Federal Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
LaRosa v. River Quarry Apartments, LLC Slip Copy, 2019 WL 3538951 (D. Idaho Aug. 3, 2019) Plaintiffs, Robert and Iva LaRosa filed this action in August of 2018, alleging that the defendants violated their rights under the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"). The Court dismissed the complaint and the Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. The Plaintiffs had applied to live at River Quarry Apartments in August of 2017. They requested a reasonable accommodation to keep their dog at the apartment without paying a fee. The Plaintiffs provided a copy of a note from a nurse practitioner stating that the companion dog helps manage Mr. LaRosa’s post-traumatic stress disorder. The Plaintiffs were approved for the apartment but told that their reasonable accommodation request was still being processed and received forms to fill out regarding the reasonable accommodation. River Quarry required Mr. LaRose’s doctor to fill out a form verifying the need for an assistance animal. Rather than completing the form, the plaintiffs provided a letter from Mr. LaRosa’s primary care physician which stated that in the doctor’s opinion, an emotional support animal would help mitigate the symptoms that Mr. LaRose was experiencing. River Quarry insisted on speaking with Mr. LaRose’s doctor directly to verify the information that the plaintiffs had given. After Kirk Cullimore, an attorney on behalf of River Quarry, spoke with the doctor, River Quarry wrote a letter to the Plaintiffs denying their request for a reasonable accommodation stating that the doctor declined to verify that Mr. LaRosa met the two prong test that one must be handicapped and there must be a nexus between the handicap and the need for the animal. Soon after this, Mr. LaRosa saw his primary care physician and had the actual form completed by his doctor and turned it in to River Quarry. Kirk Cullimore believed that the doctor’s signature on the form was forged and called Mr. LaRose’s doctor to speak with him again. The doctor’s secretary informed Cullimore that the signature was genuine. Mr. and Mrs. LaRosa argued that they were injured by the discrimination of the Defendants in violation of the FHA. The Court denied the Plaintiffs claim under the FHA because they did not sufficiently allege that the Defendants refused to make the requested accommodation. River Quarry allowed the dog to stay in the apartment while their request for an accommodation was reviewed. The Court stated that housing providers are granted a meaningful opportunity to investigate a request for an accommodation. Housing providers do not have to immediately approve a request for an accommodation right away. River Quarry ended up approving the request within 45 days after the initial request. The Court held that this was not an unreasonable delay considering that River Quarry did not have sufficient information to make a determination until after Mr. LaRosa’s doctor completed the verification form. Prior to that the doctor’s letter and the phone call between Cullimore and the doctor did not reveal enough information for River Quarry to make a determination on the accommodation. The Plaintiffs, however, succeeded on their interference claim. The LaRosas were engaged in a protected activity when they applied for a reasonable accommodation and they sufficiently alleged that they were subjected to adverse action and that a causal link existed between the protected activity and the adverse action. The Defendants misrepresented the contents of Mr. Cullimore and Mr. LaRosa’s doctor’s conversation. The Court ultimately denied in part and granted in part the Defendant’s motion to dismiss and denied in part and granted in part the motion to dismiss claims against Kirk Cullimore and his law office.
Lawson v. Pennsylvania SPCA 124 F. Supp. 3d 394 (E.D. Pa. 2015) Upon an investigation of numerous complaints, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty obtained a warrant and searched plaintiffs’ house. As a result, plaintiffs were charged with over a hundred counts that were later withdrawn. Plaintiffs then filed the present case, asserting violations of their federal constitutional rights, as well as various state-law tort claims. Defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming qualified immunity. The district court granted the motion in part as to: (1) false arrest/false imprisonment, malicious prosecution of one plaintiff and as to 134 of the charges against another plaintiff, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and invasion of privacy; and (2) to the following claims in Count One: verbal abuse, security of person and property, false arrest/false imprisonment, due process and equal protection, and failure to train or discipline as the result of a policy or custom. The District Court denied the motion with respect to (1) the following claim in Count One: unreasonable search and seizure and the individual defendants' request for qualified immunity in connection with that claim; and (2) with respect to one plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim, but only to the charge relating to the puppy's facial injuries.
Lawton v. Steele 14 S.Ct. 499 (1894)

Plaintiffs sued defendant fish and game protectors to recover damages for the loss of their seized fishing nets.  At issue was the New York statute that prohibited fishing in the area where plaintiffs were fishing and proscribed seizure of fishing gear used in violation of the statute.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that such a statute is a constitutional exercise of state police power, as the protection of fish and game has always been within the proper domain of police power.  Further, the court found the legislature acted properly in providing a seizure component to the statute to control what it termed a "public nuisance." 

LEE ROACH AND ROACH LABORATORIES, INC. 51 Agric. Dec. 252 (1992) Company which produces antiserum for medical diagnostic tests by injecting rabbits and other live animals with antigens and then extracting their blood is research facility within meaning of Act.
Lesher v. Reed 12 F.3d 148 (8th Cir. 1994)

Seizure of pet dog violated Fourth Amendment where police acted unreasonably in going to canine police officer's house to seize the dog after the dog bit a child.

Lesser v. Epsy 34 F.3d 1301 (7th Cir. 1994) Owner had a rabbitry, and the rabbits were sold for scientific research.   Inspection of the rabbitry without a warrant occurred, and Owner claimed that his constitutional rights were violated.   Search without a warrant was appropriate because any deficiencies could have been easily concealed if notice of a search was provided to the Owner.  
Levine v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation 80 F. Supp. 3d 29 (D.D.C. 2015) This action arose from plaintiff’s experience of bringing her service dog on Amtrak trains. Plaintiff brought claims on her own behalf and on behalf of a putative class of other disabled passengers against Amtrak pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. Each claim related to Amtrak′s alleged practice of storing luggage in its train's “mobility aid” seating areas. Amtrak argued, amongst other things, that plaintiff lacked Article III Constitutional Standing because she had not suffered an injury in fact. The district court agreed and granted Amtrak′s motion to dismiss. The case was dismissed in its entirety.
Levine v. Vilsack 587 F.3d 986 (C.A.9 (Cal.),2009)

Animal advocates filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) challenging the USDA's interpretive rule excluding chickens, turkeys, and other domestic fowl from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA).  The United States District Court for the Ninth District of California had entered summary judgment in favor of the Secretary of the USDA and the Plaintiffs appealed.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Plaintiffs-Appellants lacked standing to challenge the USDA's interpretive rule and vacated and remanded the case to the district court. 

Longhi v. APHIS 165 F3d 1057 (6th Cir. 1999)

APHIS was unsuccessful in asserting that an applicant who is part of one license as a partnership can not apply for another as a corporation.

Los Altos Boots v. Bonta Slip Copy, 2021 WL 5234864 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 10, 2021) This unpublished California case considers the application of the recently amended statute (Penal Code section 653o), which makes it "unlawful to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of an iguana, skink, caiman, hippopotamus, or a Teju, Ring, or Nile lizard" beginning January 1, 2022. The instant case concerns the importation of some caiman products. The businesses bringing the suit seek the enjoin the caiman prohibition while the lawsuit is pending. While the state contends that the plaintiffs lack standing because the claim is unripe, the court found the three-part standing test was satisfied. The court also found that the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction was justified where plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits, the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable economic harm if section 653o goes into effect on January 1st that cannot not be mitigated by damages, and the balance of harms favors plaintiffs. Specifically, the court found that section 653o will create a "clear conflict between that section and the Endangered Species Act" and plaintiffs have demonstrated a serious harm to their businesses. The court declined to "wade into a policy dispute "whether California's or the United States’ wildlife protections are superior." The motion for a preliminary injunction was granted. The defendants, their employees, agents, and successors in office are enjoined from enforcing California Penal Code sections 653o(c) and 653r in connection with the importation, possession, or sale of caiman bodies, parts, or products until the final disposition of this case.
Lowry v. City of San Diego 818 F.3d 840 (9th Cir. Apr. 1, 2016) Plaintiff in this case filed suit against the City of San Diego after she was attacked and bit by one of the police dogs. Lowry alleged that the City’s policy of training its police dogs to “bite and hold” individuals resulted in a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizures. The court remanded the case back to the lower court, holding that a reasonable jury could find that the use of the police dog against Lowry was an intrusion on her Fourth Amendment rights. The court maintained that the officers had reason to believe that letting the dog into Lowry’s office “off-lead” had the potential of creating severe harm. The court also noted that Lowry was not attempting to evade or resist arrest and therefore letting the dog “off-lead” may not have been reasonable. Reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife 504 U.S. 555 (1992)

Respondents filed suit challenging the new regulation under the ESA that limited the jurisdiction to the U.S. and the high seas.  While the case, was remanded the central issue to this case was whether respondents had standing to challenge the ruling.

Lunon v. Botsford --- F.3d ----, 2019 WL 7198501 (8th Cir. Dec. 27, 2019) Lunon had a German Shephard as a breed dog, named Bibi, which had gotten loose and was turned into the local animal shelter. The animal control officer failed to scan the dog for a microchip. After five days at the animal shelter, Bibi was sterilized and adopted out. Lunon was able to recover his dog through a replevin action, however, Lunon claimed that his fourteenth amendment right to procedural due process was violated when Bibi was spayed and adopted out without providing pre-deprivation notice and an opportunity for Lunon to be heard. Lunon filed suit against the animal control officer, two directors of the animal shelter in Pulaski County, the city of North Little Rock, Pulaski County, the Pulaski County Animal Shelter, and the North Little Rock Animal Shelter. The defendants removed the case to federal court and sought summary judgment. The district court did not grant summary judgment and the defendants appealed. The Court found that the animal control officer picking up Bibi and delivering her to the animal shelter did not deprive Lunon of a protected property interest. There is no constitutional duty for an animal control officer to scan a stray dog for a microchip. Therefore, the animal control officer was not liable. The public officials that participated in this action were all protected under governmental immunity because Lunon failed to demonstrate that each individual defendant violated his constitutional right to due process. The Court ultimately reversed the order of the district court and remanded with directions to enter judgment dismissing those claims with prejudice.
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.
Mahtani v. Wyeth Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2011 WL 2609857 (D.N.J.)

After some plaintiffs alleged their dogs suffered harmed as a result of using a tick and flea treatment medication, while others alleged the product was ineffective, plaintiffs sought to gain class certification in their lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company. Since the district court found that individual inquiry into questions of fact predominated over inquiry into facts common to class members regarding the plaintiffs’ New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, Unjust Enrichment and Breach of Warranty claims, the plaintiff’s motion for class certification was denied.

Maine v. Taylor 106 S.Ct. 2440 (1986)

Appellee bait dealer (appellee) arranged to have live baitfish imported into Maine, despite a Maine statute prohibiting such importation. He was indicted under a federal statute making it a federal crime to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law. He moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the Maine statute unconstitutionally burdened interstate commerce.  The Court held that the ban did not violate the commerce clause in that it served legitimate local purpose, i.e., protecting native fisheries from parasitic infection and adulteration by non-native species, that could not adequately be served by available nondiscriminatory alternatives.

Majors v. Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb Georgia 652 F.2d 454 (5th Cir. 1981)

Tenant had a history of mental illness and kept a dog in her apartment despite a "no pets" policy. The housing authority refused to waive the "no pets" policy and brought an eviction proceeding. Tenant filed a complaint in federal district court alleging violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act for failure to waive the "no pets" policy as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. The district court granted the housing authority's motion for summary judgment and the tenant appealed. The court of appeals held that the housing authority deprived the tenant of the benefits of the housing program by enforcing the no pets rule, reasoning that waiving the no pets rule would allow the tenant to fully enjoy the benefits of the program and would place no undue burdens on the housing authority.

Manzke v. Jefferson County Slip Copy, 2018 WL 5095678 (W.D. Wis. Aug. 21, 2018) Joshua Pernat and Sara Manzke owned property that had four miniature goats and two geese on it. Sara (plaintiff) applied for a zoning variance and a conditional use permit to accommodate her emotional support animals. Jefferson County and the Town of Ixonia denied her applications. Sara then brought forth claims under the Fair Housing Amendments Act and Wisconsin’s Open Housing Act that she was discriminated against by Jefferson County and the Town of Ixonia. Joshua and Sara also sought a notice of removal of a small claims action brought forth by Jefferson County seeking monetary sanctions for the alleged violations of the zoning variance. Jefferson County argued that the plaintiff’s federal reasonable accommodation claim was not ripe because the County never made a final decision with respect to Sara’s applications for a variance and conditional use permit. When the Town of Ixonia voted to recommend that Jefferson County deny the plaintiff’s variance application, the plaintiff withdrew her applications from consideration. Sara argued that the town’s denial “foretold a denial by the County,” and any further appeal to the County would have been fruitless. The Court did not agree. The County had no obligation to follow the town’s recommendation. The Court dismissed plaintiff’s Fair Housing Amendments Act claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and accordingly dismissed plaintiff’s state law claim without prejudice. Since Sara was unable to state a federal claim, the Court also held that Sara and Joshua could not remove the small claim by Jefferson County to federal court.
Marine Mammal Conservancy, Inc. v. Department of Agr. 134 F.3d 409 (D.C. Cir. 1998)

A nonprofit organization petitioned for review of the order of administrative law judge (ALJ) which denied organization's motion to intervene in administrative proceedings under Animal Welfare Act. The Court of Appeals held that the organization's failure to appeal administrative denial to judicial officer precluded judicial review of ALJ's actions.

Marine Wonderland & Animal Welfare Park, Ltd., v. Kreps 610 F.2d 947 (1979)

The facts of this case deal with an Canadian amusement park that had dolphins in its possession en route to Canada when it was forced to land  in the United States.  In this case, the court found that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA"), which is the agency charged with the administration of the MMPA, must be accorded first opportunity to interpret the meaning of "importation."  The NOAA, as fact-finder and record-builder, is best suited to determine legal and factual determinations. 

Marino v. Nat'l Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin. --- F.4th ----, 2022 WL 1548489 (D.C. Cir. May 17, 2022) Plaintiff animal welfare organizations sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking to enforce conditions in permits held by SeaWorld. The permits authorize the capture and display of orcas and require display facilities to transmit medical and necropsy data to the NMFS following the death of an animal displayed under the terms of a permit. In 1994, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was amended such that it shifted authority to oversee conditions of marine mammals at exhibitors from NMFS to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). After three pre-1994 orcas died at SeaWorld, plaintiffs tried to convince NMFS that it still had the authority to enforce the pre-1994 rules related to release of records, but NMFS contended that its authority was extinguished in 1994. Plaintiffs brought suit, arguing that the NMFS's policy rests upon an arbitrary and capricious interpretation of the MMPA, and that its refusal to enforce the permit conditions was also arbitrary and capricious. The district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit for lack of standing. On appeal here, the court examined plaintiffs' standing under the three-part Lujan test. The court found a lack of redressability for the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs fail to allege any facts from which the court could infer the relief they seek would likely cause the NMFS to redress their alleged harms. In fact, because the MMPA language on permits is permissive, NMFS has discretion whether to enforce them. This is coupled with the fact that there is no evidence that third-party SeaWorld will turn over the reports even if NMFS were to direct them. Therefore, this court held that the district court did not err in determining that the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue this case. Affirmed.
Mayfield v. Bethards 826 F.3d 1252 (10th Cir. 2016) In this case, plaintiffs sued defendant, Officer Bethards, for unlawfully killing their pet dog Majka. Plaintiffs' dogs were lying in plaintiffs' unfenced front yard when the officers entered the yard and then followed the dogs to the back of the house, eventually killing one of the dogs. The plaintiffs argued that by unlawfully killing their dog, Officer Bethards violated their constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment by entering the property without a warrant with the intention of killing the dogs. Officer Bethards moved to have the complaint dismissed for a failure to state a claim and the court denied this motion. Specifically, Officer Bethards argued that this was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment because the Fourth Amendment only applies to “effects,” which does not include dogs. The court disagreed, finding that Fourth Amendment protection for pet dogs is a clearly established right. Ultimately, the court held that the plaintiffs asserted facts sufficient to show a violation of their clearly established Fourth Amendment rights and the district court's order denying Deputy Bethards's motion to dismiss was affirmed.
McClendon v. Story County Sheriff's Office 403 F.3d 510 (8th Cir. 2005)

A farmer was neglecting her horses and the entire herd confiscated by animal control officers.  The farmer brought a section 1983 claim against the animal control officers for acting outside of the scope of their warrant by removing more than just the sick horses.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in part, holding the animal control officers were entitled to qualified immunity and seizure of all the horses was not unreasonable or outside the scope of the warrant. 

McCready v. Virginia 94 U.S. 391 (1876)

McCready, a citizen of Maryland, was indicted, convicted, and fined $500, in the Circuit Court of Gloucester County, Va., for planting oysters in Ware River, a stream in which the tide ebbs and flows, in violation of sect. 22 of the act of the assembly of Virginia.  The precise question to be determined in this case is, whether the State of Virginia can prohibit the citizens of other States from planting oysters in Ware River, a stream in that State where the tide ebbs and flows, when its own citizens have that privilege.  The Court held that the fisheries of a state are not a privilege or immunity of the citizens therein, but rather a property right of the people of the state.  Thus, the citizens of one State are not invested by this clause of the Constitution with any interest in the common property of the citizens of another State.  The Court also found the Commerce Clause inapplicable, as there is here no question of transportation or exchange of commodities, but only of cultivation and production.

Merced v. Kasson 577 F.3d 578 (C.A.5 (Tex.),2009)

Plaintiff José Merced, a Santeria Oba Oriate, or priest, brought action against the City of Euless alleging that city ordinances prohibiting the keeping of animals for slaughter and the slaughtering of animals prevented him from performing animal sacrifices essential to Santeria religious practice. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in favor of the city, but denied its request for attorney fees. The Court of Appeals reversed the decision in favor of the city and affirmed the denial of attorney fees. The court found that the city did not prove that the burden it placed on the plaintiff advanced a compelling interest and was the least restrictive means of doing so. In fact, the Court noted that prior to the ban, Merced had performed these sacrifices for sixteen years without creating health hazards or unduly harming any animals. The City's purported interest was further undermined by the fact that hunters are allowed to butcher dead animals at their homes. Thus, Euless failed to assert a compelling governmental interest in support of its ordinances that burden Merced's religious conduct. 

Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida v. U.S. 697 F.Supp.2d 1324 (S.D.Fla., 2010)

This case examines the requirements surrounding the issuance of an Incidental Take Statement (ITS), a statement that authorizes harm to an endangered species, but that must include a trigger for reviewing the decision (known as “re-consultation”) at the point when there is a risk of jeopardizing the species. The trigger must be a numerical trigger describing the “take” (e.g., the capturing or killing of members of an endangered species) in terms of specific population data unless it is impractical to do so.   Specifically, this case explores whether the Army Corps of Engineers and FTS were able to use an ecological surrogate in place of a numerical trigger in an ITS that was promulgated in the process of conservation work in the Everglades.   This conservation work involved manipulating water levels in the Everglades and impacted the viability of three species protected under the Endangered Species Act (the Cape Sable seaside sparrow, the Everglade snail kite, and the wood stork), as well as the well-being of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians.

Midcoast Fishermen's Ass'n v. Gutierrez 592 F.Supp.2d 40 (D.D.C.,2008) Plaintiffs filed suit seeking review of the Department of Commerce’s (the “Agency”) decision to deny their petition for emergency action to address continued overfishing in the Northeastern multispecies fisheries by excluding midwater trawl vessels from groundfish closed areas.   After the administrative record was filed, and the Agency certified that it was the administrative record for the decision, Plaintiffs moved to compel completion of the administrative record.   The United States District Court, District of Columbia denied Plaintiffs’ motion, finding that Plaintiffs failed to show that the Agency blatantly ignored specific readily available information, the fact that the Agency based its decision on data from a two year chronological time span did not render the record incomplete, supplementing the record with bycatch data from an earlier time period would not provide any background information useful to the resolution of the case, and that the record contained sufficient information to allow the Court to determine what process the Agency followed in making its decision.
Milburn v. City of Lebanon 221 F. Supp. 3d 1217 (D. Or. 2016)

Plaintiff Milburn was acquitted of misdemeanor animal abuse on appeal, but a Lebanon police officer removed Milburns’ dog from her possession. While the appeal was pending, the Defendant, City of Lebanon, gave the dog to an animal shelter. The dog was later adopted by a new owner. The Linn County Circuit Court ordered the City to return the dog to Milburn after the acquittal but the Defendant City failed to comply. Milburn then brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 against the City of Lebanon. The City moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim, and the United States District Court, for the District of Oregon, granted that motion while giving leave for Milburn to amend her complaint. In the Amended Complaint, Milburn contended that the City’s refusal to return her dog pursuant to the state court order deprived her of property without due process of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Milburn also asserted a violation of her procedural due process rights. The United States District Court, for the District of Oregon, reasoned that while Milburn alleged a state-law property interest in her dog, she failed to allege that the Defendant City deprived her of that interest without adequate process. Milburn also did not allege state remedies to be inadequate. Those two omissions in combination were fatal to Miburn's procedural due process claim. Also, Milburn's assertion that the court issued an order and that the City did not comply with, is an attack on the result of the procedure. The court reasoned that attacking the result instead of the process of a procedure does not state a procedural due process claim. Milburn’s procedural due process claim was then dismissed. The Court also held that it did not have jurisdiction over Milburn’s injunctive relief claim. Therefore, Milburn's request for injunctive relief was dismissed with prejudice. However, the court held that Milburn could seek monetary damages. While Defendant City’s second motion to dismiss was granted, Milburn was granted leave to amend her complaint within 90 days with regard to her claim for actual and compensatory damages.

 

Miller v. Nye Cty. 488 F. Supp. 3d 973 (D. Nev. 2020) In this case, Plaintiff Gary Miller sued Nye County and one of its deputies under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and various Nevada state laws for the fatal shooting of his dog, Blu. Blu was shot four times at the plaintiff's residence after officers responded when Mr. Miller accidentally set off a silent alarm at his own residence. The County and deputy moved to dismiss three of the plaintiff's claims and his request for punitive damages against the County. The court granted the motion to dismiss those claims because it found that the County is statutorily immune from Plaintiff's negligent-training claim and because he lacks the necessary relationship with Blu to establish a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. With regard to the punitive damages claim in a § 1983 action, the court granted the County's motion to dismiss that request for relief. Finally, the court granted the County's motion to dismiss Miller's § 1983 claim against it because the plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief under a theory of single-incident liability. However, the court granted leave to amend this claim if the plaintiff can plausibly allege that the County has engaged in a pattern of similar conduct, or that the scenario in this case is likely to recur and that an officer who is ill-equipped to handle the scenario will likely commit a constitutional violation.
Missouri Pet Breeders Association v. County of Cook 106 F. Supp. 3d 908 (N.D. Ill. 2015) Cook County passed an ordinance that required a “pet shop operator” to only sell animals obtained from a breeder that (among other requirements) held a USDA class “A” license and owned or possessed no more than 5 female dogs, cats, or rabbits capable of reproduction in any 12-month period. Plaintiffs, a professional pet organization and three Cook County pet shops and their owners, sued Cook County government officials, alleging that the ordinance violated the United States and Illinois Constitutions. Defendants moved to dismiss the action. After concluding that plaintiffs had standing to pursue all of their claims, with the exception of the Foreign Commerce Claim, the Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss all claims, but gave Plaintiffs a chance to cure their complaint's defects by amendment.
Missouri Primate Foundation v. People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. Slip Copy, 2018 WL 1420239 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 22, 2018) This matter is a motion of counterclaim by defendants Missouri Primate Foundation to dismiss PETA's (the counterclaim plaintiff) assertion that two chimpanzees were being held in conditions that deprived the chimpanzees of adequate social groups, space, and psychological stimulation, putting them at risk of and causing physical and psychological injury, such as deteriorated cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, stress, anxiety and depression. PETA also alleges that the chimpanzees were denied a sanitary environment, proper ventilation, a healthy diet, and adequate veterinary care. PETA claimed that the Missouri Primate Foundation (MPF) (the counterclaim defendants) were holding the two chimpanzees in conditions that “harm” and “harass” the chimpanzees, thus violating the “take” prohibition of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). MPF's motion contends that PETA’s counterclaim is based on allegations that they failed to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, not the ESA. MPF further contends that because the chimpanzees at its facility were lawfully in captivity and under the auspices of the AWA as administered by the USDA–APHIS, so the chimpanzees cannot be subject to a “take” under the ESA. They further argued that PETA lacked standing as the AWA preempts or supersedes the ESA as to animals held at USDA licensed facilities. Because the AWA does not allow citizen suits, MPF argued, the case must be dismissed. After examining similar cases, this court concluded that claims under the AWA and ESA are complementary and do not conflict, and that the ESA protects captive animals regardless of whether the alleged violator is an AWA licensed entity. The court found that the allegations by PETA are sufficient at this stage of the case and issues of proof are reserved for trial. As such, the court denied the motions of the counterclaim defendants.
Missouri v. Holland 40 S.Ct. 382 (1920)

This was a bill in equity brought by the State of Missouri to prevent a game warden of the United States from attempting to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of July 3, 1918, c. 128, 40 Stat. 755, and the regulations made by the Secretary of Agriculture in pursuance of the same. The ground of the bill is that the statute is an unconstitutional interference with the rights reserved to the States by the Tenth Amendment.  While the court recognized the states' province to act in traditional matters of fish and game, the migratory nature of wild birds makes them the proper subject of treaty.  As noted by the Court, "[t]he subject matter is only transitorily within the State and has no permanent habitat therein."  The Court found the treaty was a proper exercise of constitutional authority where a national interest was implicated (i.e., "the protectors of our forests and our crops") and could only be protected by national action in concert with another power.

Mitchell v. Union Pacific Railroad Co. 188 F.Supp. 869 (D.C.Cal. 1960)

In Mitchell v. Union Pacific R.R. Co. , 188 F.Supp. 869 (S.D. Cal. 1960), an expert was allowed to testify about a dog’s income-potential based on evidence that the dog could perform special tricks and made numerous appearances at charitable events. A jury verdict amounting to $5,000 was upheld where the court determined that the amount was not excessive and evidence of the dog’s income potential was not improper.

Moden v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife 2008 WL 4763025 (D.Or.)

Plaintiffs filed claim against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) alleging arbitrary and capricious agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and failure to perform a nondiscretionary act under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).   The United States District Court, D. Oregon, granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss and denied Plaintiffs’ request for leave to amend, and Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, finding   that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ APA and ESA claims, and that it remains without jurisdiction to mandate action by the agency if rulemaking has not been initiated by the FWS at its discretion, regardless of whether a determination resulting from a five year review suggests a listing status should be changed or should remain the same.

Modesto Irr. Dist. v. Gutierrez 619 F.3d 1024 (C.A.9 (Cal.), 2010)

Plaintiffs, Modesto Irrigation District and other irrigation and water districts, contended that, in listing the steelhead—a type of Pacific salmon—as "threatened" under the ESA, the National Marine Fisheries Service violated both the ESA and APA. More specifically, Plaintiffs averred that listing the steelhead as a distinct species under the ESA violated the Act because the steelhead and rainbow trout interbreed. The Ninth Circuit disagreed and affirmed the ruling of the District Court. The court noted that while the steelhead and rainbow trout do interbreed, Congress, in enacting the ESA, did not intend to create a rigid limitation on an agency’s discretion to define the "statutorily undefined concept" of a "distinct population segment" ("DPS").

Molinari v. Tuskegee University 339 F. Supp. 2d. 1293 (N.D. Ala. 2004)

A veterinary student was kicked by a cow while trying to perform a medical procedure.  The student brought a personal injury lawsuit against the professor and university for negligently allowing the university-owned cow to kick her and not providing timely medical treatment.  Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part.

Monell v. Department of Social Services 436 US 658 (1978)

Female employees of the Department of Social Services and the Board of Education of the City of New York brought an action challenging the policies of those bodies in requiring pregnant employees to take unpaid leaves of absence before those leaves were required for medical reasons.  The decision of this case addresses issues of immunity.

MONICA NEWMAN, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated; MATTHEW KEITH DOUGLAS, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated; and RUBY JUDINE MALMAN, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF PAYETTE, 2015 WL 6159471 (D. Idaho, 2015) District Court ruled City of Payette's pit bull ordinance's procedural aspects were unconstitutional, finding that the lack of hearing provisions for a dog that was impounded due to an attack or bite violated procedural due process. The court also found that forcing the dog owner to bear the burden of proving his or her dog's innocence violated due process. The court, however, found no constitutional infirmity with the notice procedure employed by Payette's pit bull ordinance, provided Payette adhered to Idaho Code § 25-2804. The court ordered Plaintiff Douglas’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment to be granted in part and denied in part; the claims asserted against the city of Payette by Plaintiffs Monica Newman and Ruby Judine Malman to be dismissed without prejudice; and all claims asserted by Plaintiffs against the city of Fruitland to be dismissed without prejudice.
Moore v. Garner 2005 WL 1022088 (E.D.Tex.)

Complaints were made against a plaintiff-couple about the poor conditions for over 100 dogs and other animals that were living in on the couple’s farm. The couple who owned the farm failed to do anything about it and the animals were seized.  Plaintiffs brought claims against sixty defendants (mainly Van Zandt County, Texas officials) for conspiracy and violations of the Hobbs Act, Animal Welfare Act, Animal Enterprise Protection Act, RICO, the Texas Constitution and other federal statutes.  The trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss and the District Court affirmed. 

Moreland v. Marion County, Miss. 2008 WL 4551443 (S.D.Miss.)

Plaintiff brought action against Marion County (“County”) and several animal control officers (“Officers”) in their official capacities, after the Officers crossed county lines and confiscated several dogs that appeared severely dehydrated and malnourished, and euthanized at least one dog.   On Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Hattiesburg Division held that since there was no evidence to indicate that Defendants’ actions were anything more than negligence not rising to the level of reckless disregard, Plaintiff’s state law claims against Defendants should be dismissed.   The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim, finding that the record did not support a finding of a pattern of inadequate training rising to the level of deliberate indifference to known or obvious consequence, and that the Officers’ actions could not be found to be a known or obvious result of the County’s training.   The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim with prejudice.  

Moreno v. Hughes 157 F.Supp.3d 687 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 19, 2016) This § 1983 action arises from the shooting of Plaintiffs' dog by Defendant Ronald Hughes, a Michigan Department of Corrections Absconder Recovery Unit Investigator. Defendant shot Plaintiffs' dog after entering her house by mistake to execute a fugitive warrant. This proceeding concerns a Motion in Limine filed by defendant seeking an order that plaintiffs are not entitled to noneconomic losses for the pain and suffering they sustained as a result of Defendant shooting their dog. Defendant contends that damage to personal property (including dogs) is limited to market value only. In rejecting Defendant's argument, this court found that it is "beyond dispute" that compensatory damages under § 1983 may include noneconomic injuries. A Plaintiff's interests in § 1983 actions contain different policy considerations than in traditional negligence claims. In fact, the court stated that, "[p]rohibiting recovery for emotional damages stemming from the loss of, or harm to, an animal caused by a constitutional violation would conflict with the compensatory and deterrence aims of § 1983." Additionally, applying Michigan law on the issue of emotional damages for injury to an animal would create inconsistency in civil rights actions since other states allow such damages. The court found that the determination of both compensatory and punitive damages must be left to the fact finder for each case, including this one. Defendant's Motion in Limine was denied.
Moser v. Pennsylvania Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Slip Copy, 2012 WL 4932046 (E.D. Penn.)

After the defendants confiscated mare without a warrant and required that the plaintiff surrender another mare and a few other animals in order to avoid prosecution, the plaintiffs sued the defendants for violating the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Pennsylvania statutory and common law. However, the plaintiffs lost when the district court granted the defendants motion for summary judgment on all counts.

Mostek v. Genesee County Animal Control Slip Copy, 2012 WL 683430 (E.D., Mich. 2012)

Defendant officer removed a gravely-ill cat that needed veterinary care from Plaintiff's backyard. Plaintiff sued alleging Fourth Amendment claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff disclaimed ownership of the cat, thus her property rights were not violated by the seizure. Officer was shielded by the doctrine of qualified immunity, because animal control officers may enter property and remove animals that appear to be in danger.

Mountain States Legal Foundation v. Hodel 799 F.2d 1423 (10th Cir. 1986)

Horses protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act are not instruments of the federal government, and therefore incursions by wild horses onto private land do not constitute a Fifth Amendment taking requiring just compensation.  

N.Y. Pet Welfare Ass'n, Inc. v. City of N.Y. 850 F.3d 79 (2d Cir. 2017)

In 2015, New York City enacted a group of laws aimed at dealing with problems associated with the companion animal business in the city by regulating the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops. On the day the laws were to go into effect, the New York Pet Welfare Association (NYPWA) filed suit challenging two of the laws. The first law, the “Sourcing Law,” required that pet shops sell only animals acquired from breeders holding a Class A license issued under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The second law law, the “Spay/Neuter Law,” required that pet shops sterilize each animal before releasing it to a consumer. NYPWA argued that the Sourcing Law violated the “dormant” Commerce Clause and is preempted by the AWA, and that the Spay/Neuter Law is preempted by New York law. The district court dismissed NYPWA’s complaint and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision. First, the 2nd Circuit determined that the Sourcing Law did not violate the Commerce Clause because it did not discriminate against interstate commerce. The 2nd Circuit found that the Sourcing Law may make it difficult for certain out of state breeders to sell to city shops, but so long as breeders from other states are allowed to sell in the city, then it is not considered to be discriminatory. Also, the 2nd Circuit found that NYPWA was unable to show that any incidental burden that the Sourcing Law placed on out of state breeders was excessive and therefore the law passed under the Pike Balancing test. Lastly, the 2nd Circuit determined that the Spay/Neuter Law was not preempted by New York Law because NYPWA failed to identify a single New York statute or case that suggests that the new law would be preempted in any way. As a result, the 2nd Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.

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.
Nat'l Pork Producers Council v. Ross 6 F.4th 1021 (9th Cir. 2021) This case concerns a challenge to Proposition 12, a measure passed by California voters in 2018 that bans the sale of whole pork meat (no matter where produced) from animals confined in a manner inconsistent with California standards. Proposition 12 amended sections 25990–25993 of the California Health and Safety Code to “prevent animal cruelty by phasing out extreme methods of farm animal confinement." The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation (collectively referred to as “the Council”) filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief on the ground that Proposition 12 violates the dormant Commerce Clause. The court noted that under its precedent, a state law violates the dormant Commerce Clause only in narrow circumstances. Here, the Council argues that Proposition 12 places an undue burden on interstate commerce and that Proposition 12 has an impermissible extraterritorial effect. The court disagreed, finding that Proposition 12 does not function as a price-control nor price-affirmation statute, as it neither dictates the price of for pork products nor does it tie the price of pork products sold in California to out-of-state prices. The Council also suggests that the law effectively violates the dormant Commerce Clause because of the interconnected nature of the pork industry. Pork producers would either have to produce all pork according to California standards or segregate California pork production to comply with the enhanced welfare standards. Again, the court found the argument unpersuasive based on precedent because a a state law is not impermissibly extraterritorial unless it directly regulates conduct that is wholly out of state. The "upstream" effects of Proposition 12 apply to both California and out-of-state entities equally, and a state is entitled to regulate commerce within its state. Finally, the court dismissed the argument that the dormant commerce clause is violated because it create inconsistent regulations where there is a need for "national uniformity in regulation." The court was unpersuaded that pork production rises to the level of need like taxation or interstate travel. The court held that the complaint here does not plausibly allege that such narrow circumstances apply to Proposition 12; thus, the court ruled that the district court did not err in dismissing the Council's complaint for failure to state a claim.
Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior Slip copy, 2020 WL 4605235 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 11, 2020) This case centers on the Trump Administration's new interpretation of incidental takings under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). In December 2017, the Principal Deputy Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a memorandum that countered almost 50 years of the agency’s interpretation of “takings” and “killings” under the MBTA (the "Jorjani Opinion"). According to the DOI in that opinion, the MBTA does not prohibit incidental takes or kills because the statute applies only to activities specifically aimed at birds. Environmental interest groups and various states brought three now-consolidated actions to vacate the memorandum and subsequent guidance issued in reliance on the memorandum. Both parties moved for summary judgment. In essence, the question before the court is whether DOI’s interpretation of the MBTA must be set aside as contrary to law under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) or upheld as a valid exercise of agency authority. The court first observed that, from the early 1970s until 2017, the DOI interpreted the MBTA to prohibit incidental takes and kills, imposing liability for activities and hazards that led to the deaths of protected birds, irrespective of whether the activities targeted birds or were intended to take or kill birds. To conserve migratory birds and ensure compliance with the MBTA’s prohibition on “incidental take,” the DOI's Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) used a range of strategies: sending companies notice of the risks their facilities and equipment posed to migratory birds; issuing industry guidance; informally negotiating remediation efforts; and issuing permits authorizing takes. In fact, the court noted that the agency prioritized a cooperative approach with industry over enforcement actions. In 2015, the DOI formalized this approach by undergoing a rulemaking process regulating incidental take. In early 2017, the DOI's Solicitor then issued a memorandum that reaffirmed the long-standing interpretation that the MBTA prohibited incidental take that became known as the "Tomkins Opinion." Once presidential administrations changed and Tomkins departed, the new Principal Deputy Solicitor issued a new memorandum that stated any agency comments, recommendations, or actions not be based on the principle that the MBTA prohibited incidental take (the Jorjani Opinion). This triggered the instant lawsuits by conservation organizations and several states. On July 31, 2019, the lower court found that the plaintiffs sufficiently demonstrated standing and denied the DOI's motion to dismiss. On appeal here, this court first noted that both parties agree with longstanding precedent that the MBTA's misdemeanor provision creates strict liability. In contrast, the Jorjani Opinion contends that the criminal penalty provisions under the MBTA is limited to only acts directed at birds and those activities whose purpose is to "render an animal subject to human control" like hunting or capturing. In reviewing the Jorjani Opinion under the lessened deference standard afforded by administrative law, this court found the DOI overstated the any conflicts in interpretation of the MBTA among circuit courts (a "dramatized representation"). In addition, the court found the Jorjani Opinion "is a recent and sudden departure from long-held agency positions backed by over forty years of consistent enforcement practices." The court found the Jorjani Opinion was an unpersuasive interpretation of the MBTA's unambiguous prohibition on the killing of birds and is contrary to the plain language of the law itself. Such an interpretation runs contrary to legislative history, decades of enforcement practices by the DOI, and caselaw. Because the agency's action was held unlawful under the APA, the court found the only appropriate remedy was vacatur. Thus, Plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment were granted, and Interior’s motion was denied.
National Audubon Society, Inc. v. Davis 307 F.3d 835 (9th Cir. 2002)

In 1998, California voters passed Proposition 4, which restricted the use of certain kinds of traps, specifically steel-jawed leghold traps.  The National Audubon Society, among other groups, challenged the statute, arguing that it was preempted by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and the and National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act (NWRSIA).  The Ninth Circuit held that the statute was preempted by the Endangered Species Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System Act.  Contrary to the trapper-plaintiffs contentions, the statute, however, did not violate the Commerce Clause.

National Audubon Society, Inc. v. Davis 312 F.3d 416 (9th Cir. 2002)

This order accompanies the Ninth Circuit's decision in National Audubon v. Davis, 307 F.3d 835 (9th Cir. 2002).

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