Cats: Related Cases
|American Bird Conservancy v. Harvey||232 F. Supp. 3d 292 (E.D.N.Y. 2017)||
Plaintiff, American Bird Conservancy, is a non-profit organization that was dedicated to the conservation of the Piping Plover (a threatened species) in this case. The individual Plaintiffs, David A. Krauss and Susan Scioli were also members of the organization, who observed Piping Plovers at Jones Beach, in New York State for many years. The Plaintiffs brought an action against Defendant Rose Harvey, the Commissioner of the New York State “Parks Office”. The Plaintiffs asserted that the Commissioner failed to act while members of the public routinely fed, built shelters, and cared for the feral cats on Jones Beach. As the cat colonies flourished, the Piping Plover population decreased due to attacks by the cats. The Plaintiffs contended that by failing to take measures to decrease the feral cat population, the Commissioner was allowing the cats to prey on the Piping Plover, in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Commissioner moved to dismiss the complaint. The District Court, held that: (1) the affidavit and documentary evidence provided by the Alley Cat Allies (ACA) organization was outside the scope of permissible supporting materials for the motion to dismiss. (2)The Plaintiffs had standing to bring action alleging violation of the Endangered Species Act. The Commissioners motion to dismiss was denied.
|Akron ex rel. Christman-Resch v. Akron||825 N.E.2d 189 (Ohio, 2005)||
City of Akron, Ohio cat owners filed suit against city, its mayor, and city council president, seeking declaratory judgment that new city code sections, relating to the trapping and euthanization of free-roaming cats, were unconstitutional. After the Court of Common Pleas, Summit County granted summary judgment to defendants, the cat owners appealed. The Court of Appeals held that the city's ordinances relating to the trapping and euthanization of free-roaming cats did not violate cat owners' substantive due process rights. Further, the ordinances which allowed a cat to be euthanized after three business days following the date of impoundment, did not violate cat owners' procedural due process rights or right to equal protection. Finally, the ordinances, which allowed city to seize free-roaming cats in response to complaints, did not violate the Fourth Amendment and city's actions were covered by sovereign immunity.
|Allen v. Cox||942 A.2d 296 (Conn. 2008)||
The plaintiff (Allen) brought this action against the defendants (Jessica Cox and Daniel Cox) alleging that she was injured by the defendants' cat after the defendants negligently allowed the cat to roam free. The trial court rendered summary judgment for the defendants. Relying mainly on the Restatement (Second), this court held that when a cat has a propensity to attack other cats, knowledge of that propensity may render the owner liable for injuries to people that foreseeably result from such behavior.
|Allen v. Municipality of Anchorage||168 P.3d 890 (Alaska App., 2007)||
Krystal R. Allen pleaded no contest to two counts of cruelty to animals after animal control officers came to her home and found 180 to 200 cats, 3 dogs, 13 birds, and 3 chickens in deplorable conditions. She was sentenced to a 30-day jail term and was placed on probation for 10 years. One of the conditions of Allen's probation prohibits her from possessing any animals other than her son's dog. In first deciding that its jurisdictional reach extends to claims not just based on the term of imprisonment, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by restricting Allen's possession of animals during the term of her probation.
|Allendorf v. Redfearn||2011 IL App (2d) 110130 (2011)||
After a farm employee was injured in an all terrain vehicle (ATV) while trying to round up a bull, he sued the farm owners under the Domestic Animals Running at Large Act. The Appellate Court held that the employee could not recover under the Act, which protects members of the general public who cannot be expected to appreciate the risk posed by an animal. Because the employee was not an innocent bystander but rather was attempting to exercise control over the bull at the time he was injured, he fell within the Act's definition of an “owner” of the bull.
|Alvarez v. Clasen||946 So.2d 181 (La.,2006)||
Plaintiff sued neighbors who trapped cat outside and brought it to an animal shelter where it was euthanized. This court held that private parties trapping a stray cat were not liable for conversion because local ordinances permitted animal shelters to hold stray cats.
|Animal Welfare Institute v. Martin||623 F.3d 19 (C.A.1 (Me.), 2010).||
Animal welfare organizations sued the State of Maine under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to stop the authorization of trapping activity that affected Canada lynx. The Court of Appeals held that such organizations had standing to sue, but that the District Court did not err in its refusal to grant a permanent injunction banning foothold traps or other relief.
|Anzalone v. Kragness||826 N.E.2d 472 (Ill. 2005)||
A woman whose cat was attacked while being boarded at veterinarian's office brought claims against veterinarian and animal hospital. Trial court dismissed claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress and the Court of Appeals reversed holding dismissal was not warranted.
|Baker v. Middleton (unpublished opinion)||No. 29D05-0605-SC-1055 (Ind. Super. Ct. Mar. 2, 2007)||In Baker , the defendant fed and watered four cats that lived in the neighborhood. These cats damaged the plaintiff’s home, destroying insulation, a vapor barrier, and duct work. The cats also urinated and defecated in the crawl space of the home. In the Superior Court, the plaintiff argued that a town ordinance and a county ordinance independently imposed a duty on the defendant to control the cats and prevent them from damaging the plaintiff's property. The court found, however, that since the defendant was participating in a Trap Neuter and Release program, the county ordinance could not serve as a basis for finding that the defendant was negligent in caring for the feral cats. The court went on to reject two alternative theories of negligence also proffered by the plaintiff. The plaintiff had therfore failed to establish that the defendant was negligent in her actions and judgment was entered in favor of the defendant.|
|Beck v. Cornell University||42 A.D.3d 609 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept., 2007)||
Plaintiff was a temporary employee in the dairy barns at defendant's Animal Science Teaching and Research Center, where a population of feral cats had been living. The Center had previously cared for the cats, but adopted a new policy to reduce the population for health and safety reasons. Despite the Center's directions not to feed the cats, the plaintiff continued to feed the cats with his own cat food and was fired. Plaintiff brought a suit for negligence and prima facie tort, which Supreme Court dismissed for failure to state a cause of action and the appellate court affirmed.
|Bjugan v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co.||969 F.Supp.2d 1283 (D. Ore. 2013)||
After a house was damaged by a tenant’s 95 cats and 2 dogs, a landlord sought to recover expenses through State Farm Insurance. State Farm, however, denied the landlord coverage due to a provision in the insurance policy that excluded damages caused by domestic animals. In a diversity action brought by the landlord, the district court found the damage caused by the tenant’s cats fell within State Farm’s policy exclusion and therefore granted State Farm’s motion for summary judgment.
|Bogart v. Chapell||396 F.3d 548 (4th Cir., 2005)||
A woman was housing hundreds of animals in her residential home, the animals were seized and more than two hundred of them were euthanized. The woman brought a section 1983 claim against the county sheriff's department and human society. The trial court granted defendants summary judgment and the Court of Appeals affirmed holding no viable due process claim existed arising from the euthanization.
|Boyer v. Seal||553 So. 2d 827 (La. 1989)||In this case, plaintiff filed suit against her daughter under Civil Code article 2321 after her daughter’s cat accidentally tripped plaintiff causing injury to her wrist and back that required medication and hospitalization. Under Civil Code article 2321, plaintiff must show that the domestic animal created an “unreasonable risk of harm” and that any damage that occurred was a direct result of that harm. Additionally, the plaintiff does not need to show that the animal was acting aggressively or was inherently dangerous to collect damages under the code. The court held that plaintiff did not meet this burden of showing an “unreasonable risk of harm” because the cat “getting underfoot and accidentally tripping the plaintiff was not an unreasonable risk.”|
|Branks v. Kern||348 S.E.2d 815 (N.C.App.,1986)||
In this negligence action, a cat owner brought suit against veterinarian and veterinary clinic after she was bitten by her own cat while the cat was receiving treatment by the veterinarian. At issue, is whether the veterinarian owed a duty to the cat owner to exercise reasonable care in preventing the cat from harming the owner while the cat was being treated. In review of the lower court’s grant of motion for summary judgment, the Court of Appeals held that substantial issues of material fact existed to preclude the grant of summary judgment. However, this was overturned on appeal at the Supreme Court. ( See , Branks v. Kern (On Appeal) 359 S.E.2d 780 (N.C.,1987)).
|Branks v. Kern (On Appeal)||359 S.E.2d (780 N.C.,1987)||
On grant of appeal from Branks v. Kern , 348 S.E.2d 815 (N.C. 1986). Cat owner brought negligence action against veterinarian and veterinary clinic after her hand was bitten while she held her own cat during a catheterization procedure. In reversing the Court of Appeals decision (348 S.E.2d 815 (N.C. App. 1986)), the Supreme Court held that defendants in the instant case have met their burden of showing that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law where the evidence showed that the danger was obvious to plaintiff and defendants only owed plaintiff a duty to exercise ordinary care.
|Britton v. Bruin||Not Reported in P.3d, 2016 WL 1019213 (N.M. Ct. App., 2016)||In this case, plaintiff appealed a decision by the district court denying her petition for a writ of mandamus. Plaintiff petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus to stop the City of Albuquerque's effort to control a large population of feral cats in its metropolitan area by “trapping, neutering them, and then returning them” to the location at which they were found. The district court denied the petition for a writ of mandamus because the court held that there was “a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.” Also, the court held that because the city’s program did not result in any unconstitutional action, the writ of mandamus was not appropriate. The court affirmed the district court’s ruling, looking only at whether or not there was “a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.” The court did not address the issue of whether or not the city’s population control effort was appropriate and should continue. The district court's order denying Petitioner's application for a writ of mandamus is affirmed.|
|California Veterinary Medical Ass'n v. City of West Hollywood||61 Cal. Rptr. 3d 318 (2007)||This California case centers on an anti-cat declawing ordinance passed by the city of West Hollywood in 2003. On cross-motions for summary judgment the trial court concluded West Hollywood's anti-declawing ordinance was preempted by section 460 and entered judgment in favor of the CVMA, declaring the ordinance invalid and enjoining further enforcement. On appeal, however, this Court reversed, finding section 460 of the veterinary code does not preempt the ordinance. Although section 460 prohibits local legislation imposing separate and additional licensing requirements or other qualifications on individuals holding state licenses issued by agencies of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), it does not preclude otherwise valid local regulation of the manner in which a business or profession is performed.|
|Carroll v. Rock||469 S.E.2d 391 (Ga. App., 1996)||
After plaintiff's cat escaped while at the defendant's animal hospital, Rock sued Dr. Carroll d/b/a The Animal Care Clinic for conversion or breach of bailment and emotional distress, seeking punitive damages and attorney fees. The court agreed with Carroll that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on punitive and vindictive damages, as vindictive or punitive damages are recoverable only when a defendant acts maliciously, wilfully, or with a wanton disregard of the rights of others. Plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim also must fail because defendant's conduct was not outrageous or egregious.
|Cat Champion Corp. v. Jean Marie Primrose||149 P.3d 1276 (Or. Ct. App. 2006)||
A woman had 11 cats which were in a state of neglect and were taken away from her and put with a cat protection agency. Criminal charges were dropped against the woman when it was found she was mentally ill and incapable of taking care of herself or her cats. The court found it could grant the cat protection agency ownership over the cats so they could be put up for adoption, even though the woman had not been criminal charged, and had not forfeited her cats.
|Celinski v. State||911 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. App. 1995).||
Criminal conviction of defendant who tortured cats by poisoning them and burning them in microwave oven. Conviction was sustained by circumstantial evidence of cruelty and torture.
|Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne||607 F.Supp.2d 1078 (D.Ariz.,2009)||
Cross motions for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ claim against Defendants, the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging that the Secretary’s failure to designate critical habitat and prepare a recovery plan for the jaguar was unlawful under the ESA. The United States District Court, D. Arizona granted Plaintiffs’ motion in part and denied Plaintiffs’ motion in part, finding that Defendants’ determination that designation of a critical habitat would not be prudent must be set aside because it did not appear to be based on the best scientific evidence available as required by the ESA, and that Defendants’ determination not to prepare a recovery plan must also be set aside and remanded for further consideration because the determination was inconsistent with Defendants’ own policy guidance and long-standing practice concerning the distinction between foreign and domestic species.
|Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Labs, Inc. v. Board of Trustees of State University of New York||92 NY2d 357 (NY, 1998)||
Citizens wanted access to University records dealing with biomedical research using cats and dogs. These records were created, as required by federal Law, but access to the records was requested under state law. According to the New York Freedom of Information Act (FOIL), documents held by an “agency” should be disclosed. The lower Appellate Division held that s ince the University did not fall under the definition of “agency" under New York Public Officers Law, it was not required to turn over such documents. The New York Court of Appeals, however, found that the Appellate Division's rationale for denying FOIL disclosure was inconsistent with precedent, and that the legislative goal behind FOIL of was liberal disclosure, limited only by narrowly circumscribed specific statutory exemptions. Thus, in reversing the Appellate Division's decision, the Court of Appeals held that the records were subject to disclosure.
|City of La Marque v. Braskey||216 S.W.3d 861 (Tex. Ct. App. 2007)||
A city's ordinance did not allow a kennel, defined as a place containing more than four dogs and cats, to be operated within 100 feet of a residence, school, or church. A woman kept as many as 100 cats at a time in a shelter within 100 feet of three homes, and she was criminally charged under the ordinance. The court found that the ordinance did not violate the plaintiff's constitutional rights because there was no right to use her property in any manner that she chose.
|Commonwealth v. Creighton||639 A.2d 1296 (Pa.Cmwlth.,1994)||
In this Pennsylvania case, a cat owner challenged a local ordinance that limited the number of cats she could own at her residence (she owned 25 cats that were rescued "mousers" from factories; the ordinance limited ownership to 5). The court noted that the preamble to the ordinance stated that pursuant to the Borough Code and "in the interest of preserving the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents ... [the Borough] desires to limit the number of dogs and cats kept by any one person and/or residence," but did not state what legitimate public health, safety and welfare goals the Borough sought to advance by enacting this ordinance. Thus, from the information before the court, it could not say whether the Borough ordinance here was a reasonable means to effectuate a legitimate governmental goal.
|Commonwealth v. Epifania||951 N.E.2d 723 (Mass.App.Ct.,2011)||
Defendant appealed his conviction of arson for setting fire to a dwelling house, and wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person. The Appeals Court held that testimony that the cat belonged to the victim was sufficient to support a conviction of wilfully and maliciously killing the animal of another person.
|COMMONWEALTH v. MASSINI||188 A.2d 816 (Pa.Super 1963)||
In this Pennsylvania case, defendant was prosecuted for killing a cat that belonged to his neighbor. The section under which he was prosecuted prohibited the killing of a 'domestic animal of another person.' However, a cat was not one of the animals defined as a ‘domestic animal’ by the Act. Using rules of statutory interpretation, the court found that the omission of 'cat' from the listed species of the penal code provision was intentional by the legislature, and thus the defendant's sentence was discharged.
|Commonwealth v. Reynolds||76 A.2d 1088 (Pa., 2005)||
A woman's four serval cats, two fennic foxes, three ringtailed lemurs, three kinkajous, and one wallaby were all seized pursuant to a search warrant. The trial court granted the woman's motion for return of her property in part and denied in part, specifically allowing for the return of the kinkajous and lemurs. The Court of Appeals remanded to determine whether the woman's possession of the animals was in violation of the federal AWA or state Game Code.
|Concerned Dog Owners of California v. City of Los Angeles||123 Cal.Rptr.3d 774 (Cal.App.2 Dist., 2011)||
Dog owners mounted a constitutional challenge to a Los Angeles municipal ordinance that required all dogs and cats within the city to be sterilized. The Court of Appeal held that the ordinance did not violate the owners’ freedom of association rights, free speech rights. or equal protection rights. The court held that it was not unconstitutionally vague, was not outside of the city's police powers, did not vest unfettered discretion in city officials, did not constitute an unconstitutional prior restraint or an unconstitutional taking. Finally, the law did not violate individual liberties under the California Constitution.
|Cottongame v. State||2014 WL 3536801 (Tex. App. 2014), unpublished||Despite an ordinance restricting the number of cats a person can own to three unless a permit was obtained, an officer decided not to enforce the ordinance against the appellant because she was helping with the feral-cat problem in the city and because “she was ... attempting to bring into compliance [her] animal rescue.” When the officer left his job, however, a neighbor complained and an investigation took place. The investigating officer noted everything in the house was covered in cat litter, there was no carpet in the home, and cat urine was on the living-room floor. The smell of cat urine and feces also sickened the officer to the point that he had to leave the house to get fresh air. The State filed a complaint alleging Appellant's violation of the ordinance. A jury found Appellant guilty of the offense as alleged in the complaint and assessed her punishment at $75 plus court costs. Appellant appealed from her conviction for violating a city ordinance regarding the number of animals that may be kept without a permit. In her first issue, the appellant asserted that her conviction violated the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because the city “selectively enforced its purported ordinance that prohibits any person from having possession of more than three cats without a permit.” The court, however, found that there was no evidence before the trial court indicating that appellant was singled out for enforcement or that her selection for enforcement was based on anything other than a valid citizen complaint. In her second issue, the appellant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. The court, however, found that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that the appellant was in violation of the ordinance. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.|
|Coy v. Ohio Veterinary Med. Licensing Bd.||2005 Ohio App. LEXIS 756||
A veterinarian's license was revoked by the Ohio Veterinarian Medical Licensing Board and the vet challenged the revocation of his license. The trial court found the vet guilty of gross incompetence and he appealed claiming there was no definition of gross incompetence in the statute. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court holding no specific definition was required.
|Dancy v. State||--- So.3d ----, 2020 WL 240457 (Miss. Jan. 16 , 2020)||The Justice Court of Union County found Michael Dancy guilty of three counts of animal cruelty and ordered the permanent forfeiture of Dancy’s six horses, four cats, and three dogs. Dancy appealed to the circuit court. The circuit court ordered that the animals be permanently forfeited and found Dancy guilty. The circuit court also ordered Dancy to pay $39,225 for care and boarding costs for the horses. Dancy subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court of Mississippi. Essentially, Dancy failed to provide adequate shelter, food, and water for the animals. The Court found that the circuit court properly released the animals to an animal protection organization. The Court also found that the reimbursement order was permissible. Two of Dancy’s three convictions were for violations of the same statute regarding simple cruelty, one for his four cats and one for his three dogs. The Court held that, according to the statute's plain language, Dancy’s cruelty to a combination of dogs and cats occurring at the same time "shall constitute a single offense." Thus, the State cannot punish Dancy twice for the same offense without violating his right against double jeopardy. For that reason, the court vacated Dancy’s second conviction of simple cruelty. The court affirmed the permanent forfeiture and reimbursement order and his other cruelty conviction.|
|Dart v Singer|| QCA 75||
The applicants pleaded guilty to a number of charges under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) following the seizure of 113 live dogs, one cat, 488 rats, 73 mice, 12 guinea pigs and 11 birds from their premises due to unsanitary and inappropriate living conditions. The applicants claimed that RSPCA officers were acting ultra vires and that a stay preventing the RSCPA from parting with the animals should be effected. The applicants' argument failed.
|DeLany v. Kriger||Slip Copy, 2019 WL 1307453 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 20, 2019)||This unpublished Tennessee case concerns a veterinary negligence action. The owners of a cat filed a wrongful death complaint against the cat's veterinarian and animal hospital after the cat was killed when the veterinarian wrongly placing a feeding tube into the cat's trachea rather than her esophagus, causing the cat to aspirate and die when she was fed through the tube. The trial court held that the defendants were not liable because the cat was so ill she was likely to die anyway, and thus dismissed the complaint. The cat was 10-years old when she was brought in because she was acting a "little slow" and had not eaten in a couple days. Through discovery and at trial, it was observed that the cat had a septic abscess on her liver with a 79% mortality rate. On appeal here, this court first took issue with the trial court's finding for causation in the negligence analysis. This court found that the evidence was "undisputed" that the cat died as a result of the improperly placed feeding tube, which was further supported by x-rays showing the feeding tube in the trachea rather than the esophagus. Because the trial court did not find causation, damages were not addressed. Here, the court noted that domestic pets are considered private property in Tennessee. The law is settled that a pet owner can recover for the wrongful death of his or her pet in the state. Further, Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-17-403 provides that a dog or cat owner is entitled to recover up to $5,000 in noneconomic damages for "the unlawful and intentional, or negligent, act of another or the animal of another . . ." but that no award of noneconomic damages is permitted in “an action for professional negligence against a licensed veterinarian.” While Mr. DeLany testified he considered the cat's fair market value at $5,000, another veterinarian joined as a defendant testified that a healthy cat has a value of around $75 and a sick cat has a value of $0.40. The appellate court stated that the calculation of damages is a matter for the fact-finder, and the case was remanded to the trial court to determine the appropriate amount of economic damages. This would include, but not be limited to, the medical bills incurred for Callie's treatment and the cost of replacing Callie, said the court.|
|Dixon v. State||455 S.W.3d 669 (Tex. App. 2014), petition for discretionary review refused (Apr. 29, 2015)||An owner of a non-profit cat sanctuary, which housed over 200 cats taken care of by one employee, was convicted by a jury of four counts of non-livestock animal cruelty. The trial court placed the owner under community supervision for five years' on each charge, to be served concurrently. In her first issue on appeal, the owner contended the evidence was legally insufficient to support her convictions. Based on evidence that the owner only had one employee to take care of the cats, however, the Texas court of appeals overruled this issue. In her second issue on appeal, the owner contended that the trial court erred by overruling her motion to dismiss the indictments where the State alleged a felony by commission of elements defined as a misdemeanor under the animal cruelty statute. On this issue, the court stated that it was true that the State had to prove that appellant failed to provide food, water, or care to the cats, but it also had to prove death or serious bodily injury to the cat that was committed in a cruel manner, i.e., by causing unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering. In other words, the failure to provide food, water, or care is the manner and means by which appellant killed the cats, causing them unjustified pain or suffering, which raised the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. The second issue was therefore affirmed. The appeals court also overruled the owner’s other issues and thereby affirmed the lower court’s ruling.|
|Douglas Furbee, et al. v. Gregory L. Wilson, et. al.||--- N.E.3d ----, 2020 WL 1503236 (Ind. Ct. App. Mar. 30, 2020)||Shelly Linder lived in an apartment complex with a no-pet policy. Linder asked if she could have an emotional-support animal and provided a letter from a licensed family and marriage therapist, which stated that Linder had a disability and required an emotional-support animal to help alleviate her symptoms. The letter did not identify a specific disability and the landlord subsequently requested more information from Linder. Linder did not provide any additional information and instead brought her cat into her apartment as her emotional-support animal. The landlord charged Linder a fine after discovering the cat on the premises and gave her seven days in which to remove the cat. Linder failed to comply which led to Linder’s eviction. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission filed a complaint against the landlord on behalf of Linder in Delaware Circuit Court alleging that the landlord failed to accommodate her request for an emotional-support animal in turn violating the Indiana Fair Housing Act. The trial court denied summary judgment for the landlord and this appeal followed. The landlord conceded that Linder was disabled and requested a reasonable accommodation, however, the landlord argued that it was not given enough information from which to “meaningfully” review Linder’s request. The Delaware Court of Appeals agreed that the Landlord did not have sufficient information to meaningfully review Linder’s request and because Linder did not inform the Landlord about her disability and her need for the cat, she was acting in bad faith. The Court ultimately reversed and remanded the case to the trial court.|
|Ducote v. Boleware||216 So. 3d 934 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2/17/16), writ denied, 2016-0636 (La. 5/20/16), 191 So. 3d 1071||This appeal arises from a personal injury lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Ducote, stemming from injuries she suffered as the result of a bite by defendant's cat. Plaintiff was walking down the sidewalk in New Orleans in the early evening when defendant's cat jumped on her left side and bit her hand causing injury. Plaintiff opted for the rabies immunoglobulin and the vaccine at the emergency room after defendant was unable to produce a rabies certificate (though the cat was later successfully quarantined). The trial court granted summary judgment upon motion for defendant and his homeowner's insurer. Plaintiff now appeals that decision. On appeal, the majority observed that liability of an animal owner (other than a dog) is provided by La. C.C. art. 2321, which gives a negligence standard based on knowledge of an animal's vicious propensities. The court found that there was no scienter on defendant's part as to the cat's dangerous nature (in fact, the cat was known to be a friendly cat with no previous incidents). Plaintiff suggests that liability should be based on a theory of negligence per se. Due to defendant's violation of city ordinances related to proof of rabies vaccination, he should be liable for damages. The court, however, rejected this, as Louisiana law does not recognize statutory negligence per se. Instead, in looking at negligence based on the set of facts, the court found plaintiff did not meet her burden. The trial court's decision was affirmed.|
|Feger v. Warwick Animal Shelter||29 A.D.3d 515 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept., 2006)||In this New York case, a cat owner brought suit against an animal shelter and its employee for their alleged misconduct in knowingly placing a champion cat stolen from her home for adoption by unidentified family. In ruling that the lower court properly denied the plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment, the appellate court found that there are questions of fact, inter alia , as to whether “Lucy” is “Kisses." However, the Shelter defendants are correct that the plaintiff may not recover damages for the emotional harm she allegedly suffered from the loss of her cat.|
|Finn v. Anderson||64 Misc. 3d 273, 101 N.Y.S.3d 825 (N.Y. City Ct. 2019)||This replevin action concerns ownership of an "indoor/outdoor" cat named "Sylvester" or "Marshmallow," depending on perspective. In September 2018, plaintiffs found an unidentified, thin, white cat hanging around their house looking for food. After several months of feeding the cat, in January 2019, plaintiffs decided to bring the cat inside and take it to a vet, where he was de-wormed, vaccinated, treated for fleas, microchipped, and dubbed "Sylvester." A few weeks later, Sylvester accidentally got out of plaintiff's house where plaintiff found out from a neighbor that the cat was taken back by the Defendant, who claimed that Sylvester is actually "Marshmallow" and had been plaintiff's indoor/outdoor cat since 2009. Plaintiff then filed a replevin action against defendant to recover legal possession of Sylvester, aka Marshmallow. The City Court, New York, Jamestown, Chautauqua County first noted that, regardless of how people feel about their dogs and cats, New York law treats them as personal property and even "chattel." While the court observed that the trend has been the "de-chattelization" of household pets in New York, it has not gone so far as to adopt a "best interests" standard to replace the superior possessory rights standard. The court noted that there is inherent difficulty in applying a best interests standard with pets because there is no practical way of gauging a pet's feelings and assessing its interests. The court further stated that New York Courts have developed a “quasi-interests based standard” for pets that considers highly subjective factors. Significantly, the court declared the following: "[w]hile it appears the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, has not addressed the issue, this Court concludes that it is time to declare that a pet should no longer be considered “personal property” like a table or car." Thus, using a "best for all concerned" articulated in Raymond v. Lachmann in 1999, this court weighed the factors whether to place Sylvester/Marshmallow with plaintiff or defendant based on the care provided by both parties. The court found, in a very close decision, that the “best interests of all concerned” test leaves the custody of the cat, Sylvester/Marshmallow, with the defendant. While the court was convinced that plaintiffs were genuinely concerned for Sylvester's/Marshmallow's welfare and spent time and money on his care, it appears that Sylvester/Marshmallow may have “voted with his feet” to return to his home of ten years with the defendant and her children. The Court found in favor of the defendant, and plaintiff's claim was dismissed.|
|Fiori v. Conway Org.||746 N.Y.S.2d 747 (2001)||
In this New York case, a customer brought a negligence action against the owner of a retail store after she was allegedly attacked by a stray cat while shopping at store. The owner of the store moved for summary judgment. The Civil Court of the City of New York, Bronx County, held that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the presence of a stray or feral cat in a retail store constituted a particular danger for unassuming visitors and/or customers whose presence on premises was foreseeable precluded summary judgment.
|Gaetjens v. City of Loves Park||4 F.4th 487 (7th Cir. 2021), reh'g denied (Aug. 12, 2021)||Plaintiff Gaetjens filed a § 1983 action against city, county, and various local government officials alleging that her Fourth Amendment rights were violated after officials entered and condemned her home and seized her 37 cats. Plaintiff was in the hospital at the time. Gaetjens lived in Loves Park, Illinois and bred cats in her home. On December 4, 2014, she visited her doctor and was told to go to the hospital because of high blood pressure. Later that day, the doctor could not locate Gaetjens, so she phoned Rosalie Eads (Gaetjens' neighbor who was listed as her emergency contact) to ask for help finding her. Eads called Gaetjens and knocked on her front door but got no response. The next day the neighbor could still not locate Gaetjens so Eads phoned the police from concern that Gaetjens might be experiencing a medical emergency. When police arrived, they asked Eads for Gaetjens key and entered the house. Intense odors of feces, urine, and a possibly decomposing body forced police back out of the home. The police called the fire department so that the home could be entered with breathing devices. While police did not find Gaetjens, they did find 37 cats. The house was ultimately condemned and animal control were able to impound the cats (except for four that died during or after impoundment). As it turns out, Gaetjens was at the hospital during this whole process. After learning of the impoundment, Gaetjens filed the instant action. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. On appeal here, the Seventh Circuit considered whether the warrantless entry into Gaetjens home was reasonable based on exigent circumstances. Relying on a recent SCOTUS case that found absence from regular church service or a repeated failure to answer a phone call supported an emergency exception for a warrant, the Court noted that the "litany of concerning circumstances" in the case at bar "more than provided" a reasonable basis for entry. As to Plaintiff's challenge to the condemnation, the court also found it too was supported by the expertise of officials at the scene. As to the confiscation of the cats, the court noted that previous cases support the warrantless seizure of animals when officials reasonably believe the animals to be in imminent danger. The court found the imminent danger to be plain due to condemnation order on the house from noxious fumes. While the use of the "cat grabber" did lead to an unfortunate death of one cat, the overall seizure tactics were necessary and reasonable. Thus, the Court affirmed the judgment of the district court.|
|Gerofsky v. Passaic County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals||870 A.2d 704 (N.J. 2005)||
The President of the New Jersey SPCA brought an action to have several county SPCA certificates of authority revoked. The county SPCAs brought a counterclaim alleging the revocation was beyond the state SPCA's statutory authority. The trial court revoked one county's certificate of authority, but the Court of Appeals held the revocation was an abuse of discretion.
|Giaconia v. Delaware County Soc. for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals||Slip Copy, 2008 WL 4442632 (E.D.Pa.)||
Plaintiff brought various claims against Defendants after Plaintiff’s cat was euthanized prior to the standard 72 hour waiting period. On Defendants’ motion to dismiss, the United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania found that Defendants were not acting under color of law. Because any and all claims for which the Court had original jurisdiction were being dismissed, the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s State law claims.
|Goldberger v. State Farm Fire and Casaulty Company||--- P.3d ----, 2019 WL 3792803 (Ariz. Ct. App. Aug. 13, 2019)||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.|
|Gonzalez v. South Texas Veterinary Associates, Inc.||2013 WL 6729873 (Tex. App. Dec. 19, 2013), review denied (May 16, 2014)||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.|
|Goodby v. Vetpharm, Inc.||974 A.2d 1269 (Vt.,2009)||
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.
|GOODWIN v. E. B. NELSON GROCERY CO.||132 N.E. 51 (Mass. 1921)||
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.
|Hemingway Home and Museum v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture||2006 WL 3747343 (S.D. Fla.)||
The plaintiff lived in Hemmingway's old property, a museum, with 53 polydactyl cats (cats having more than the usual number of toes). The United States Department of Agriculture investigated and said that the plaintiff needed to get an exhibitor's license to show the cats, but that was not possible unless the cats were enclosed. Plaintiff sued the government in order to avoid the $200 per cat per day fines assessed, but the court held that the government has sovereign immunity from being sued.
|IN RE: JAMES W. HICKEY, D/B/A S&S FARMS, AND S.S. FARMS, INC.||47 Agric. Dec. 840 (1988)||Licensed dealer found guilty of numerous violations of Act involving care and housing of dogs and cats, failure to allow inspection of records, and failure to keep and maintain adequate records as to acquisition and disposition of animals, is properly penalized with 25-year suspension of license, civil penalty of $40,000, and cease and desist order.|
|In the Matter of Kerlin||376 A.2d 939 (N.J.Super.A.D. 1977)||
Respondent Raymond Kerlin, D.V.M., appealed a decision of the Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs, Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (Board), finding him guilty of "gross malpractice or gross neglect" in the practice of veterinary medicine after an employee at his office (his wife) stated that the office could not treat a deathly ill kitten after the owners requested payment by credit (apparently not accepted at the office). In this case, the court observed nothing in the findings of facts to support a conclusion that respondent was aware of the exchange which occurred between the kitten’s owner and Mrs. Kerlin in time for him to have prevented the situation or to have taken remedial steps. Nothing adduced at trial proved that Dr. Kerlin followed the policy of rejecting requests for emergency treatment on credit. Thus, the court concluded that the State failed to establish that respondent was guilty of a violation or of conduct warranting disciplinary action for "gross malpractice", and the decision of the Board was reversed.
|In the Matter of the Application of Richard M. COPLAND, as an Executor of the estate of Lenore Lewis Abels, Deceased||988 N.Y.S.2d 458||Co-executor of an estate petitioned the Westchester County Surrogate's Court for a decree in accordance with EPTL 7–8.1[d] reducing the amount of money to be transferred from the estate to the trustees of a testamentary pet trust established under the decedent's will. Since the decedent gave very specific instructions as to how she wanted her cats to be cared for and the petition was in opposition to the decedent’s wishes, the court denied the reduction.|