United States

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Titlesort descending Summary
Wade v. Rich


Plaintiff sued dog owners for injuries from a dog attack.  The jury ruled in favor of plaintiff for medical expenses, and plaintiff sought a new trial as to damages only.  The court held that a new trial on damages was appropriate because the jury's failure to award damages for pain and suffering was against the manifest weight of evidence as defendant's liability was established by the viciousness of the dog repeatedly biting plaintiff about the head and face, which was out of proportion to the unintentional act of plaintiff falling onto the sleeping dog.  Unintentional or accidental acts can


constitute provocation, but not if the dog responds with a vicious attack, as it did here, that is out of all proportion to the unintentional acts involved.

Walker-Serrano ex rel. Walker v. Leonard


Public school student circulated a petition during class and recess that opposed a school field trip to the circus. School officials prevented her from circulating the petition, and she complained of a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the school, holding that the student's rights had not been violated because a school may regulate the times and circumstances a petition may be circulated when it interferes with educational goals or the rights of other students.

Wall v. City of Brookfield


A dog that was constantly in violation of local leash ordinances was held as a stray by the town.  The owner of the dog brought a section 1983 action claiming deprivation of the dog's companionship without due process and the trial court held in favor of the town.  The Court of Appeals affirmed reasoning that only a post-deprivation hearing was necessary under the statute (which defendant could have received had she filed a petition with the court).

Wallen v. City of Mobile Wallen appeals her convictions for six counts of violating Mobile, Alabama's public nuisance ordinances. The nuisance convictions stem from an anonymous complaint about multiple barking dogs at Wallen's property. After receiving the tip in March of 2016, an animal control officer drove to the residence, parked across the street, and, as he sat in his car, heard dogs bark continuously for approximately ten minutes. That same day, a local realtor went to house that was for sale behind Wallen's property and heard an "overwhelming" noise of dogs barking continuously for 30-45 minutes. For almost a year, officers received complaints about noise coming from Wallen's house. In May of 2017, Wallen entered a plea of not guilty for multiple charges of violating the public nuisance ordinance in Mobile Circuit Court. She also filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Mobile City Code was unconstitutionally vague. Her motion was later denied, and a jury trial was held where Wallen was found guilty of six counts of violating Mobile's public-nuisance ordinance. On appeal, Wallen first argues that the public nuisance ordinance is unconstitutionally overbroad because it regulates without reference to time, place, and manner. However, the court found that Wallen did not establish how the overbreadth doctrine applied to her case and how the ordinance was unconstitutional. As to her next vagueness challenge, Wallen contended that the ordinance had no objective standards to determine whether a dog's barking is disturbing or unreasonable. This court disagreed, finding the statute defines what are "disturbing noises" (which specifically states barking), and other courts previously established that the term "habit" in a dog-barking statute is not vague. Finally, the found that Wallen's last general argument, that the code is unconstitutional as applied to her, did not satisfy court rules with respect to issues presented and support with authority on appeal. The judgment of the lower court was affirmed.
Warboys v. Proulx


Pitbull owner filed suit seeking compensatory damages arising from the shotting and killing of his dog by police.  Defendants removed the action based on federal question jurisdiction and moved for summary judgment, and the dog owner moved to amend the complaint.  Motions granted.

Ward v. Hartley


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

Ware v. State


In this Alabama case, defendant Walter Tyrone Ware was indicted on six counts of owning, possessing, keeping, and/or training a dog for fighting purposes, and one count of possessing a controlled substance.  Police were dispatched to defendant's residence after receiving an anonymous tip about alleged dogfighting.  Upon arriving, police found a bleeding dog on the ground next to an SUV, a puppy in the SUV, and 22 more pit bull dogs in the backyard.  Most of the dogs were very thin or emaciated, and at least two dogs had fresh cuts or puncture wounds.  On appeal, defendant claimed that there was no evidence that he had attended a dog fight or hosted one.  However, the court observed that Alabama's dogfighting statute does not require such direct evidence; rather, a case was made based on evidence of training equipment, injured dogs, and the dogs' aggressive behavior exhibited at the animal shelter after seizure. 

Warren v. Delvista Towers Condominium Ass'n, Inc. In its motion for summary judgment, Defendant argues Plaintiff’s accommodation request under the Federal Fair Housing Act (the “FHA”) to modify Defendant's “no pet” policy was unreasonable because Plaintiff's emotional support animal was a pit bull and pit bulls were banned by county ordinance. In denying the Defendant’s motion, the District Court found that changing a no pets policy for an emotional support animal was a reasonable accommodation under the FHA. The court also found that enforcing the county ordinance would violate the FHA by permitting a discriminatory housing practice. However, in line with US Department of Housing and Urban Development notices, the court found genuine issues of material fact remained as to whether the dog posed a direct threat to members of the condominium association, and whether that threat could be reduced by other reasonable accommodations.
Washington v. Washington State Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Ass'n


The United States initiated an action seeking an interpretation of Indian fishing rights under treaties with Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest.  The Court held that the language of the treaties securing a "right of taking fish . . . in common with all citizens of the Territory" was not intended merely to guarantee the Indians access to usual and accustomed fishing sites and an "equal opportunity" for individual Indians, along with non-Indians, to try to catch fish, but instead secures to the Indian tribes a right to harvest a share of each run of anadromous fish that passes through tribal fishing areas.  Thus, an equitable measure of the common right to take fish should initially divide the harvestable portion of each run that passes through a "usual and accustomed" place into approximately equal treaty and nontreaty shares, and should then reduce the treaty share if tribal needs may be satisfied by a lesser amount.  The Court also held that any state-law prohibition against compliance with the District Court's decree cannot survive the command of the Supremacy Clause, and the State Game and Fisheries Departments, as parties to this litigation, may be ordered to prepare a set of rules that will implement the court's interpretation of the parties' rights even if state law withholds from them the power to do so.

Waters v. Powell


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.

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