Cases

Case name Citationsort descending Summary
U.S. v. Fejes 232 F.3d 696 (9th Cir. 2000)

The jury found that Fejes sold caribou in violation of the Lacey Act by providing guide services to two hunters that took the caribou in violation of Alaska law.  The court held that a "sale" of wildlife for purposes of 16 U.S.C. § 3373(d)(1)(B) encompasses not only the agreement to provide guide or outfitting services, but also the actual provision of such services.  Further, defendant was not entitled to instruction regarding alleged state law requirement that he transport illegally taken caribou because the evidence at trial unquestionably showed that he sold caribou in interstate commerce.

Waters v. Powell 232 P.3d 1086 (Utah Ct. App., 2010)

In this Utah case, defendant Powell took his dog to a kennel managed by plaintiff Waters to be boarded for a few days. Waters took the dog to a play area to be introduced to the other dogs where the dog bit Waters. Waters filed a complaint against Powell alleging that he was strictly liable for the injury the dog inflicted. On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals held that Waters was a "keeper" of the dog for purposes of the state's dog bite statute (sec. 18-1-1). Waters essentially conceded on appeal that if she is a keeper then she is precluded from asserting a strict liability claim against Powell. Thus, the district court's denial of summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded with instructions that Powell's summary judgment motion be granted.

Eriksson v. Nunnink 233 Cal.App. 4th 708 (2015) In this case a deceased horse rider's parents (Erikssons) have brought wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress actions against the rider's coach after she fell from her horse in competition and died. Due to a release form signed by the parents, the coach (Nunnink) could only be held liable if he was found grossly negligent. The parents attempted to show that the coach was grossly negligent in allowing the rider to compete after injuries sustained by the horse. This court concluded that the Erikssons failed to establish that Nunnink was grossly negligent. The court affirmed the judgment.
Sligar v. Odell 233 P.3d 914 (Wash.App. Div. 1, 2010)

In this Washington case, plaintiff Sligar was bitten on the finger by the Odells' dog after Sligar's finger protruded through a hole in the six-foot high chain link fence that separated their two properties. The court found the dispositive question was whether, pursuant to RCW 16.08.040 and .050 (a law that defines when entry onto the property of the dog owner is for a lawful purpose) Sligar's finger was “lawfully in or on ... the property of the” Odells at the time of the dog bite. The court found that the statute provides that consent may not be presumed where the property is fenced. Concerning the common law negligence claim, Sligar contends that the Odells were negligent in failing to protect her from harm because they failed to erect a solid fence on the property boundary until after the bite occurred. However, the court had previously found that it is not unreasonable to keep a dog in a fenced backyard where the dog has not shown any dangerous propensities.

Colucci v. Colucci 234 A.3d 1226 (Me. 2020) This Maine case is an appeal of a divorce proceeding where one party argues the court erred in awarding the parties' dogs to another. In 2017, Suan Colucci filed a complaint for divorce against her husband, Stephen Colucci. In 2019, the court entered a judgment granting the divorce and awarded both dogs “set aside to [Susan] as her exclusive property.” On appeal by Stephen, this court found that undisputed evidence established that "Louise" the dog was acquired five years before marriage, and thus, was nonmarital property. Because no evidence was presented to which of the parties actually acquired Louise in 2010, the judgment was vacated and remanded for further proceedings to determine ownership of Louise.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. LT Napa Partners LLC, 234 Cal. App. 4th 1270, 184 Cal. Rptr. 3d 759 (Cal. Ct. App. 2015), review filed (Apr. 16, 2015) Plaintiff and respondent Animal Legal Defense Fund filed an action against defendants and appellants LT Napa Partners LLC and Kenneth Frank for unfair competition, alleging defendants sold foie gras in their Napa restaurant in violation of California law. Defendants moved to strike plaintiff's claim pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute, arguing it was exercising its free speech rights by protesting the law. Defendants appealed the trial court's denial of the motion. The appeals court affirmed the lower court's decision because the ALDF demonstrated probability of prevailing on the claim that it had standing under Unfair Competition Law (UCL); showed basis for liability against chef; and showed probability of prevailing on its claim that owner and chef unlawfully sold foie gras.
Hatfield v. Bd. of Supervisors of Madison Cty. 235 So.3d 18 (Miss. Aug. 10, 2017) This Mississippi Supreme Court decision considers the construction of a zoning ordinance that prohibits the "keeping or raising poultry" in the "R-1 Residential District" of Madison County. The property owner, Hatfield, was found to be violating R-1 by the Madison County Board of Supervisors after county officials found around 60 "ducks, geese and other fowl" on this property. Hatfield appealed this decision to the Circuit Court as arbitrary and capricious based on an unconstitutionally vague ordinance section. The Circuit Court, as the reviewing appellate body for the ordinance violation, found the Board's decision was supported by evidence and not arbitrary or capricious. On appeal by Hatfield, the Supreme Court first observed that there are two districts in appellant's subdivision: Agricultural and Residential. In the Agricultural Districts, breeding, raising, and feeding fowl is an expressly permitted use. Appellant lives the zoned Residential Estate District. While the R-1 zoning allows "livestock" and "grazing livestock" on tracts of land one acre or greater, it does not allow the breeding, raising, and feeding chickens, ducks, or other fowl as a permitted use. Hatfield suggested that grazing/livestock section (Section 601) could be interpreted to include poultry, fowl, and/or birds. However, the Supreme Court found that position unreasonable since the examples listed in the code section are "obviously limited to large, four-legged, hoofed animals." This is further supported by the fact raising fowl is expressly permitted in one district, but not the other. Thus, the Ordinance was sufficiently clear and not manifestly unreasonable. The circuit court's decision was affirmed.
State v. Blatt 235 W. Va. 489 (2015) The Circuit Court of Wayne County ordered that Tinkerbell, a female pit bull terrier, be destroyed pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute, after she injured a neighbor child who was playing in the dog’s yard. The circuit court's decision ordering that Tinkerbell be destroyed relied on a presumption that pit bull dog breeds are inherently vicious. Because extensive debate exists over whether scientific evidence and social concerns justify breed-specific presumptions, the court concluded that courts may not, upon judicial notice, rely solely upon a breed-specific presumption in ordering the destruction of a dog pursuant to West Virginia's vicious dog statute. The adoption of breed-specific presumptions with regard to this statute is the prerogative of the Legislature, not the judiciary, the court stated. In the absence of a breed-specific presumption, the court determined that neither the remaining findings of fact in the circuit court's destruction order nor the facts presented in the record provided satisfactory proof that Tinkerbell must be euthanized. Consequently, the court reversed the circuit court's destruction order.
GREEN v. LECKINGTON 236 P.2d 335 (Or. 1951)

In this Oregon case, defendant appeals a judgment of $700 in damages obtained against him after he shot plaintiff’s dog. The dog had gone onto to defendant’s property and was chasing his chickens. On appeal, the Supreme Court found that because it was a general verdict, there was no way to determine a basis for the jury’s verdict; specifically, whether erroneous instructions on exemplary damages and the proper measure of damages influenced the verdict. Because the Court had the whole record before it (and in the interest of “harmony between neighbors”), the Court fixed the damages at the true market value of the dog ($250).

Brackett v. State 236 S.E.2d 689 (Ga.App. 1977)

In this Georgia case, appellants were convicted of the offense of cruelty to animals upon evidence that they were spectators at a cockfight. The Court of Appeals agreed with the appellants that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction, and the judgment was reversed. The court found that the statute prohibiting cruelty to animals was meant to include fowls as animals and thus proscribed cruelty to a gamecock. However, the evidence that defendants were among the spectators at a cockfight was insufficient to sustain their convictions.

State v. Siliski 238 S.W.3d 338 (Tenn.Crim.App., 2007)

The defendant operated a dog breeding business, “Hollybelle's Maltese,” in which she bred purebred Maltese dogs in her Franklin home, advertised the resulting puppies on an Internet website, and shipped the puppies to buyers located around the country. She was convicted by a Williamson County Circuit Court jury of eleven counts of animal cruelty. The main issue on appeal concerned the imposition of sentence, which included both consecutive terms of probation and a permanently prohibition from engaging in any commercial activity involving animals. The appellate court affirmed the defendant's convictions but concluded that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive periods of probation in conjunction with concurrent sentences. However, the court found that  the trial court's permanent prohibition against her buying, selling, breeding, or engaging in any commercial activity involving animals  was authorized by the animal cruelty statute. As the court stated, "Given this proof and the court's findings, we cannot conclude that the trial court erred in ordering that the defendant be permanently barred from engaging in commercial activity with respect to dogs."

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. California Exposition and State Fairs 239 Cal. App. 4th 1286 (2015) Plaintiffs brought a taxpayer action against defendants based on allegations that defendants committed animal cruelty every summer by transporting pregnant pigs and housing them in farrowing crates at the state fair. One defendant, joined by the other, demurred, contending plaintiffs' complaint failed to state a cause of action for three distinct reasons, including that California's animal cruelty laws were not enforceable through a taxpayer action. The trial court agreed on all accounts, and sustained the demurrer without leave to amend. The Court of Appeals addressed only one of plaintiffs' claims, that contrary to the trial court's conclusion, plaintiffs could assert a taxpayer action to enjoin waste arising out of defendants' alleged violation of the animal cruelty laws. Like the trial court, the appeals court rejected plaintiffs' contention, concluding that they could not circumvent the prohibition recognized in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Mendes (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 136, which concluded that recognition of a private right of action under West's Ann.Cal.Penal Code § 597t would be inconsistent with the Legislature's entrustment of enforcement of anti-cruelty laws to local authorities and humane societies, by couching their claim as a taxpayer action. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed.
Defenders of Wildlife v. Norton 239 F.Supp.2d 9 (D.D.C. 2002)

Plaintiffs, twelve conservation organizations and one individual involved in Lynx conservation efforts, challenge a final decision by the USFWS declaring the Lynx in the contiguous United States to be a "threatened," rather than "endangered," species under the Endangered Species Act.  Plaintiffs allege that the designation of the Lynx as threatened is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law," in violation of § 706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act and that the Service has violated the ESA by failing to designate "critical habitat" for the Lynx as required by that statute.  The Court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, finding that the FWS's conclusion that, "[c]ollectively, the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Southern Rockies do not constitute a significant portion of the range of the DPS," (three of the Lynx's four regions) were collectively not a significant portion of its range was counterintuitive and contrary to the plain meaning of the ESA phrase "significant portion of its range."  With regard to the FWS's failure to designate critical habitat, the excessive delays experienced by the FWS ran completely counter to the mandate of the ESA and were without proper justification. 

Elephant, Inc. v. Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. 239 So.2d 692 (La.App., 1970)

A veterinarian agreed to house, transport, and care for an elephant at no charge other than the actual expenses incurred therewith. One evening, the elephant ingested some poison left in its stall by the veterinarian and later died.  On appeal of the trial court award to plaintiff, the Court disagreed with defendant’s contention that he, as a gratuitous depositary, could only be held liable for gross negligence, willful misconduct, or fraud. In fact, the civil code in Louisiana, states the burden of a depositary is "that of ordinary care which may be expected of a prudent man."  However, an  agreement between the parties was found to release Dr. Cane of liability from negligent acts.

Young v. California Fish and Game Commission 24 Cal. App. 5th 1178 (Ct. App. 2018), reh'g denied (July 20, 2018), review denied (Sept. 26, 2018) Kele Young operated a wildlife preserve called Magic Jungle. Young received her first permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (the Department) in 1990 which was renewed each year thereafter. On August 8, 2013, Young filed her restricted species permit renewal application. On the application, Young stated that she was exempt from payment of the permit fee, application fee, and the inspection fee. Young’s permit was set to expire on November 9, 2013. The Department notified Young on July 14, 2014 that her renewal application was incomplete because the fee had not been paid. The Department agreed to waive the $56.14 permit fee and the $56.65 application fee, but the Department stated that she still had to pay the $227.91 inspection fee. Young was given 30 days to pay the fee. The Department ultimately denied Young’s renewal application. Young appealed to the Commission. The Commission found for the Department. Young then sought a writ of mandate to require the Department to perform its duty to determine whether justified reasons existed to grant or deny Young’s request for a waiver of certain restricted species permitting fees. The trial court denied Young’s writ and this appeal followed. Young failed to support many of her arguments by reference to the record or legal authority, therefore, the only issues that were reviewed were whether the Wildlife Agencies could refuse to waive the inspection fee without consideration of the justified reasons or whether it was in the best interests of the public to waive the fee and if reversal was warranted due to the trial court failing to issue a statement of decision. The Court of Appeals found that no statement of decision was required by the trial court because a statement of decision is only required as to issues of fact and the trial court stated that it was only deciding issues of law and that there was no dispute as to the facts. As for the inspection fee, the Court found that the regulations specifically provided for a waiver of the permit fee but did not contain any other language that would allow for a waiver of the inspection fee. The permit fee was separate from the inspection fee and nothing in the regulations entitled her to a waiver of the inspection fee nor granted the Department the authority to waive such fee. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order denying the petition for writ of mandate.
Gonzales v. Kissner 24 So.3d 214 ((La.App. 1 Cir.,2009)

This Louisiana case concerns an action for personal injuries sustained by an animal control officer who was mauled about the head and neck by defendants' dog while investigating a complaint of an attack by the dog from the previous day. The dog's owners argued on appeal that the trial court failed to apply the Professional Rescuer's Doctrine, sometimes referred to as the “fireman's rule." Because under the facts here, where the dog had previously escaped after being confined in the house and the defendants failed to properly lock the house and/or restrain the dog, the court did not find that Ms. Gonzales' recovery for injuries was barred by the Professional Rescuer's Doctrine. The court held that based upon the record before this court, there was no error on the part of the trial court that warranted reversal of the plaintiff's motion for a partial summary judgment as to the liability of the dog's owners.

U.S. v. Martinelli 240 F. Supp. 365 (N.D. Cal. 1965)

Court held the 1962 version of the BGEPA mandates a jury trial where defendant requests one, despite the fact it constitutes a "petty offense."  For further discussion of criminal prosecutions under the BGEPA, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act.

U.S. v. Lewis 240 F.3d 866 (10th Cir. 2001)

A jury convicted defendant of one count of violating the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C.S. §§ 3371-3378. The jury found that defendant had violated Oklahoma law by capturing wild elk, holding them captive, and organizing at least one commercial elk hunt, without a license for those activities. The court affirmed. Violation of a state hunting law was an adequate basis for a Lacey Act prosecution. There was sufficient evidence to prove that the Oklahoma statute regarding commercial hunting licenses applied to defendant, and that defendant had knowledge of the statute's requirements.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton 240 F.Supp.2d 1090 (D.Ariz. 2003)

This lawsuit arises out of the Fish and Wildlife Service's ("FWS") designation of approximately 30% of the critical habitat originally proposed for the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida ) under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").  In analyzing the FWS's decision under both the standard of review for the APA and the deference afforded by the Chevron standard, the court found that the FWS's interpretation of "critical habitat" was "nonsensical."  It is not determinative whether the habitat requires special management, but, pursuant to the ESA, it is whether the habitat is "essential to the conservation of the species" and special management of that habitat is possibly necessary.   Thus, defendant's interpretation of the ESA received no deference by the court and the court found defendant's application of the ESA unlawful, as Defendant and FWS have been repeatedly told by federal courts that the existence of other habitat protections does not relieve Defendant from designating critical habitat.  The court found that the FWS's Final Rule violated both the ESA and the APA in implementing its regulations.

Smithfield Foods, Inc. v. Miller 241 F.Supp.2d 978 (S.D.Iowa,2003)

The Court struck down an Iowa law that banned certain producers from owning or controlling livestock in Iowa based on the Dormant Commerce Clause.

Park v. Moorman Mfg. Co. 241 P.2d 914 (Utah,1952)

Plaintiffs sued defendant corporation for breach of warranty as to fitness of purpose of poultry feed concentrate after egg production dropped, hens became malnourished, and an unusual amount of picking and cannibalism developed. As to the issue of damages, the Supreme Court held instruction that plaintiff was entitled to damages in amount of market value of chickens destroyed and that provided formula by which market value of suitable replacements could be determined was correct.

Renzo v. Idaho State Dept. of Agriculture 241 P.3d 950 (Idaho, 2010)

A tiger habitat developer sued the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (Department) under the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA) for breach of ordinary care in refusing to grant exotic animal possession and propagation permits and for intentional interference with developer's prospective economic advantage. The Court held that the time period under which the developer had to file notice of its claim began to run when the Department sent its letter stating that a possession permit would be conditioned upon the tigers’ sterilization. This letter put developer on notice that he would not receive a possession permit without sterilizing the tigers, and therefore, had knowledge that he would not be granted a propagation permit.

Wrinkle v. Norman 242 P.3d 1216 (Kan. App., 2010)

Wrinkle filed a negligence action against his neighbors (the Normans) after he sustained injuries on thier property. The injuries stemmed from an incident where Wrinkle was trying to herd cattle he thought belonged to the Normans back into a pen on the Normans' property. The lower court granted the Normans' motion for summary judgment. On appeal, this court found that the question comes down to Wrinkle's status (invitee, licensee, or trespasser) to determine the duty owed by the Normans. This Court found that the district court properly determined that Wrinkle was a trespasser. Finally, the court addressed the K.S.A. 47-123 claim as to whether the Normans are liable for their cattle running at large. The court found that Wrinkle could not meet the burden under the statute.

Leider v. Lewis 243 Cal. App. 4th 1078 (Cal. 2016) Plaintiffs, taxpayers Aaron Leider and the late Robert Culp, filed suit against the Los Angeles Zoo and Director Lewis to enjoin the continued operation of the elephant exhibit and to prevent construction of a new, expanded exhibit. Plaintiffs contend that the Zoo's conduct violates California animal cruelty laws and constitutes illegal expenditure of public funds and property. The case went to trial and the trial court issued limited injunctions relating to forms of discipline for the elephants, exercise time, and rototilling of the soil in the exhibit. On appeal by both sides, this court first took up whether a taxpayer action could be brought for Penal Code violations or to enforce injunctions. The Court held that the earlier Court of Appeals' decision was the law of the case as to the argument that the plaintiff-taxpayer was precluded from obtaining injunctive relief for conduct that violated the Penal Code. The Court found the issue was previously decided and "is not defeated by raising a new argument that is essentially a twist on an earlier unsuccessful argument." Further, refusing to apply this Civil Code section barring injunctions for Penal Code violations will not create a substantial injustice. The Court also found the order to rototill the soil was proper because it accords with the "spirit and letter" of Penal Code section 597t (a law concerning exercise time for confined animals). As to whether the exhibit constituted animal cruelty under state law, the Court found no abuse of discretion when the trial court declined to make such a finding. Finally, the Court upheld the lower court's ruling that declined further injunctive relief under section 526a (a law that concerns actions against state officers for injuries to public property) because the injury prong could not be satisfied. As stated by the Court, "We agree with the trial court that there is no standard by which to measure this type of harm in order to justify closing a multi-million dollar public exhibit."
U.S. v. Santillan 243 F.3d 1125 (9th Cir. 2001)

Santillan was prosecuted under the Lacey Act for bringing ten baby parrots across the border from Tijuana. His appeal raises, among other issues, a significant question about the mens rea needed under the Lacey Act.  The court held that the Lacey Act does not require knowledge of the particular law violated by the possession or predicate act, as long as the defendant knows of its unlawfulness.

Sutton v. Sutton 243 S.E.2d 310 (Ga.App. 1978) Plaintiff brought an action in tort against his father for injuries incurred in attempting to help his father and younger brother recapture an escaped bull. The defendant appeals from judgment for the plaintiff.
Davison v. Berg 243 So.3d 489 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Mar. 22, 2018) Deborah Davison volunteered at her local Humane Society to help take care of a dog park. Three years later, Rebecca Berg’s dog who was chasing other dogs collided with Davison. Davison suffered a broken leg that required extensive medical care. Davison then filed an action against Berg under a Florida statute that “imposes liability on dog owners for damage their dogs cause to other persons and animals.” The trial court granted final summary judgment in favor of Berg for two reasons. The first reason was that the signs outside of the park sufficiently warned Davison of the risks of injury inside. The second reason was that Davison essentially consented to the risk of potential injuries by being a volunteer for the dog park. On appeal, this court stated that the Florida statute was a strict liability statute that makes an owner the insurer of their dog’s conduct. The only defense to the statute is for an owner to display in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign that includes the words “Bad Dog.” Berg presented evidence that the park had two signs prominently displayed at the entrance to the park with the title “Dog Park Rules.” The two signs listed rules for entrance to the dog park. One of these rules stated that park use is at the dog owner’s risk. Another rule stated that rough play and chasing were not allowed if any dogs or owners were uncomfortable with that behavior. The last rule stated that visitors enter at their own risk. Even though Davison entered the park at her own risk, the purpose of the sign requirement in the statute was to give notice that a bad dog is on the premises. The Court found that the trial court erred in finding that the signs at the dog park were sufficiently equivalent to “Bad Dog” signs to preclude liability under the Florida statute. The trial court also found that by virtue of Davison volunteering at the dog park, she was aware that she could be injured during the course of her work and that she signed a volunteer application form that acknowledged that she could be exposed to “bites, scratches, and other injuries.” Davison had also witnessed a prior collision between a dog and an individual that resulted in a broken leg. After witnessing that, Davison began to warn others at the Humane Society about the dangers of being inside the dog park with dogs chasing each other. The Court held that even though there may be evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that Davison consented to the risk of injury, “an actual consent or assumption of the risk defense cannot bar liability.” The Court reversed the trial court’s entry of final summary judgment in favor of Berg.
U.S. v. Gardner 244 F.3d 784 (10th Cir. 2001)

Defendant first argues that the district court lacked jurisdiction because the government failed to plead and prove two essential jurisdictional elements for a 16 U.S.C. § 3372(a)(1) violation--namely, that Mr. Gardner was not an Indian and that the crime affected interstate commerce.  The court found the non- Indian status of the defendant is not an essential element of jurisdiction for a 16 U.S.C. § 3372 violation.  It is only necessary to plead and prove an interstate commerce nexus where § 3372(a)(2) is implicated.  The Court reverses because the jury instructions did not sufficiently instruct the jury as to how it should consider uncorroborated accomplice testimony.

SIRMANS v. THE STATE 244 Ga. App. 252 (2000)

Criminal defendant was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty and one count of simple assault. The motion to suppress was properly denied, because the search was authorized under the "plain view" doctrine and any objections regarding photographs were subsequently waived when they were tendered into evidence without objection. The trial court did not have authority to deprive defendant of animals which the State failed to demonstrate were neglected or abused, because such animals were not contraband or evidence of a crime.

People v. Beam 244 Mich.App. 103 (2000)

Defendant was charged with owning a dog, trained or used for fighting, that caused the death of a person and  filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that M.C.L. § 750.49(10); MSA 28.244(10) was unconstitutionally vague.  The court granted defendant's motion, finding the terms "without provocation" and "owner" to be vague, and dismissed the case. The prosecutor appealed, and the Court of Appeals held that statute was not unconstitutionally vague. Reversed.

State v. Mita 245 P.3d 458 (Hawai', 2010)

Defendant, an owner of two dogs, both boxers, was charged with animal nuisance in violation of Revised Ordinances of Honolulu section 7-2.3. Mita’s counsel objected to the oral charge at trial, arguing "that the arraignment is [not] specific enough to put the defendant specifically on notice of what part of the . . . ordinance she’s being charged with." The district court denied Mita’s motion for judgment of acquittal and sentenced her to pay a $50 fine. Mita appealed. The Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the district court. On certiorari, the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and remanded the case, finding that the definition of animal nuisance in section 7-2.2 does not create an additional essential element of the offense; and, second, the definition of "animal nuisance" is consistent with its commonly understood meaning.

American Society For Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus 246 F.R.D. 39 (D.D.C.,2007)

In this case, the court considered the parties’ respective motions for reconsideration. On August 23, 2007, the Court granted summary judgment to defendant as to elephants subject to a captive-bred wildlife (“CBW”) permit and denied summary judgment as to elephants for which defendant claimed a “pre-Act” exemption. Defendant has filed a motion for reconsideration challenging the Court's decision regarding the “pre-Act” elephants and plaintiff has filed a motion for reconsideration challenging the Court's decision regarding the CBW permit elephants. Defendant’s motion was granted in part as to the standing of plaintiff, Tom Rider. The court held that Rider’s standing is now limited to those six elephants to which he became “emotionally attached.” Notably, the court ended its opinion with a “hint to the wise” that the court will not tolerate any further filings inconsistent with FRCP.

Stephens v. State 247 Ga. App. 719 (2001)

Defendant was accused and convicted of 17 counts of cruelty to animals for harboring fighting dogs in deplorable conditions. Defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and the probation terms. The appellate court found, in light of the evidence, any rational trier of fact could have found the elements of cruelty to animals beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, defendant failed to overcome the presumption that the probation the trial court imposed was correct.

State v. Fay 248 A.3d 1191 (N.H. Dec. 2, 2020) In this New Hampshire case, Christina Fay appeals her convictions on seventeen counts of cruelty to animals. In 2017, a search warrant executed at her residence resulted in the seizure of over 70 Great Danes. Police learned of the conditions at defendant's residence from defendant's prior employees, who gave accounts of floors covered in layers of feces, dogs being fed maggot-infested raw chicken, and dogs present with injuries/illness. After conducting an investigation, the investigating Wolfeboro's police officer (Strauch) partnered with HSUS because the department did not have the resources to handle a large-scale animal law seizure. Strauch did not include in his affidavit supporting the search warrant's issuance that HSUS would be assisting the police, and the warrant itself did not explicitly state that HSUS was permitted to assist in its execution. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress by violating two of her constitutional rights: her right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and her right to privacy. As to the right to privacy argument, the court first noted that defendant grounded her argument in a recently enacted amendment to the state constitution. However, this new amendment, which states that an individual's right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent, did not apply retroactively to defendant. As to defendant's second argument that she had a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the court noted that it has not previously considered the extent to which it is constitutionally reasonable for the police to involve civilians when executing search warrants. The defendant argues that Strauch's failure to obtain express authorization for HSUS's aid from the magistrate who issued the search warrant was constitutionally unreasonable. The court found no instance in which a court has held that the failure to obtain express judicial authorization for citizen aid prior to the execution of a warrant rendered the subsequent search unconstitutional. While other courts have opined that is might be a "better practice" to disclose this matter when applying to the magistrate for a search warrant, failure to do so does not itself violate the Fourth Amendment. The pertinent inquiry is whether the search was reasonable in its execution, and any citizen involvement would be held to that scrutiny. The court concluded that the state did not violate the constitution by failing to obtain authorization for HSUS's involvement prior to the warrant's execution. Affirmed.
Cetacean Cmty. v. President of the United States 249 F. Supp. 2d 1206 (D.C. Hawaii, 2003) Plaintiff, a community of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, sued Defendants, the President of the United States and the United States Secretary of Defense, alleging violations of the (NEPA), the (APA), the (ESA), and the (MMPA).  The Plaintffs were concerned with the United States Navy's development and use of a low frequency active sonar (LFAS) system. The community alleged a failure to comply with statutory requirements with respect to LFAS use during threat and warfare conditions.
Coffey v. Bureau of Land Mgmt. 249 F.Supp.3d 488 (D.D.C. Apr. 20, 2017) As the court here states, "Plaintiff Debbie Coffey knows a great deal about wild horses and burros—and how those animals are treated by the federal Bureau of Land Management—but she wants to learn more." As such, Plaintiff, a hose welfare advocate, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the BLM to obtain communications between its officials and private citizens, namely those with long-term holding contracts, involved in the Wild Horse and Burro Program. In conjunction with her request, the BLM charged plaintiff $1,680 in processing fees, but ultimately refunded her the fees a year and half later because it failed to meet FOIA statutory response deadlines. On appeal, Coffey filed a FOIA suit and both sides moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff first argues that the BLM violated FOIA when it failed to give her interest on her processing fees. The court, however, found that awarding interest here would violate the longstanding "no-interest rule," where there was no congressional intent to award interest in such cases. As to plaintiff's argument that BLM's search for records was inadequate, the court agreed with plaintiff that the words and phrases used by BLM were too limiting to meet plaintiff's request and were thus unreasonable. The court held that BLM must choose a different set of search terms (including those suggested by plaintiff) and conduct the FOIA search again. However, the court found that plaintiff's additional contentions that: (1) the search terms were too vague; (2) the database and software needed to be identified; and (3) BLM needed to also include phone records in its search to be without merit. The parties' motions for summary judgment were granted in part and denied in part.
U.S. v. McDougall 25 F.Supp.2d 85 (N.D.N.Y. 1998)

Defendants Goodfriend and Benney, commercial fishermen licensed pursuant to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC"), are charged with catching and failing to return substantial quantities of eel and walleye from Lake Ontario and New York waters in violation of  New York law that prohibits commerce in these fish because of health and conservation concerns.  Aware of the ban prohibiting the sale of eel and walleye taken from these waters, Goodfriend and Benney subsequently sold the eel and walleye to a host of fish wholesalers and retailers, located within and outside New York.  Defendant truck driver's alleged filing of false Canadian customs forms relating to eel and walleye he was transporting from the U.S. to his Canadian employer were violations of the Lacey Act, regardless of whether these acts violated Canadian law.

Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources v. Whitetail Bluff, LLC 25 N.E.3d 218 (Ind. Ct. App. 2015) Appellee established a business that allowed for "high fence" hunting, which refers to hunting wild animals on property that is enclosed by a fence, of privately-owned whitetail deer. The pivotal question in this appeals case was whether the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) was correct in asserting that the current statutory scheme prohibited this practice, and therefore allowed the agency to promulgate rules effectuating that prohibition. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that IDNR did not have the power to regulate fish and wildlife that were legally owned or held in captivity under a license. The IDNR therefore went beyond its express powers conferred upon it by the General Assembly when it promulgated rules that prohibited "high fence" hunting. The lower court's grant of summary judgment to the appellee was affirmed.
Propes v. Griffith 25 S.W.3d 544 (Mo.App. W.D., 2000)

At issue on this appeal to a punitive damages award, is whether defendant's conduct in shooting her neighbors' two dogs was privileged under a Missouri statute that allows a livestock owner to kill dogs that are in the act of chasing sheep.  The court held that there was absolutely no evidence indicating the Propes' dogs, or for that matter that any dog, was the cause of the previous attack on the Griffiths' sheep and more sheep were attacked after the dogs had been euthanized.  Upon review, the court held that the punishment and deterrence of Mrs. Griffith's conduct is the precise reason for assessing punitive damages and the award of punitive damages was not arbitrary.

Sentencia 25000-23-24-000-2011-00227-01(AP) 25000-23-24-000-2011-00227-01(AP) Update: on December 12, 2014, the State Council's Fourth Chamber invalidated the Third Chamber's decision by revoking defendant's license to capture monkeys on the Amazon. This decision resulted from a "Tutela" filed by the defendants arguing procedural and substantive errors. In its decision, State Council stated that the Third Chamber, Subsection C, had violated the fundamental rights to due process and scientific investigation. Therefore, defendants are allowed to hunt and capture night monkeys in the Amazon so long as they meet the requirements and conditions for granting such licenses established in Resolutions 028 of May 13, 2010, and 0632 of June 29, 2919. This case concerns the monkeys used in scientific research in the Colombian Amazon to create a malaria vaccine. In 2012, plaintiff, a primatologist, raised before the Administrative Tribunal in Cundinamarca a series of irregularities incurred by the defendant in the capture and treatment of night monkeys (Aotus vociferans). Through a popular action (A constitutional mechanism to protect collective rights), the plaintiff argued that the defendants were violating collective rights such as administrative morality, the existence of ecological balance and the management and rational use of natural resources, and public safety and health. The defendant, "Fundación Instituto de Inmunología de Colombia" (FIDIC), is a scientific institution dedicated to research and scientific study for creating and developing chemically synthesized vaccines. Manuel Elkin Patarroyo, the Director, is a renowned Colombian scientist and the creator of the first vaccine against malaria accepted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Patarroyo had a license to hunt and capture 800 primates of this species per year for his research against malaria. In her complaint, plaintiff alleged that Patarroyo was illegally trafficking monkeys from Brazil and Peru to Colombian territory, as there was evidence that they were using monkeys from across the border with these countries without complying with legal importation requirements. Furthermore, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was experimenting on monkeys of a different species (Aotus nancymaae) found in Peru and Brazil, for which they did not have the corresponding license. Plaintiff also alleged that specimens of both species were acquired by paying members of native indigenous groups, who captured the animals without permit or supervision from respective authorities. In addition, the plaintiff alleged that governmental authorities did not perform inspections, and there were no records of how many specimens were being used and how they were being treated. Finally, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants released surviving monkeys infected with malaria back into the wild once they were of no use to the laboratory, ignoring the risks that this posed to the ecosystem and indigenous communities. The Administrative Tribunal in Cundinamarca ruled in favor of the plaintiff, revoking the defendant's permit to capture monkeys in the Amazon. Defendants appealed the decision before the Third Chamber of the State Council, which affirmed the revocation of the license. The State Council stated that the defendants had violated the collective rights and affirmed the license revocation to protect the collective rights of wild animals, particularly of the Aotus Vociferans monkeys. This ruling suspended the investigations and ordered disciplinary investigations against the governmental authorities that issued the license. In affirming the tribunal's decision, the court stated: "To the Colombian legislator, animals and plant species (for example, forests, the Amazon, páramos, water sources, resources, etc.) are subject to rights. Therefore, through popular action, any person can request their protection by acting as an unofficial agent of these entities without it being possible to acknowledge that it is a collective-subjective right belonging to society. On the contrary, it is about the express recognition by the Constitution and the Colombian legislator of attributing value in themselves to animals and plant species, for which, in each specific case, the judge must make a judgment by weighting competing interests" (...) "humans can use animals for survival, company, research, work, or recreational activities, but without violating the rights that assist them."
Banks v. Adair 251 S.E.2d 88 (Ga.App., 1978)
In this Georgia dog bite case, plaintiffs appealed a directed verdict for the defendant. The Court of Appeals held that the verdict was properly directed for defendant where there was no evidence that established the defendant's knowledge of his dog's propensity to bite or injure humans.
Anne Arundel County v. Reeves 252 A.3d 921 (Md., 2021) This Maryland case examines the scope of compensatory damages available forf the tortious injury or death of a pet under Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. (“CJP”) § 11-110, a law that allow pet owner to recover damages for the tort-based death or injury of their pet up to a capped level. The incident giving rise to this case occurred when Anne Arundel County Police Officer Rodney Price shot Micheal Reeves' dog in the front yard of Mr. Reeves' home. Officer Price was going door-to-door inquiring with residents after a recent spate of burglaries. Mr. Reeves' dog Vern burst from the front storm door and put his paw on the officer's forearm. While Officer Price stepped back and pushed the dog away, he testified that he did not vocalize any commands to the dog at that time, and, instead, decided to shoot the dog. Testimony by a veterinary pathologist at trial revealed that, if the dog were going for the officer's face as Price testified, this would have been improbable based on the dog's size as compared to the officer. Further, there was no dirt on that area of the officer's arm/chest nor any marks from the dog's paws. After a jury trial, a verdict was returned in favor of Mr. Reeves for $10,000 for the trespass to chattel claim, and $500,000 in economic damages and $750,000 in noneconomic damages for the gross negligence claim. The circuit court then reduced the gross negligence damages to $200,000 pursuant to the Local Government Tort Claims Act (“LGTCA”). CJP § 5-301 et seq. The circuit court also reduced the trespass to chattel damages to $7,500 pursuant to the then-applicable damages cap in CJP § 11-110.1. The Court of Special Appeals held in an unreported divided decision that the statute did not bar recovery of noneconomic damages. On appeal here, this court now holds that CJP § 11-110 limits the recovery for compensatory damages to the amount specified by that statute and does not allow for recovery of noneconomic compensatory damages. And while the court found there was legally sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that Officer Price was grossly negligent, it also held that Mr. Reeves could not recover these damages due to Maryland's single recovery rule. As a matter of first impression, this court found CJP § 11-110's plain language evinces an intent to exclude those things not expressed in the statute. In other words, because the legislature defined the specific types of compensatory damages it allows, it intended to exclude other forms of damages like noneconomic damages. Further, the court found the plaintiff's reading of the statute "illogical" because economic damages would be capped, but yet noneconomic damages would not be. Thus, it would be up to the General Assembly to expressly provide for noneconomic damages in amendments to the statute. The court ultimately concluded that the statute defines and caps the recovery of compensatory damages in the case of the tortious death or injury of a pet and the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals was affirmed in part and reversed in part. The dissent noted the majority decision created a "double anomaly" in Maryland law by capping damages for victims of a tortfeasor who kills their dog but allowing a fraudster who intentionally tricks a family into selling a painting of their dog unlimited damages. Further, the dissent argued the majority ignored both judicial and ethical trends regarding pets in society and disregards the legislative debate when the statute was re-enacted showing an intent to include higher damages amounts.
Hargrove v. State 253 Ga. 450 (1984)

Defendants were convicted by the Mitchell Superior Court, Robert Culpepper, Jr., Senior Judge, of dogfighting and gambling and two of the defendants were convicted of commercial gambling, and they appealed. The Supreme Court, Clarke, J., held that: (1) the statute prohibiting dogfighting is not unconstitutionally vague, and does not violate equal protection; (2) penalty provided for violating the dogfighting statute does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment; (3) evidence was sufficient to support convictions; (4) dogfighting is not as a matter of law a lesser included offense of commercial gambling; and (5) dogfighting was not as a matter of fact a lesser included offense of commercial gambling.

Moody v. State 253 Ga. 456 (1984)

Fifty-nine defendants appealed a judgment, which overruled a motion quash an indictment charging defendants with violating the dogfighting statute, O.C.G.A. §   16-12-37 . The court ruled the statute was not unconstitutionally overbroad, and that it required knowing and consensual involvement in dogfighting, therefore intent. The court further ruled that the law prohibited participation by gambling on the act, and the statute did not infringe on constitutionally protected conduct.

Barton v. State 253 Ga. 478 (1984)

Four defendants were convicted of dog fighting in violation of O.C.G.A. §   16-12-37 and they were also convicted of gambling in violation of O.C.G.A. §   16-12-21(a)(1) . On appeal, the court rejected the constitutional attacks on §   16-12-37. The court affirmed the convictions only with respect to one defendant and reversed the convictions as to the remaining three defendants based upon the sufficiency of the evidence.

253-20-JH/22 The case of Estrellita 253-20-JH/22 This is the unprecedented case of Estrellita, a woolly monkey, and the first animal with the status of subject of rights in Ecuador. Estrellita was illegally taken from her habitat as a baby and sold to a family that kept her as a pet for 18 years. The authorities became aware of Estrellita after an anonymous report stating that the Plaintiff was keeping a wild animal in their home. Estrellita was seized and relocated to a nearby zoo. The owner of Estrellita filed a habeas corpus requesting that Estrellita be returned to her, as she was a family member. Sadly, Estrellita died while under the care of the authorities. Despite the family's heartfelt plea, the court denied the habeas corpus, deciding that the best course of action was to keep Estrellita in the zoo - a decision that ultimately cost her life. The Constitutional Court decided to hear the case because it considered it had questions that needed to be answered. In a 7-2 court ruling, Ecuador's Constitutional Court held that animals are subjects of rights protected by the rights of nature. (In Ecuador, nature has been granted rights under the 2008 Constitution). The court found that both the Plaintiff and the authorities had violated Estrellita's rights to life and integrity by taking her from the wild and, in the government's case, by ignoring her needs when relocating her to the zoo. The court further held that the writ of habeas corpus could be appropriate in animal cases, depending on the circumstances. Another significant outcome of this decision is that the court instructed the Ministry of Environment and the Ombudsman to draft new legislation that materializes the parameters and criteria outlined in its decision. This legislation is essential in creating a legal framework to protect animals and ensure their rights are respected.
Bushnell v. Mott 254 S.W.3d 451 (Tex.,2008)

In this Texas case, the plaintiff (Bushnell) brought an action against the defendant (Mott) for her injuries sustained when defendant's dogs attacked plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment to defendant. The Texas Supreme Court reversed, and held that the owner of a dog not known to be vicious owes a duty to attempt to stop the dog from attacking a person after the attack has begun, and Mott's behavior after the attack had begun raises an issue of material fact whether Mott failed to exercise ordinary care over her dogs.

Carter v. Metro North Associates 255 A.D.2d 251, 1998 N.Y. Slip Op. 10266 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,1998)

In this New York case, a tenant sued his landlords for injuries after he was bitten on face by pit bull owned by another tenant. The lower court denied the landlords' motion for summary judgment and granted partial summary judgment for tenant on issue of liability. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division held that the trial court erroneously took judicial notice of vicious nature of breed of pit bulls as a whole. In fact, the court found that the IAS court "erred in circumventing the requirement for evidence concerning the particular animal by purporting to take judicial notice of the vicious nature of the breed as a whole." Thus, the landlords were not strictly liable for the tenant's injuries where there was no evidence indicating that the dog had ever attacked any other person or previously displayed any vicious behavior.

Pedersen v. Benson 255 F.2d 524 (C.A.D.C. 1958)

In the matter of Pedersen v. Benson , an importer had a permit to import five giraffes from Kenya, three of which were sold and released to public zoos after the requisite quarantine period.  The other two were bought by ‘Africa USA,’ but not released.  One of them had a heart attack and died.  Plaintiff’s filed suit to have the other one they purchased released.  The permits, issued by APHIS, were issued under the further understanding that all the giraffes would be consigned to an approved zoological park (Africa USA is a privately-owned zoo).  The Court found no basis to uphold the government’s claim that a government officer may impose an ad hoc system of licensure upon any citizen, or upon any one group, i.e. private zoos, as opposed to another.  Here, the importation was specifically permitted for all five animals, and any one animal was just as much a potential carrier of hoof and mouth disease as this particular giraffe.  Therefore, this matter was dismissed for failure to state a cognizable claim. 

U.S. v. Oliver 255 F.3d 588 (8th Cir. 2001)

Despite delays in receiving eagle parts through the federal permit process, the court rules the BGEPA does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  There is nothing so peculiar about defendant's situation to allow a one-man exception.  For further discussion on religious challenges to the BGEPA by Native Americans, see Detailed Discussion of Eagle Act .

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