The Court ultimately denied in part and granted in part the Defendant’s motion to dismiss and denied in part and granted in part the motion to dismiss claims against Kirk Cullimore and his law office.
  • The accident underlying this litigation occurred on a dairy farm owned and operated by defendant. Plaintiff Larry Bard, a self-employed carpenter, arrived at the farm to meet defendant John Timer, another self-employed carpenter to repair of the dairy barn. While working, Bard was seriously injured by a bull. Bard, with his wife suing derivatively, commenced an action against both Jahnke and Timer to recover damages for his personal injuries, alleging causes of action sounding in strict liability and negligence. In affirming the Appellate Division's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment, this court found that Jahnke was not liable for Bard's injuries unless he knew or should have known of the bull's vicious or violent propensities. The Court noted that the record contained no such evidence.

  • In this case twelve neighbors brought a private nuisance claim against another neighbor for keeping numerous dogs in a residential area. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald rescued unwanted dogs by keeping them on their property; Ms. McDonald provided food and shelter and attempted to place the animals in new adoptive homes. At the time of trial there were 40 dogs on the property. The neighbors had called the police and complained of frequent barking and the smell of urine. The McDonalds argue that they had priority of location over the defendants. When they moved to the neighborhood in 1952 it had been sparsely settled. However, over the years the neighborhood had become residential, and while many of the neighbors also had dogs, none of them exceeded three dogs. Ultimately the court held that for the McDonalds to be operating a shelter or kennel style facility was inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood, and after reviewing the testimony, the evidence in this case was sufficient to show a normal person would find the situation was a nuisance. The court upheld the lower court’s injunction to limit the number of dogs that the McDonalds could keep.
  • Plaintiffs adopted a basset hound from animal control despite the fact that the dog had been turned over by a prior owner to be euthanized. The basset hound, who attacked the plaintiffs on three different occasions without injury, attacked plaintiffs' other dog. When one plaintiff tried to separate the dogs, the basset hound attacked him. Defendant removed the basset hound from the home that same day and refused to return the dog to the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking to recover damages for injuries, asserting causes of action for, among other things, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, products liability and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On appeal from the New York Supreme Court decision, the appellate court found that under the circumstances, issues of fact exist as to whether plaintiffs reasonably relied on defendants' misrepresentation and whether plaintiffs could have discovered the dog’s dangerous nature with due diligence. The appellate court also found that the contract clause at issue did not preclude plaintiffs from recovering for negligence because it did not “advise the signor that the waiver extended to claims that might arise from the defendant's own negligence.” The appellate court did, however, find that plaintiffs did not satisfy the “rigorous ... and difficult to satisfy requirements for a viable cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The court also found that sanctions were not warranted.
  • Upon an investigation of numerous complaints, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty obtained a warrant and searched plaintiffs’ house. As a result, plaintiffs were charged with over a hundred counts that were later withdrawn. Plaintiffs then filed the present case, asserting violations of their federal constitutional rights, as well as various state-law tort claims. Defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming qualified immunity. The district court granted the motion in part as to: (1) false arrest/false imprisonment, malicious prosecution of one plaintiff and as to 134 of the charges against another plaintiff, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and invasion of privacy; and (2) to the following claims in Count One: verbal abuse, security of person and property, false arrest/false imprisonment, due process and equal protection, and failure to train or discipline as the result of a policy or custom. The District Court denied the motion with respect to (1) the following claim in Count One: unreasonable search and seizure and the individual defendants' request for qualified immunity in connection with that claim; and (2) with respect to one plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim, but only to the charge relating to the puppy's facial injuries.
  • Plaintiffs sued defendant fish and game protectors to recover damages for the loss of their seized fishing nets.  At issue was the New York statute that prohibited fishing in the area where plaintiffs were fishing and proscribed seizure of fishing gear used in violation of the statute.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that such a statute is a constitutional exercise of state police power, as the protection of fish and game has always been within the proper domain of police power.  Further, the court found the legislature acted properly in providing a seizure component to the statute to control what it termed a "public nuisance." 

  • Chamberlain owned a dog breeding kennel with over one hundred fifty dogs. An investigation was conducted when the Sheriff's Office received complaints about the condition of the animals. Observations indicated the kennel was hot, overcrowded, and poorly ventilated. The dogs had severely matted fur, were sick or injured, and lived in cages covered in feces. Dog food was moldy and water bowls were dirty. Many cages were stacked on top of other cages, allowing urine and feces to fall on the dogs below. A court order was granted to remove the dogs. The humane society, rescue groups, and numerous volunteers assisted by providing food, shelter, grooming and necessary veterinary care while Chamberlain's criminal trial was pending. Chamberlain was convicted of animal cruelty. The organizations and volunteers sued Chamberlain for compensation for the care provided to the animals. The trial court granted the award and the appellate court affirmed. Ohio code authorized appellees' standing to sue for the expenses necessary to prevent neglect to the animals. The evidence was sufficient to support an award for damages for the humane society, the rescue groups, and the individual volunteers that protected and provided for the well-being of the dogs during the months of the trial.
  • Company which produces antiserum for medical diagnostic tests by injecting rabbits and other live animals with antigens and then extracting their blood is research facility within meaning of Act.
  • An attendant of a dog fight was convicted of a Class A misdemeanor under section 35-46-3-4 of the Indiana Code. On appeal, the defendant-appellant argued that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and that the statute invited arbitrary law enforcement, which violated the Due Process clause of the U.S. Constitution. Though the appeals court found the defendant-appellant had waived her constitutional claims by not filing a motion at the bench trial, the appeals court found her claims lacked merit. The defendant-appellant’s conviction was therefore upheld.

  • Alex Leger instituted this action against the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and Burton Angelle, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, to recover damages for the loss of his 1973 sweet potato crop.  Leger's primary contention was that, since the State of Louisiana is the owner of all wild quadrupeds according to statute, it is legally responsible for damages done to his potato crop.  The court held that the statutory  language compels the conclusion that the state's ownership is in a sovereign, and not a proprietary, capacity.  Thus, the nature of the ownership is as a trustee and the management duties are carried out under police power authority.  The court found nothing in the cited statutes or in the law which indicates that the state has a duty to harbor wild birds or wild quadrupeds, to control their movements or to prevent them from damaging privately owned property.

  • While participating in a bicycle race on Forest Service lands, plaintiff (Legro) was attacked seriously injured by defendants' (Robinsons') dogs. The Robinsons held a grazing permit from the Forest Service for the land where the injury occurred and the dogs were acting as predator control dogs there. On appeal, this court agreed with the lower court that the Robinsons were landowners for purposes of the Premises Liability Act (PLA) and this did in fact abrogate the plaintiffs' common law claims. However, as a matter of first impression, the court  determined that the PLA does not abrogate the statutory dog bite claim. As to the predator control dog exception, the court found that while the dogs were working as predator control dogs, the issue is whether the dogs were on property "under the control of" the Robinsons at the time. Under these facts, a grazing permit, without more, does not establish control for the predator dog exception of the dog bite law.

  • The Plaintiffs, Residents of Los Angeles, brought a taxpayer action against the Defendants, the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Zoo, alleging elephant abuse in violation of various Penal Code provisions. The Superior Court, Los Angeles County, granted the Defendants summary judgment. The Residents appealed. At trial, the Residents were awarded injunctive and declaratory relief. The Court of Appeals reversed. On remand, the trial court rejected many of the Resident’s claims, but issued limited injunctions prohibiting use of particular forms of discipline, requiring the elephants to have specific amounts of exercise time, and requiring the rototilling of soil in exhibit. Both parties appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of California granted review and reversed the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court held that: (1) the prior Court of Appeals decision was not law of the case as to the argument that the Residents was precluded from obtaining injunctive relief for conduct that violated Penal Code, and (2) the Residents' challenge to the city's treatment of elephants improperly sought injunctive relief for Penal Code violations.

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