Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
Safari Club International v. Zinke 878 F.3d 316 (D.C. Cir. 2017) This case dealt with an action brought by an organization of safari hunters and firearm advocacy association under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS), challenging the decision to suspend imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered summary judgment in FWS's favor, and the organization and association appealed. Under the ESA, sport-hunted African elephant trophies may only be imported into the United States if, among other things, the FWS makes “[a] determination ... that the killing of the trophy animal will enhance the survival of the species”. The Court of Appeals held that 1) FWS's interpretation of Special Rule forbidding import of sport-hunted elephant trophies was permissible; 2) FWS could base finding that killing of African elephants did not enhance species' survival on absence of evidence that sport hunting enhanced survival of species; 3) FWS's conclusion that it lacked evidence to make finding that killing African elephants in Zimbabwe would enhance survival of species rebutted any presumption that importation did not violate any provision of ESA or regulation issued pursuant to ESA; 4) removal of enhancement requirement from Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora did not require FWS to reconsider Special Rule; 5) finding constituted rule rather than adjudication; and 6) FWS's failure to engage in notice-and-comment prior to finding was not harmless error. Affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded so the FWS can initiate rule making to address enhancement findings for the time periods at issue in this case.
Friends of Animals v. United States Fish & Wildlife Serv. 879 F.3d 1000 (9th Cir. 2018) Friends of Animals, a non-profit animal advocacy organization, sued the United States Fish and Wildlife Service when the Service began issuing permits that allowed the scientific taking of barred owls, both lethally and non-lethally, for the purpose of preserving the habitat of the northern spotted owl, a threatened species. The two species compete with each other in the same territory within Oregon and Northern California. Friends of Animals alleges that these permits are a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which limits the removal of birds from their habitat only for scientific purposes. The theory set forth by the plaintiff is referred to as the ‘same-species theory,’ meaning that the removal of a bird must be for the scientific purposes pertaining to the very species that was taken. This theory is based on language found in the Mexico Convention which is referenced in the MBTA. The lower court granted FWS' motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court, holding that the plain text of the MBTA and Mexico Convention do not demand the same-species theory in the removal of a bird. Specifically, the court concluded that the “used for scientific purposes” exception in Article II(A) of the Mexico Convention includes taking birds to study whether their absence benefits another protected bird species.
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Miami Seaquarium 879 F.3d 1142 (11th Cir. 2018) PETA, an animal rights organization, brought this action in July 2015 to enjoin the Miami Seaquarium. The injunction would force the marine park to relinquish possession of a killer whale, Lolita, by releasing her to a sea pen. The grounds for this injunction is an alleged violation of section 9(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act by the marine park when they confined the killer whale in such conditions that the confinement amounted to a taking of the endangered species of animal. PETA specifically alleged that the marine park took Lolita by harming and harassing her, citing thirteen different injuries that were directly caused by her confinement quarters. When Lolita’s species was recognized as an endangered species by the Act, it specifically excluded captive members of the species. Just two months prior to filing suit, PETA had successfully lobbied to have that exclusion removed from the listing, enabling the suit itself. The district court held for summary judgment in favor of the marine park, saying that to have taken an animal would require a grave threat or potential for a grave threat to the animal’s survival, and PETA did not provide evidence of conduct that met that standard. In this appeal, the court affirms the district court’s summary judgment, but disagrees with their standard for a taking of an animal. After lengthy analysis of the statutory language, this court lowers the standard to posing a threat of serious harm to the animal, rather than death of the animal. However, this court also holds that PETA did not prove that the Seaquarium’s confinement of Lolita met this standard either. Affirmed.
Bal Harbour Village v. Welsh 879 So.2d 1265 (Fl. 2004)

Defendant owned four dogs prior to the enactment of an ordinance prohibiting municipality residents from owning more than two dogs in one household.  The municipality brought suit against Defendant for failing to comply with the ordinance.  The trial court denied the municipalities prayer for permanent injunctive relief, but the Court of Appeals overruled the decision holding the ordinance could constitutionally be enforced under the police power to abate nuisance.

Carrasquillo v. Carlson 880 A.2d 904 (Conn.App., 2005)

A Connecticut motorist brought a negligence action against a dog owner, seeking to recover for personal injuries allegedly sustained when he took evasive action to avoid hitting dog.  The Superior Court, Judicial District of Waterbury, granted the dog owner's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Appellate Court held that the record was adequate for appellate review; the dog owner exercised reasonable control while walking dog; the statute allowing imposition of fine or imprisonment or both on owner of dog that interferes with motor vehicle did not apply; and the dog owner demonstrated that motorist would be unable to cure legal defects in complaint even if permitted to replead.

Slay v. Spell 882 So.2d 254 (Miss. 2004)

A slaughterhouse owner violated a Mississippi statute by failing to provide E. coli swab samples from hog carcasses for three weeks.  The Circuit Court found in favor of the Mississippi Department of Commerce and the Court of appeals affirmed the decision.

People v. Bergen 883 P.2d 532 (Col. Ct. App. Div. III 1994)

Defendant, a journalist, attempted to film a dogfight for an investigative story on dogfighting following the passage of a Denver ordinance forbidding the ownership of bull terriers (pitbulls).    Defendant videotaped two separate fights and dogs "training" by running on treadmills.  After the story aired, public outcry lead to a police investigation as to the source of the dogfighting footage, which lead to the arrest of the defendant and her cameramen for dogfighting and perjury.

People v. Larson 885 N.E.2d 363 (Ill.App. 2008) In December 2005, defendant Alan J. Larson was found guilty of possession of a firearm without a firearm owner's identification card and committing aggravated cruelty to an animal when he shot and killed the Larsons’ family dog Sinai in October 2004. Evidence included conflicting testimony among family members as to the disposition of the dog and whether he had a history of biting people, and a veterinarian who concluded that a gunshot to the brain was a conditionally acceptable method of euthanasia. Defendant appealed his conviction on the grounds that the aggravated-cruelty-to-an-animal statute was unconstitutionally vague because it fails to address how an owner could legally euthanize their own animal. The appellate court rejected this argument and affirmed defendant’s conviction.
Columbus v. Kim 886 N.E.2d 217 (Ohio, 2008)

An Ohio dog owner was convicted in the Municipal Court, Franklin County, of harboring an unreasonably loud or disturbing animal as prohibited by city ordinance. On appeal to the Supreme Court, the owner contended that the term “unreasonable” in the ordinance “does not provide enough explanation to allow the average person to know what behavior is permissible.” The Supreme Court held that the ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague on its face, and was not unconstitutionally vague as applied.

Bueckner v. Hamel 886 S.W.2d 368 (Tex. App. 1994).

Texas law allows persons to kill without liability dogs that are attacking domestic animals. However, the attack must be in progress, imminent, or recent. This defense does not apply to the killing of dogs that were chasing deer or non-domestic animals.

Claddie Savage v. Prator 886 So.2d 523 (La.App. 2 Cir. 2004)

A Parish Sheriff informed game clubs the parish ordinance against cockfighting would be enforced, despite the fact that cockfighting tournaments had been held at the game clubs since 1991.  The game clubs filed for and received a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the parish ordinance.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision.  Reversed by Savage v. Prator , 921 So.2d 51 (La., 2006).

Hebert v. Broussard 886 So.2d 666 (La.App. 3 Cir., 2004)

A dog that chased and pinned a man was shot by a police officer who had been called for assistance.  The dog owner instituted an action against the police officer, the police chief and the city.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the police officer, police chief and city, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision holding the police officer was entitled to statutory immunity.

Thompson v. Dover Downs, Inc. 887 A.2d 458 (Del.Supr.,2005)

Vernon Thompson appeals from a Superior Court order reversing a decision and order of the Delaware Human Relations Commission (DHRC) after Thompson was denied access to defendant's casino because Thompson insisted that his dog accompany him, but refused to answer the officials' inquiries about what his alleged support animal had been trained to perform. The DHRC determined that by denying access, Dover Downs had unlawfully discriminated against Thompson in violation of the Delaware Equal Accommodations Law. The Supreme Court here agreed with the Superior Court in reversing the DHRC. It found that Dover Downs' personnel were entitled to ask Thompson about his dog's training. Since Thompson refused to answer these questions, there is no rational basis to conclude that Dover Downs' refusal to admit Thompson accompanied was pretextual.

U.S. v. Thomas 887 F.2d 1341 (9th Cir. 1989)

The issue in this case is whether Edward A. Thomas, a Montana hunting guide and outfitter, may be found guilty of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act where the alleged object of the conspiracy was "to transport, receive and acquire elk in interstate commerce ... in violation of Montana state hunter's law."  The Court held that while a prosecution under the Lacey Act may not be sustained for the substantive acts of selling guiding services and hunting permits, an action can be maintained for conspiracies to violate the Act through these types of acts.  In this case, the underlying violations were acts of hunting with a transferred license or permit where the acts were allegedly committed by others.

Kuehl v. Sellner 887 F.3d 845 (8th Cir. Apr. 11, 2018) 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.
U.S. v. Jim 888 F. Supp. 1058 (D. Or. 1995)

Court considered defendant's claim based on newly enacted RFRA.  Court finds defendant's asserted need to kill 12 eagles a year would decimate eagle population in Oregon.  While not perfect, court finds the eagle permit system the least restrictive means to achieve the compelling need of protecting eagles.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

U.S. v. Cameron 888 F.2d 1279 (9th Cir. 1989)

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

Naruto v. Slater 888 F.3d 418 (9th Cir. Apr. 23, 2018) A seven-year-old monkey named Naruto that lived in a reserve on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia got ahold of a wildlife photographer’s unattended camera in 2011 and took several photos of himself. David Slater, the owner of the camera, and Wildlife Personalities, Ltd., (“Wildlife”) published the photos in a book that identifies Slater and Wildlife as the copyright owners of the photographs. In 2015 PETA and Dr. Engelhardt filed a complaint against Slater, Wildlife, and Blurb (the website that helped create the book) for copyright infringement on behalf of Naruto. The defendants filed motions to dismiss on the grounds that the complaint failed to state facts sufficient to establish standing under Article III or statutory standing under the Copyright Act. The district court granted the motions to dismiss. PETA and Dr. Engelhardt appealed on Naruto’s behalf. Dr. Engelhardt ended up withdrawing from the litigation, so PETA remained as the next friend of Naruto. The Court of Appeals held that PETA cannot validly assert a “next friend” status to represent Naruto because they failed to allege any facts to establish the required significant relationship between a next friend and a real party in interest and secondly an animal cannot be represented by a “next friend” under the laws of the United States. The Court pointed out, however, that lack of a next friend does not destroy an incompetent party’s standing entirely. “Article III standing does not compel a conclusion that a statutorily authorized suit in the name of an animal is not a case or controversy.” Based on precedent, the Court concluded that Naruto did not have standing to sue under the Copyright Act because the statute did not expressly state that animals have standing. The Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that held that Naruto and animals in general lack statutory standing to sue under the Copyright Act. The Court also awarded the defendants attorneys’ fees. Circuit Court Judge N.R. Smith wrote a concurring opinion agreeing that the case must be dismissed but disagreeing with the Majority’s conclusion that next friend standing is non-jurisdictional. Judge Smith stated that “the Majority ignores its own conclusion by determining that 1) next-friend standing is non-jurisdictional; and 2) even if the elements of next-friend standing are not met, any third party may still bring suit on behalf of anyone or anything – without the real party in interest’s permission – as long as the real party in interest has an Article III injury; and the real party in interest is adequately protected by the purported next friend’s (or self-appointed lawyer’s) representation. In his opinion, this fails to follow both Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent. Judge Smith further concludes that Supreme Court precedent bars next friend standing for animals because the scope of next friend standing is limited by historical practice and there is no historical evidence that animals have ever been granted authority to sue by next friend, absent an act of Congress. There is also no textual support in the habeas corpus statute or Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This is because only a natural person can have a habeas corpus petition filed on their behalf. Rule 17 only authorizes next friend suits on behalf of “a minor or an incompetent person.” The Majority’s conclusion that next friend standing is non-jurisdictional and, therefore, allowed the case to go forward is incorrect and is legally unsupportable by precedent. In his opinion, the case must be dismissed if there is no next friend standing and the Majority should have never reached the merits of the Copyright Act question. The question before the court was whether a third-party had next friend standing allowing it to invoke the authority of the court and stand in Naruto’s shoes to advance his claims. The question was not whether Naruto was properly protected or was brought into the litigation as a defendant.
Recchia v. City of Los Angeles Dep't of Animal Servs. 889 F.3d 553 (9th Cir. 2018) Petitioner Recchia sued the City of Los Angeles and animal control officers for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment and claims for state law tort violations. The claims arise from the 2011 warrantless seizure of Recchia's 20 birds (18 pigeons, one crow, and one seagull) kept in boxes and cages on the sidewalk where he lived (Recchia was homeless at the time). Animal control officers investigated Recchia after a complaint that a homeless man had birds at his campsite. Officers found cramped and dirty cages with several birds in "dire physical condition," although there is evidence the birds were in that condition before Recchia possessed them. After officers impounded the birds, a city veterinarian decided that all the pigeons needed to be euthanized due to concerns of pathogen transmission. Recchia discovered that the birds had been euthanized at his post-seizure hearing that was four days after impounded of the animals. At that hearing, the magistrate found the seizure was justified under the operative anti-neglect law (California Penal Code § 597.1(a)(1)). This § 1983 and state claim action followed. The district court adopted the magistrate judge's report and granted summary judgment for the defendants. On appeal, this court first examined whether the seizure of the healthy-looking birds was justified. The court held that hold that there was a genuine factual dispute about whether the healthy-looking birds posed any meaningful risk to other birds or humans at the time they were seized (it affirmed the dismissal as to the seizure of the birds that outwardly appeared sick/diseased). With regard to seizure of the birds without a pre-seizure hearing, the court applied the Matthews test to determine whether Recchia's rights were violated. Looking at the statute under which the birds were seized (Section 597.1), the court found that the law does afford adequate due process for Fourteenth Amendment purposes. As to other claims, the court granted Recchia permission to amend his complaint to challenge the city policy of not requiring a blood test before euthanizing the birds. The court also agreed with the lower court that the officers had discretionary immunity to state tort law claims of in seizing the animals. The district court's summary judgment was affirmed on Fourteenth Amendment and state tort claims against the officers, but vacated summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claims against the animal control officers and constitutional claims against the city.
People v. Johnson 889 N.W.2d 513 (2016), appeal denied, 500 Mich. 951, 891 N.W.2d 231 (2017) This case involves challenges to the courtroom procedure of allowing a witness to be accompanied on the witness stand by a support animal. Defendant Johnson appealed his convictions of criminal sexual assault after he was convicted of assaulting his six-year-old niece. During Defendant's trial, a black Labrador retriever was permitted, to accompany the six-year-old victim to the witness stand. On appeal, the Defendant first argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the use of a support animal because MCL 600.2163a(4) only allows a support person. The Court of Appeals of Michigan stated that the trial court had the inherent authority to utilize support animals. Secondly, the Defendant argued that trial counsel should have objected to the notice of a support person on the basis that allowing the witnesses to testify accompanied by the support animal violated his constitutional right to due process. The Court of Appeals stated that there is no indication that the support dog used was visible to the jury, or that he barked, growled, or otherwise interrupted the proceedings. Therefore, the objection was meritless. Next, the Defendant argued that his counsel was ineffective for failing to request various procedural protections if the support animal was used. The Court of Appeals stated that the use of a support dog did not implicate the Confrontation Clause; the presence of the dog did not affect the witnesses' competency to testify or affect the oath given to the witnesses; the witnesses were still subject to cross-examination; and the trier of fact was still afforded the unfettered opportunity to observe the witnesses' demeanor. Finally, the Defendant argued that a limiting instruction should have been provided to the jury when the support animal was utilized and this rendered his counsel ineffective. The Court of Appeals stated, that there are no Michigan jury instructions addressing the use of a support animal. Counsel was then not ineffective in failing to ask for an instruction that does not yet exist in Michigan. The Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant's convictions and sentence and remanded.
Smith v. City of New York 889 N.Y.S.2d 187 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,2009)

This New York appeal reversed the lower court's judgment finding Officer Smith strictly liable for dog-bite injuries sustained by infant plaintiffs. The court found that, in the limited time the officer spent with the dog, the dog acted friendly, playful, and "rambunctious." He did not see the dog growl or lunge at the plaintiff and her family, who were sitting in the precinct house. The testimony adduced at trial did not establish that Officer Smith knew or should have known of the dog's vicious propensities. Further, the court found the evidence was insufficient to show that Officer Smith owned the dog. Rather, he took temporary custody of the abandoned dog with the intention to transport him to the ASPCA, and the dog was in his possession for, at most, a few hours.

Pine v. State 889 S.W.2d 625 (Tex. App. 1994).

Mens rea in cruelty conviction may be inferred from circumstances. With regard to warrantless seizure, the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit seizure when there is a need to act immediately to protect and preserve life (i.e. "emergency doctrine").

Tennant v. Tabor 89 A.D.3d 1461 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept.., 2011)

Motorist collided with a horse and sued horse owners for damages. The Supreme Court held that, even if horse owners violated statute requiring them to provide shelter to horse, this did not constitute common-law negligence, which was required for damages. In addition, horse owners were not liable because there was no evidence that horse exhibited propensity to interfere with traffic prior to incident involving motorist.

Gilman v. Nevada State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners 89 P.3d 1000 (Nev. 2004)

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

State v. Hanson 89 P.3d 544 (Kansas, 2004)

Defendant's dogs were released by owner, resulting in their attack of a neighbor's dog and its subsequent death.  On appeal, the conviction was reversed for failure to show owner had knowledge of vicious propensity.

Hood River County v. Mazzara 89 P.3d1195 (Or. 2004)

In this Oregon case, the defendant appealed a conviction for violating Hood River County Ordinances (HRCO) under which the owner of a dog may not allow it "to become a public nuisance * * * " by "[d]isturb[ing] any person by frequent or prolonged noises[.]" (Her dog was reported to have barked for six straight hours.)  The defendant argued that the ordinances are invalid as applied to her because ORS 30.935 immunizes farm practices from the application of local government ordinances.  The defendant operated a farm with a herd of 60 cashmere and angora goats on land that bordered a national forest and used her dogs to keep predators at bay.  The Court of Appeals noted that once defendant raised the defense of the right to farm practice, the county had the burden of disproving it, which it failed to do.  Further, the trial court erred by disregarding uncontested facts that established defendant's immunity.

Tilbury v. State 890 S.W.2d 219 (Tex. App. 1994).

Cruelty conviction of defendant who shot and killed two domesticated dogs. Defendant knew dogs were domesticated because they lived nearby, had demeanor of pets, both wore collars, and had been previously seen by defendant.

Honeycutt v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. 890 So.2d 756 (2nd Cir. 2004)

A driver hit a cow standing in the road and the driver brought suit against the cow's owner and the owner's insurance agency.  The trial court held in favor of the driver and the Court of Appeals affirmed based upon the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Kansas State Fair Board 891 F.Supp.2d 1212 (D.Kan. 2012)

Upon being informed by the Kansas State Fair Board (KSFB) that it must shield a video depicting graphic images of animals being slaughtered, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sought a preliminary injunction in order to show the video at the Kansas State Fair. PETA argued the shield was unconstitutional. The KSFB sought a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds of Eleventh Amendment Immunity, that PETA lacked Article Three Standing, and that the defendant was not a section 1983 person. Both motions were denied by the district court.

Jurewicz v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 891 F.Supp.2d 147 (D.D.C, 2012)

Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the United States Humane Society requested that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) disclose a certain Animal Welfare Act form. Arguing that two FOIA exemptions prevented the USDA from releasing certain information on this form (the number of dogs that they buy and sell each year and their annual revenue from dog sales), three Missouri dog breeders and dealers sought to prevent this information’s disclosure. After finding that the public interests in disclosing the information outweighed the privacy concerns for the breeders, the district court granted the USDA's and the U.S. Humane Society's motion for summary judgment.    

Murrell v. Hooter 892 So.2d 680 (5th Cir., 2004)

A champion jumping horse was struck and killed by a van after escaping through an open gate.  The horse owner sued the property owners for negligence and the trial court granted defendants' summary judgment.  The Court of Appeals reversed the decision holding the defendants were not entitled to immunity under the Equine Immunity Statute.

Terral v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co. 892 So.2d 732 (La.,2005)

A motorcyclist hit a dog wandering on the road and sued the defendant under strict liability theory. The court found that the defendant was strictly liable because he owned the dog in fact. Although the dog was originally a stray, the court upheld a finding of ownership because the defendant regularly fed the dog and harbored it on his property.  

United States v. Charette 893 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir., 2018) Defendant Charette was convicted by bench trial of taking a grizzly bear behind his home in Montana in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. On appeal, defendant challenges his conviction on three grounds: (1) there was insufficient evidence to infer that he did not have a permit to take the grizzly bear; (2) his request for a jury trial was improperly denied; and (3) the lower court incorrectly analyzed his self-defense claim under an objective standard as opposed to the correct subjective standard. On appeal here, the court observed that the plain language of the ESA and legislative history makes it clear that permits and exceptions under the ESA are affirmative defenses, and not elements of the crime. In this case, Charette had the burden of proving the existence of a valid permit, which he did not do at trial. The court also quickly dispensed with the Sixth Amendment jury trial issue, finding that the taking of a grizzly bear is a petty offense. As to defendant's last argument on his self-defense claim, this court did find that the trial court erred in applying an objectively reasonable standard. This error was not harmless because it affected defendant's decision to testify as to his subjective belief in the need for self-defense. As a result, this court reversed the district court's decision, vacated defendant's conviction, and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Alaimo v. Racetrack at Evangeline Downs, Inc. 893 So.2d 190 (3rd Cir., 2005)

A racehorse breeder  and owner brought suit against a racetrack for the loss of future winnings after a racehorse collided with a negligently maintained gate on the racetrack.  The trial court awarded plaintiff $38,000 without specifying what the award was for.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision holding the award was not unreasonable based on the horse's racing history.

Auster v. Norwalk United Methodist Church 894 A.2d 329 (Conn.App., 2006)

The plaintiff, Virginia Auster, brought this action pursuant to General Statutes § 22-357FN1 to recover damages for personal injuries alleged to have been caused by the dog of an employee of the defendant, Norwalk United Methodist Church.  Ms. Auster was a visitor who was on the premises to attend a meeting in the parish house when she was bitten by dog of church employee, who lived in an apartment in the parish house.  After a jury trial, the verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed.  (See summary judgment appeal, 2004 WL 423189).  The Appellate Court held that church was not a “keeper” of the church employee's dog for purposes of statute which imposed strict liability on the keeper of any dog that did damage to the body or property of any person.  The court reversed the judgment and remanded the action for a new trial on the issue of common-law negligence

Ward v. Hartley 895 A.2d 1111 (Md.App., 2006)

In this Maryland case, a dog bite victim filed a negligence and strict liability action against the dog owners and their landlords.  In plaintiff's appeal of the trial court's granting of defendant's motion for summary judgment, the appellate court held that the landlords had no control over the premises where the "dangerous or defective condition" existed and thus had no duty to inspect.  The court found that first, no statute, principle of common law, or provision in the lease imposed upon the landlord the duty to inspect the leased premises to see if a vicious animal was being kept.  Second, there was no evidence presented that, at the time the lease was signed by the landlord, he knew, or would have had any way of knowing, that a vicious animal was to be kept on the premises.

Stauber v. Shalala 895 F.Supp. 1178 (W.D.Wis.,1995)

Court found that milk consumers failed to prove that milk gained from rBST-treated cows contains higher levels of antibiotics, tastes different, or differs in any noticeable way from "ordinary" milk. That consumers might demand mandatory labeling was not enough to require labeling; rather, the FDA was required to ensure that products are not misbranded and consumer demand could not require the FDA to forgo this duty.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Bobby Berosini, Ltd. 895 P.2d 1269 (Nev.,1995)

In this Nevada case, respondent Berosini claimed that two animal rights organizations, PETA and Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and three individuals defamed him and invaded his privacy. The trial court entered judgment on jury verdicts on the libel and invasion of privacy claims in the aggregate amount of $4.2 million. On appeal, this Court concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict and reversed the judgment. The court found that the videotapes of Berosini beating his animal performers before the show was not libelous because they were not false or defamatory. The videotape was not “false” because it was an accurate portrayal of the manner in which Berosini disciplined his animals backstage before performances and it was not not defamatory because Berosini took the position that the shaking, punching, and beating that appear on the tape were necessary, appropriate and “justified” for the training, discipline, and control of show animals. With regard to his invasion of privacy claims, the videotaping did not invade the scope of Berosini's expectation of privacy because his asserted expectation was "freedom from distracting intrusion and interference with his animals and his pre-act disciplinary procedures." Thus, the filming did not intrude upon Berosini's expected seclusion.

Daul v. Meckus 897 F. Supp 606 (D.C. 1995)

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, has brought this Bivens action seeking to hold government agents liable in their individual capacities for alleged constitutional violations under the AWA. Plaintiff lost his Class A license of a dealer under the AWA, due to failure to submit the required license fee and annual report.  The court held that, even construing plaintiff's allegations in the light most favorable to him, Mr. Daul appears merely to allege without proof that each of these defendants exceeded the scope of his authority.  Thus, plaintiff's conclusory allegations failed to show that any defendant violated any clearly established constitutional or statutory right.  The named defendants from the USDA were also granted both absolute and qualified immunity in the decision.

U.S. v. Williams 898 F.2d 727 (9th Cir. 1990)

Kenneth Ray Williams appealed his conviction for the illegal hunting of moose in violation of the Lacey Act. Williams claimed that his conviction should be overturned because the government failed to establish the validity of use of the wildlife law against a tribe member. The United States argued that there is no need for the government to establish the validity of the law's use against a tribe member.  The court affirmed the conviction and held that the government must establish the validity of the use of wildlife laws against tribe members but that similar laws enacted by the tribe can establish this validity.

Leith v. Frost 899 N.E.2d 635 (Ill.App. 4 Dist.,2008) In this Illinois case, plaintiffs, Mark and Mindy Leith, sued defendant, Andrew E. Frost, for tortious damage to their personal property, a dachshund named Molly. The trial court found in plaintiffs' favor with an award of $200, Molly's fair market value, rather than the $4,784 in veterinary expenses. While the court recognized fair market value is the traditional ceiling for damage to personal property, Illinois courts have held that certain items of personal property (heirlooms, photographs, pets, etc.) have no market value. Thus, the basis for assessing compensatory damages in such a case is to determine the actual value to the plaintiff beyond nominal damages. Adopting the rationale of the Kansas Court of Appeals in Burgess v. Shampooch Pet Industries, Inc., t his Court found that Mollly's worth to plaintiffs was established by the $4,784 plaintiffs paid for the dog's veterinary care.
American Bald Eagle v. Bhatti 9 F.3d 163 (Mass.,1993)
A group of animal preservationists filed suit to enjoin deer hunting on a Massachusetts reservation because it contended that the activity posed such a risk to bald eagles so as to constitute a prohibited “taking” under the ESA. The essence of the plaintiff's argument was that some of the deer shot by hunters would not be recovered and then eagles would consume these deer thereby ingesting the harmful lead slugs from the ammunition. The district court denied the preliminary injunction, ruling that appellants failed to show a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. On appeal of the denial for injunction, this Court held that plaintiff failed to meet the showing of actual harm under the ESA. There was no showing in the record of harm to any bald eagles during the deer hunt of 1991 and the record fully supported the trial judge's conclusion.
State v. Devon D. 90 A.3d 383 (Conn.App, 2014) The defendant, Devon D., appeals from the judgments of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of eleven offenses, in three separate files with three different docket numbers, pursuant to three separate informations, involving three different victims. Devon asserted that the prosecution as to the charges concerning C1 should have been separated from the charges as to C2 and C3, and that the evidence from C1’s case should not have been cross-admissible as to C2 and C3, an argument the Connecticut Appellate Court accepted as justifying reversal. Devon also argued on appeal that “the court improperly permitted the state to have a dog sit near C1 while she testified to provide comfort and support to her.” The appellate court concluded that the trial court had abused its discretion in permitting the use of the dog to comfort and emotionally support C1 while she testified without requiring the state to prove that this special procedure was necessary for this witness. At trial, defense counsel specifically told the trial court he was not making a confrontation clause claim as to the presence of the dog, and the appellate court therefore considered such a claim waived. Despite the absence of statutory authority for permitting a facility dog, the appellate court did conclude that the trial court had “inherent general discretionary authority” to permit such a dog, but also determined that this discretion was abused under the facts of the case. The judgments are reversed and the cases are remanded for new trials.
United States of America v. Victor Bernal and Eduardo Berges 90 F.3d 465 (11th Cir. 1996)

Victor Bernal and Eduardo Berges were convicted of various crimes in connection with an attempt to export two endangered primates--an orangutan and a gorilla--from the United States to Mexico in violation of the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  While the main issue before the court was a downward departure in sentencing guidelines, the court found the purpose of the Lacey Act is protect those species whose continued existence is presently threatened by gradually drying up international market for endangered species, thus reducing the poaching of those species in their native countries.

Hanrahan v. Hometown America, LLC 90 So.3d 915 (Fla.App. 4 Dist.)

While walking his dog one evening, the plaintiff's husband was attacked by fire ants. In an attempt to remove the ants off his person, the plaintiff's husband collapsed in the shower. Two days later, he died. As a representative for her husband's estate and in her own capacity, the plaintiff filed a negligence suit against her landlord. After the trial court granted the landlord's motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff appealed. Affirming the lower court's decision, the appeals court reasoned that since the landlord did not harbor, possess, or introduce the fire ants onto the premises, the landlord owed no duty to the plaintiff.

Berardelli v. Allied Services Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine 900 F.3d 104 (3d Cir., 2018) This case presents an issue of first impression in the Court of Appeals: whether regulations on service animals, which technically apply only to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), require that individuals with disabilities be allowed to be accompanied by their service animals under the Rehabilitation Act (RA). The facts involve an elementary student with dyslexia and epilepsy who sought to be accompanied by her service dog to school. The dog was trained to respond to her epileptic seizures and was recommended by her pediatric neurologist. The student was attending a new school after having attended a different school with her service animal who recently died. After receiving a new service animal (after being placed on a waiting list), the principal of the new school refused access for the service animal, asserting for the first time that the dog was "too much of a distraction." As a consequence of the denial, the student missed school when her seizures were too severe. After more than a year of disrupted attendance, the student's mother sought to have the seizure alert dog accompany the child to fifth grade, and the principal said he would "look into" it. Frustrated with the equivocation, the mother attempted to bring the service animal with the child and the principal prevented entrance, now saying another child had an allergy to dogs. Eventually, the dog was allowed to accompany the child with a "therapeutic shirt designed to decrease allergens," but the shirt interfered with the service animal's performance of disability-related tasks. In the end, the mother withdrew the child from this particular school. The child's parent subsequently sued the school, arguing that the school had failed to accommodate the child under Section 504 of the RA. The school moved for summary judgment on all claims. Important to the claim of discrimination under the RA, the District Court instructed the jury that on a claim for failure to accommodate, the plaintiff needed to prove that that the requested accommodations were reasonable and necessary to avoid discrimination based on disability. The jury was confused at the instructions and the child's attorney urged the court to instruct the jury on ADA service animal regulations. The Court refused saying it had “g[iven] them the law that relates to this case” and would not “go look for some new law to tell them about or some different law or something that’s not been already submitted or given to them.” The jury subsequently returned a verdict for the school. On appeal here, appellants argue that, because the subjective standards for liability under the RA and ADA are the same, the service animal regulations of the ADA should apply to the RA. The Court of Appeals first examined the history and relationship of the ADA and its precursor, the RA. Based on the overarching goal of both laws - to ensure equal opportunity and inclusion - the requirements of reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications are inextricably intertwined. Regardless of the differing entities the statutes cover, they both impose the same liability standard based on this concept of "reasonableness." The Court also found this echoed in case law dealing with a failure to accommodate under both laws. As to the service animal regulations under the ADA, the Court held that, logically, the service animal regulations are relevant to the RA even though they technically interpret the ADA. This is supported by agency guidance in other contexts from HUD, the Dept. of Justice, and the Dept. of Labor. The Court found the school's counter arguments unpersuasive especially considering the legal principle that an anti-discrimination statute like the RA must be interpreted broadly to carry out its broad remedial purpose. In essence, the Court now holds that a covered actor must accommodate the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability under the RA just as it must do under the ADA. While the "reasonableness" of that accommodation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, the request to be accompanied by a service animal is per se reasonable. Applying that holding to these facts, the Court found that the District Court did not correctly instruct the jury on the relevant law. The error was not harmless, and, despite the school's claim, there was not a high probability that the jury would have ruled in its favor if properly instructed. The judgment was vacated on the RA claim, reversed on the dismissal of the state discrimination claim, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
In re Tavalario 901 A.2d 963 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2006)

This appeal presents a challenge by Anthony Tavalario to the manner in which the State Agricultural Development Committee (SADC) determines whether keeping horses on property constitutes a "commercial" agricultural operation that exempts the property from local zoning and other land use restrictions as the result of the preemptive force of the Right to Farm Act, N.J.S.A. 4:1C-1 to -10.4. The SADC found that Tavalario's use of the land did not qualify for protection under the Act, because he could not demonstrate that, as of July 3, 1998, his operation produced "agricultural or horticultural products worth $2,500 or more annually" as required by the definitional section of the Act. Tavalario contends on appeal that the SADC erred because it failed to consider as income in 1998 uncollected stud fees, the imputed value of a horse sold as a broodmare in 2002 for $8,000 and another horse sold in 2003 for $5,400, and race winnings of an undisclosed amount allegedly awarded at an unspecified time after 1998. The court found no grounds for reversal of the SADC's interpretation of the production requirements of the definition of "commercial farm" found in N.J.S.A. 4:1C-3 or its application to Tavalario's case.

Velzen v. Grand Valley State University 902 F.Supp.2d 1038(W.D. Mich. 2012) On March 30, 2012, Plaintiff and the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan (“FHCWM”) brought suit against Defendants, a university, alleging unlawful discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), Federal Rehabilitation Act, and Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (“PWDCRA”), for denying Plaintiff’s request to keep an emotional support animal in on-campus housing. All claims brought against the individual defendants were brought against them in their official capacities as university administrators. Plaintiffs sought both injunctive and compensatory relief. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and 12(b)(6), failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The District Court decided the following would be dismissed: (1) all claims under the PWDCRA against all defendants; (2) all claims for compensatory damages under the FHA brought against all defendants; (3) all claims for injunctive relief under the FHA brought against the institutional defendants; (4) all claims for relief under the Rehabilitation Act by the FHCWM; and (5) all claims for relief under the Rehabilitation Act by Plaintiff that depended on disparate treatment. The following claims remained: (1) Plaintiff and the FHCWM's claims under the FHA seeking injunctive relief from the individual defendants; and (2) Plaintiff's claims against all defendants for compensatory damages and injunctive relief under the Rehabilitation Act pursuant to the failure to accommodate theory.
Com. v. Erickson 905 N.E.2d 127 (Mass.App.Ct.,2009)

In this Massachusetts case, the defendant was found guilty of six counts of animal cruelty involving one dog and five cats after a bench trial. On appeal, defendant challenged the warrantless entry into her apartment and argued that the judge erred when he failed to grant her motion to suppress the evidence gathered in the search. The Court of Appeals found no error where the search was justified under the "emergency exception" to the warrant requirement. The court found that the officer was justified to enter where the smell emanating from the apartment led him to believe that someone might be dead inside. The court was not persuaded by defendant's argument that, once the officer saw the dog feces covering the apartment that was the source of the smell, it was then objectively unreasonable for him to conclude the smell was caused by a dead body. "The argument ignores the reality that there were in fact dead bodies in the apartment, not merely dog feces, to say nothing of the additional odor caused by the blood, cat urine, and cat feces that were also found."

Hawaiian Crow (‘Alala) v. Lujan 906 F.Supp. 549 (D.Hawai‘i,1991)

Defendants (USFWS and rancher owners) filed a motion to dismiss the 'Alala bird and strike its name from the plaintiffs' complaint as well a motion for Rule 11 sanctions. The District Court held that, as a matter of first impression, the endangered 'Alala bird was not a 'person' within the meaning of the Endangered Species Act's (ESA) citizen suit provision. However, the Court declined to impose Rule 11 sanctions on the ground that plaintiffs' counsel acted improperly in filing a complaint that named the ‘Alala  as a party, finding that there is no evidence plaintiffs named the ‘Alala for an improper purpose. Defendant's motion for a more definite statement was granted to provide greater specificity to pinpoint those areas within the essential habitat locations that may be affected.

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