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United Pet Supply, Inc. v. City of Chattanooga, Tenn. 768 F.3d 464 (6th Cir. 2014) 2014 WL 4637546 (6th Cir. 2014) In June 2010, a private non-profit corporation that contracted with the City of Chattanooga to provide animal-welfare services, received complaints of neglect and unsanitary conditions at a mall pet store. Investigations revealed animals in unpleasant conditions, without water, and with no working air conditioner in the store. Animals were removed from the store, as were various business records, and the private, contracted non-profit began to revoke the store's pet-dealer permit. Pet store owners brought a § 1983 suit in federal district court against the City of Chattanooga; McKamey; and McKamey employees Karen Walsh, Marvin Nicholson, Jr., and Paula Hurn in their individual and official capacities. The Owners alleged that the removal of its animals and revocation of its pet-dealer permit without a prior hearing violated procedural due process and that the warrantless seizure of its animals and business records violated the Fourth Amendment. Walsh, Nicholson, Hurn, and McKamey asserted qualified immunity as a defense to all claims. On appeal from district court decision, the Sixth Circuit held the following: Hurn, acting as a private animal-welfare officer, could not assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in her personal capacity because there was no history of immunity for animal-welfare officers and allowing her to assert qualified immunity was not consistent with the purpose of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Walsh and Nicholson acting both as private animal-welfare officers and as specially-commissioned police officers of the City of Chattanooga, may assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in their personal capacities. With respect to entitlement to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity in the procedural due-process claims: Walsh and Nicholson are entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the animals, Nicholson is entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the permit, and Walsh is denied summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the permit. Regarding entitlement to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment claims: Walsh and Nicholson are entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the animals, Nicholson is entitled to summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the business records, and Walsh is denied summary judgment on the claim based on the seizure of the business records.Because qualified immunity was not an available defense to an official-capacity suit, the court held that employees may not assert qualified immunity as a defense against suit in their official capacities. The district court’s entry of summary judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Case
U.S. v. Jacobsen 466 US 109 (1984)

Defendants were convicted in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota of possession of an illegal substance with intent to distribute, and they appealed. This case discussed searches and seizures and the Fourth Amendment.

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U.S. v. Gregory (Unpublished Opinion) 933 F.2d 1016 (1991)

Defendant challenged the search of his residence in a drug raid in which his dog was shot.  The court held that the shooting of Gregory's dog was done excusably by an officer who reacted quickly in a potentially dangerous situation to a perceived attack by an animal reasonably believed to be an attack dog. The shooting of the dog did not render the search unreasonable.

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Thorp v. District of Columbia 319 F. Supp. 3d 1, 20 (D.D.C.), reconsideration denied, 327 F. Supp. 3d 186 (D.D.C. 2018) Two officers were stationed in a church parking lot near the home of Plaintiff, Mark Thorp. The two officers claimed they saw and heard the plaintiff “forcefully strike” his dog. The plaintiff then took the dog inside and would not speak with the officers. The officers reported the incidence to a Washington Humane Society Law Enforcement Officer who applied for a search warrant of plaintiff’s home. The warrant was subsequently approved. The Lieutenant who led the team that executed the search warrant on the plaintiff’s home previously had a sexual relationship with the plaintiff’s ex-girlfriend. During the search, the officers secured the dog and concluded that the dog was uninjured and in good health exhibiting no signs of abuse. The search warrant was only approved for evidence of animal cruelty/neglect, however, the search continued even after the plaintiff’s dog had been found in good health. The plaintiff believes that the search continued because the officers wanted to find drugs in his home. Plaintiff believes that the search for animal cruelty was just a disguise so that the officers could search for drugs. The officers found in the plaintiff’s freezer two zip-loc bags full of capsules which turned out to be amphetamines. The plaintiff insists he had a prescription for the pills. A second warrant was issued for evidence of drugs and related materials. After the second search, the officers found additional drugs and drug paraphernalia in the house. The plaintiff was charged with animal cruelty and possession of illegal drugs, however, the prosecutor abandoned the case and all criminal charges were dismissed. Plaintiff brought this action seeking redress for his injuries against the Lieutenant who led the search and the District. Both parties filed Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff claims his fourth amendment rights were violated under section 1983. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that the first animal-cruelty warrant application was deficient and made at the behest of the Lieutenant and that false information was used on the warrant application. The Court rejects this argument because the plaintiff abandoned the fact that the two officers fabricated the warrant application at the behest of the Lieutenant. The Court, therefore, concluded that the Lieutenant played no role in preparing or submitting the warrant application. Next the plaintiff contends that the Lieutenant’s reliance on the warrant was improper. The Court concluded that since the Lieutenant had no part int the warrant application, he had no reason to distrust its contents. The warrant was facially valid and as a result, the Court cannot hold the Lieutenant responsible for executing it. Plaintiff contended that the Lieutenant exceeded the scope of the first warrant because the rummaging around in closed spaces after the search was considered finished exceeded the scope. The Court disagreed and concluded that the warrant authorized a search for animals that were dead or alive and an animal can surely fit in a freezer. The Court said that the Lieutenant’s “judgment that the scope of the warrant was supported by probable cause may have been mistaken, but it was not plainly incompetent.” Next the plaintiff argues that the second warrant was invalid. The Court reasoned that since the Lieutenant could have reasonably believed that he had authority to search the freezer, it would also be reasonable for him to obtain a warrant based on its contents. Plaintiff also contended that the pills in the freezer were not in plain sight. However, the photos that the plaintiff used to prove his point actually belies this claim because the Court could clearly make out the same clear plastic baggies with pills in both pictures. Next the plaintiff argues that the warrantless field test of the methamphetamines was improper. The Court concluded that field tests of methamphetamine are not recognized as a search and therefore do not implicate Fourth Amendment protections. Even if that were the case, qualified immunity would shield the Lieutenant from civil liability. Next the plaintiff argues that his arrest was without probable cause. The Court stated that given the amount of drug evidence that was found in the second search, there was enough probable cause to arrest the plaintiff. Next the plaintiff argues that the execution of the warrants unnecessarily cause property damage. The plaintiff failed to challenge this claim because he did not accompany it with specific points of law to support it. The Court refused to decide this matter. Finally, plaintiff argues that the officers unlawfully seized more than $53,000 in cash from the apartment. This claim also falls outside of the lawsuit because the plaintiff failed to make mention of it in his complaint. The plaintiff lastly alleges that the district negligently supervised and retained the lieutenant and he asserts a claim of abuse of process. The plaintiff failed to show that the Lieutenant engaged in behavior that should have put his employer on notice that he required additional training or that he was dangerous or otherwise incompetent. As for the abuse of process claim, plaintiff alleges two acts: Lieutenant’s arrest of him and the seizure of his property. The court held that the Lieutenant’s warrantless actions cannot sustain an abuse of process claim. The Court ultimately granted the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and denied the Plaintiff’s Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Case
Theis v. Yuba County Sheriff's Department Slip Copy, 2019 WL 3006261 (E.D. Cal. July 10, 2019) The Plaintiffs allege that their cat, named Pizza, was unlawfully euthanized at Yuba County Animal Care Services shelter in Olivehurst, California on or about February 9, 2018. Pizza went missing on or about February 9, 2018 and Plaintiffs found out later that same day that a neighbor had found the cat and brought it to the Yuba County animal shelter. The Plaintiffs attempted to contact the shelter, but it had already closed for the evening. The next morning around 9:30 a.m., the Plaintiffs arrived at the shelter and learned that Pizza had been euthanized as early as 5:00 p.m. the night before. Defendant Barnhill, the shelter’s supervising officer, informed the Plaintiff’s that Pizza had been injured, however, the neighbor who brought the cat to the shelter without knowing it was the Plaintiffs’ described Pizza as looking healthy. The Plaintiffs contend that Pizza’s euthanization falls within an ongoing pattern and practice of abuse and failure to follow state and federal law. Plaintiffs filed their original complaint on October 1, 2018. The Defendants removed the case to federal court. Plaintiff’s asserted four claims in their First Amended Complaint: (1) the failure to perform mandatory duties in violation of California Government Code section 815.6, (2) petition for a writ of mandate under California Code of Civil Procedure section 1085, (3) violation of the plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, (4) negligence under California common law. The Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint and alleged that the Plaintiff’s did not plead facts sufficient to show that Barnhill engaged in unlawful conduct or to establish a substantive or procedural due process violation. The Court, however, granted the Plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint as to the section 1983 claim. The Court declined to assert supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, which were the Plaintiff’s first, second, and fourth claims since the Plaintiff’s had conceded that their federal claim by requesting to amend their complaint. As a result, the Court reviewed remaining claims to determine whether they may be included in any amended complaint or whether leave to amend would be futile. The Court determined that granting Plaintiff’s leave to file a second amended complaint would not be futile on all of their claims except for the petition for writ of mandate claim. California’s Civil Procedure Code section 1085 does not apply to federal courts and, therefore, the Plaintiff’s leave to amend this claim would be futile. Ultimately, the Court ordered Plaintiff’s third cause of action for violations of their Fourteenth Amendment substantive and procedural due process rights be dismissed with leave to amend, the Plaintiff’s state law claims in their first, second, and fourth causes of action be dismissed with leave to amend to the extent consistent with the order, and denied the Defendant's motions to strike Plaintiffs' punitive damages claim. Plaintiffs were required to file a second amended complaint within 21 days of the date the order was filed if they wished to amend their complaint. Case
Szabla v. City of Brooklyn Park, Mn. 429 F.3d 1168 (8th Cir., 2005) 2005 WL 3209151 (8th Cir.)

A homeless man was mistaken for the driver of a crashed car while sleeping in a public park and was bitten by a police dog.  The homeless man brought claims under Section 1983 claiming his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the police department and city, but the Court of Appeals remanded the issue of excessive force. Rehearing en Banc Granted in Part, Opinion Vacated in Part by Szabla v. City of Brooklyn Park, MN , 429 F.3d 1289 (8th Cir., 2006).

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Szabla v. City of Brooklyn Park, MN 437 F.3d 1289 (8th Cir. 2006)

After an 8th Circuit decision to affirm the district court's summary judgment against Szabla and to reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the City of Brooklyn Park, the City of Brooklyn Park filed a petition requesting a hearing en blanc. The 8th Circuit granted the petition, but limited the en blanc hearing to the issues raised in the city’s petition.  In all other respects, however, the Szabla v. City of Brooklyn Park, Mn., 429 F.3d 1168 (8th Cir. 2005) panel opinion and judgment were reinstated. Szabla v. City of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, 486 F.3d 385 (8th Cir. 2007).

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Szabla v. City of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota 486 F.3d 85 (8th Cir. 2007)
A man who was bitten by a police dog brought a § 1983 action against two cities and police officers for violating his Fourth Amendment rights; the man also brought some state laws claims against the defendants as well. When the district court granted Minnesota’s motion for summary judgment, the park occupant appealed and the appeals court reversed the lower court’s decision. The appeals court also granted a petition to rehear, en banc, the question of the city’s municipal liability and found that the city was entitled to summary judgment on that claim. Circuit Judge Gibson filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Wollman, Bye, and Melloy.
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State v. Murphy 10 A.3d 697 (Me.,2010) 2010 ME 140; 2010 WL 5353130 (Me.)

Defendant appeals her convictions for assault of an officer, refusing to submit to arrest, criminal use of an electronic weapon, and two counts of cruelty to animals. In October 2009, a state police trooper was dispatched to defendant's home to investigate complaints that she was keeping animals despite a lifetime ban imposed after her 2004 animal cruelty conviction. The appellate found each of her five claims frivolous, and instead directed its inquiry as to whether the trial court correctly refused recusal at defendant's request. This court found that the trial court acted with "commendable restraint and responsible concern for Murphy's fundamental rights," especially in light of defendant's outbursts and provocations.

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Southbark, Inc. v. Mobile County Com'n 974 F.Supp.2d 1372 (S.D.Ala.,2013) 2013 WL 5423806 (S.D.Ala.,2013)

In the past, SouthBARK, a charitable non-profit no kill shelter, acquired dogs from the Mobile County Animal Shelter (MCAS) to prevent their euthanization. However, after a SouthBARK employee threatened a shelter worker and after numerous statements from SouthBark about the number of animals being killed at MCAS, MCAS refused to let SouthBARK take anymore dogs for a 6 month period. After the 6 month period, MCAS allowed SouthBARK to take dogs again, but soon afterwards sent a letter to SouthBARK informing them that they could not take any more animals. SouthBARK and Dusty Feller, the Vice President of SouthBARK, brought this action against Mobile County Commission and MCAS. On July 8, Defendants filed a Partial Motion to Dismiss. The District Court granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part, stating that it was "not inclinded to make Defendants' arguments for them."

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