Cats: Related Cases

Case name Citationsort ascending Summary
Matter of Ware --- P.3d ----, 2018 WL 3120370 (Wash. Ct. App. June 26, 2018) After the Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office's decided not to issue charges in an animal abuse case, two private citizens sought to independently initiate criminal charges. One person filed a petition for a citizen's complaint in district court and, after that was denied, another person filed a petition to summon a grand jury. On appeal, those appellants argue that the lower court erred in not granting their petitions. The animal cruelty claim stems from an incident in 2016, where a woman filed a report with police stating that a neighbor had killed her mother's cat by throwing a rock at the cat and stabbing it with a knife. Witnesses gave similar account of the abuse of the cat by the neighbor. The responding police officer then determined that there was probable cause to arrest the suspect for first degree animal cruelty. The officer found the cat's body and photographed the injuries, although the officer could not determine whether the cat had been stabbed. Subsequently, the prosecuting attorney's office declined to file charges because the actions related to the animal's death were unclear. Additionally, the cat's body was not collected at the scene to sustain a charge.
Madero v. Luffey --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 733766 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 13, 2020) Ronald Madero allegedly took care of abandoned cats in his neighborhood by giving them food, shelter, and occasional medical care. Madero lived in a duplex in which his son owned both halves of the building. A neighbor contacted Animal Care and Control (ACC) and complained about abandoned kittens in front of her residence. On or about June 15, 2017, Officer Christine Luffey of the Pittsburgh Police Department arrived at Madero’s residence with a non-officer volunteer, Mary Kay Gentert. Officer Luffey requested to inspect the inside of both sides of the duplex. Madero refused and Luffey claimed she had a search warrant. Madero believed that Gentert was present to assist with spay and neuter services for the cats and consented to allow Gentert to inspect the premises while Luffey waited outside. Gentert took photographs inside. Some time afterwards, Luffey executed a search warrant. Madero asserted that the information gathered and photographs taken by Gentert were used to obtain the search warrant. A total of forty-two cats were seized. Madero asserts that after the cats were seized the cats were left for hours on the hot concrete in direct sunlight with no water and that snare catch poles were used to strangle the cats and force them into carriers or traps. Madero further asserted that the cats were not provided with veterinary care for several weeks and were kept in small cages in a windowless room. Some of the cats were ultimately euthanized. On August 7, 2017, Officer Luffey filed a criminal complaint against Madero accusing him of five counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals and thirty-seven summary counts of cruelty to animals. Madero pled nolo contendere to twenty counts of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to ninety days of probation for each count with all twenty sentences to run consecutively. Madero filed a complaint asserting various causes of action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law alleging illegal search and wrongful seizure of the cats against Officer Luffey, Homeless Cat Management Team (“HCMT”), Provident, and Humane Animal Rescue (“HAR”). The defendants each filed Motions to Dismiss. Madero pled that the cats were abandoned or stray cats, however, he also pled that the cats were his property and evidenced this by pleading that he fed the cats and provided shelter as well as veterinary care. The Court found that Madero pled sufficient facts to support ownership of the cats to afford him the standing to maintain his claims under section 1983 and common law. The Court held that Madero pled a plausible claim against Luffey on all counts of his complaint. Madero alleged that Officer Luffey violated his Fourth Amendment rights by lying about having a search warrant and securing consent by threatening to bust his door down. As for Madero’s state law claims, the court dismissed his negligent misrepresentation claim against Luffey as well as his claims for concerted tortious conduct. Madero failed to plead a threshold color of state law claim against the HAR defendants. There can be no violation of constitutional rights without state action. Madero’s claims for conversion and trespass to chattel against the HAR defendants were also dismissed. All claims against Provident were dismissed, however, Madero’s claim against HCMT for conspiracy was able to proceed. The Court ultimately denied in part and granted in part Officer Luffey’s Motion to Dismiss, Granted HAR’s Motion to Dismiss, and denied in part and granted in part HCMT’s and Provident’s Motion to Dismiss.
Just Puppies, Inc. v. Frosh --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2020 WL 607026 (D. Md. Feb. 7, 2020) The State of Maryland passed a “No More Puppy-Mill Pups Act” which went into effect January 1, 2020. The Act prohibits retail pet stores in Maryland from offering for sale or otherwise transferring or disposing of cats or dogs. Four pet stores, a dog breeder, and a dog broker filed suit against Brian Frosh, the Attorney General of Maryland, the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Maryland Attorney General (CPD), the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee, and the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee seeking an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Act as well as a declaration that it is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Defendants were all entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment, unless an exception were to apply. Under the Ex parte Young exception “private citizens may sue state officials in their official capacities in federal court to obtain prospective relief from ongoing violations of federal law.” The CPD and Committee Defendants were not State officials and, therefore, they did not fall within the Ex parte Young exception. The Ex parte Young exception, however, applied to Mr. Frosh as he was the Attorney General of Maryland since he had some connection with the enforcement of the Act. In Counts I, II, and III, the Plaintiffs alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act violated the Constitution's Commerce Clause. The Court found that the Plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that the Act discriminated against out-of-state breeders and brokers in its text, in its effect, or in its purpose. Count IV alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act was preempted by the AWA. The Court found that prohibiting Maryland pet stores from selling dogs or cats had no effect on the operation of the AWA. The Puppy-Mill Act's impact on pet stores did not clash with the AWA, because pet stores were explicitly exempt from the AWA. Count V alleged that the Puppy-Mill Act deprived Plaintiffs of their constitutional right to the equal protection of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Court found no merit in this argument. Count VI asserted that the Act created a monopoly prohibited by Article 41 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. The Court found that the Puppy-Mill Act did not constitute an exclusive right to sell cats and dog in Maryland. Although the Act prohibited brick and mortar stores from participating in the sale of cats and dogs, consumers still had a plethora of choices when seeking to obtain a pet, including rescue shelters, animal control units, USDA licensed breeders and brokers, and unregulated hobby breeders. The Court ultimately dismissed all claims against the CPD and the Committee Defendants and allowed the claims against Brian Frosh to proceed.
Jackson v. Mateus 70 P.3d 78 (Utah 2003) Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant after she was bitten by the defendant’s cat and required medical attention as a result of the bite. Plaintiff found the defendant’s cat on her property and mistakenly started petting the cat, thinking that it was one of her own cats. As plaintiff was petting the cat, it bit her causing her injury. Plaintiff filed a negligence claim against defendant for not restraining the cat. The court held in favor of the defendant because the court found that this incident was not foreseeable and because it was not foreseeable, the defendant did not owe a duty to restrain the animal under the common law, municipal law, or state law.
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.

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