United States

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Burgess v. Taylor


Owner of pet horses sued boarders of horses who sold them for slaughter, asserting tort of outrage, or intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The Court held that: (1) element of tort of outrage, or intentional infliction of emotional distress, requiring outrageous and intolerable conduct depends on conduct of wrongdoer, not subject of conduct; (2) boarders' actions constituted tort of outrage; and (3) award of $50,000 compensatory damages and $75,000 punitive damages was not excessive.

Burgess v. Shampooch Pet Industries, Inc.


This Kansas case presents an issue of first impression as to the proper measure of damages recoverable for injury to a pet dog.  The plaintiff's dog, a 13-year old dog of negligible market value, suffered a dislocated hip after being groomed at defendant's establishment.  The appellate court found the lower court's award of damages based on the veterinary bills was proper where the bills were not disputed and represented an easily ascertainable measure.  Specifically, the court held that 

when an injured pet dog with no discernable market value is restored to its previous health, the measure of damages may include, but is not limited to, the reasonable and customary cost of necessary veterinary care and treatment.

The court was unconvinced by defendant's "hyperbolic" claim that such an award would lead to a floodgate of high-dollar litigation on behalf of animals with low market values.

Bundorf v. Jewell Plaintiffs, individuals and environmental organizations, challenged a decision by the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) to authorize two rights-of-way for the Searchlight Wind Energy Project (“Project”) in southern Nevada (on BLM land) under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). After the District Court remanded to the BLM for further explanation, the plaintiffs moved for a permanent injunction. Plaintiffs raised claims that the activity violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), among other federal statutes. In effect, the plaintiffs argue that when the Court remanded for further explanation, it essentially reached the merits of their NEPA and ESA claims "by identifying explanatory gaps in the Remand Order." This then necessitated vacatur of the Record of Decision (“ROD”), Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”), and the Biological Opinion (“BiOp”). On appeal, the Court agreed with plaintiffs that clarification of the Remand Order is appropriate to include the ROD, the FEIS, and the BiOp with vacatur. Otherwise, the court notes, the Federal Defendants would get "two bites at the same apple . . . to fill the analytical gaps the Court identified in the Remand Order." The Federal Defendants must address the gaps related to: "(1) the density of desert tortoises, the adverse effects on desert tortoise habitat due to noise, and the remuneration fees and blasting mitigation measures for desert tortoises; (2) the status of FWS's recommendations regarding eagle take permitting and an Eagle Conservation Plan; and (3) BLM's conclusions about risks to bald eagles, protocols for golden eagle surveys, and risks to and mitigation measures for bat species."
BULLHOOKS AND THE LAW: IS PAIN AND SUFFERING THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM?
Building our Future


As the introduction to Volume 15 of Animal Law, the author reflects on 30 years of progress in the animal law arena.

Buffalo Field Campaign v. Zinke Plaintiffs Buffalo Field Campaign and other environmental groups petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to add the Yellowstone bison population to the federal endangered species list. After the Service made a threshold “90–day” determination that Buffalo Field's petition failed to present sufficient scientific evidence that listing the bison may be warranted, Buffalo Field brought suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, alleging that the Service's determination was arbitrary and capricious. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Service applied an improper standard when evaluating Buffalo Field's petition, granted Buffalo Field's motion for summary judgment, denied the Service's cross-motion, and remanded the case for the agency to conduct a new 90–day finding using the proper standard. In particular, the court observed that the Service "simply picked a side in an ongoing debate in the scientific community," thereby in inappropriately heightening the standard of evaluation for a 90-day petition. Because of that, the court agreed with the Service that remand is the appropriate remedy as opposed to to directing the Service to begin a 12-month review.
Bueckner v. Hamel


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

Browning v. State


The Brownings were each charged with 32 counts of animal cruelty and convicted of five counts for their failure to provide adequate nutrition and veterinary care to their horses and cattle.  As a result, Cass County seized and boarded several of their animals at a significant cost to the county.  Although only five of those horses and cattle were ultimately deemed to be the subject of the defendants' cruelty, the appellate court affirmed the order requiring the Brownings to reimburse the county for boarding and caring for the horses and cattle during the proceedings totaling approximately $14,000 in fines and costs.

BROWN v. TOWN OF SOUTHBURY


This Connecticut decision in 1885 held consequential losses as a result of the harm to an animal (a horse) to be a proper element of damages in addition to the fair market value of the animal. Specifically, the court applied fair market value, but disallowed consequential damages for lost profits where plaintiff failed to show an effort to mitigate such damages.

Brown v. State Defendant was found guilty of felony cruelty to animals after a Chow mix was found near defendant's mobile home emaciated and suffering from several long-term conditions that had gone untreated. Defendant was convicted in the Circuit Court, Pasco County and was sentenced to six months of community control followed by three years of probation. She timely appealed, raising several arguments. The District Court of Florida affirmed the trial court’s decision, writing only to address her claim that the trial court erred in denying her motion for judgment of acquittal because a felony conviction for animal cruelty Florida Statutes could not be based on an omission or failure to act. In doing so, the court noted that a defendant could be properly charged with felony animal cruelty under this version of the Florida statute for intentionally committing an act that resulted in excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal by failing to provide adequate food, water, or medical treatment. The court then held that sufficient evidence existed showing that defendant owned a dog and failed, over a period of more than one year, to provide adequate food, water and needed medical care.

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