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Titlesort descending Citation Alternate Citation Summary Type
Edwards v. Shanley 666 F.3d 1289 (C.A.11 (Fla.)) 2012 WL 89193 (C.A.11 (Fla.))

Automobile driver fled scene of a traffic stop and sustained serious injuries when he was attacked by a police dog, which was allowed to continue for 5 - 7 minutes. Plaintiff brought § 1983 action, alleging that the use of the police dog constituted excessive force, and that the other officer failed to intervene and stop the attack, both of which violated plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Court of Appeals held that the use of the police dog to help track and initially subdue the driver was constitutional, but permitting the dog to continue to attack the driver constituted excessive force.

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Fabrikant v. French 691 F.3d 193 (C.A.2 (N.Y.), 2012) 2012 WL 3518527 (C.A.2 (N.Y.), 2012)

After multiple negative reports came in about the living conditions of her animals, an animal rescue organization seized many of the plaintiff-appellant's dogs; she was then charged with five counts of animal cruelty, but was later acquitted at a state trial. Subsequently, the plaintiff-appellant and her state trial attorney filed a federal civil rights suit against the animal organization and others.  After losing at the district level, on the first appeal, and on remand from the first appeal, the plaintiff-appellant appealed the case for a second time. On this appeal, the Second Circuit held that though the animal organization was a state actor, it had qualified immunity, which protected it from the plaintiff-appellant’s charges. Additionally, the court held that investigator’s had probable cause to seize the dogs, which also defeated the plaintiff-appellant’s charges. The lower court’s decision was therefore affirmed, but for different reasons.

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Fabrikant v. French 722 F.Supp.2d 249 (N.D.N.Y., 2010) 2010 WL 2774043 (N.D.N.Y.)

Plaintiff Jody Fabrikant, who had recently placed an advertisement for the adoption of puppies, was in possession of fifteen animals, including fourteen dogs and one cat. Reacting to several complaints regarding the animals’ treatment, defendants, the Ulster County SPCA and employees, executed a search warrant resulting in Fabrikant's arrest and seizure of thirteen of her fifteen animals. Plaintiff subsequently asserted that her federal constitutional rights were violated during the course of her criminal prosecution for animal cruelty. With respect to all four federal claims, the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York granted defendants’ motions for summary judgment since the existence of probable cause (e.g., video recordings and photographs of the condition of the plaintiff’s home) insulated the defendants from liability for their decisions to seize Plaintiff's animals.

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Flint v. City of Milwaukee 552 F.Supp.2d 826 (E.D. Wis. 2008) 2015 WL 1523891 (E.D. Wis. 2015) In 2010, police obtained a warrant to search plaintiff’s residence for endangered species. While at the plaintiff’s residence, police shot and killed two Tibetan Mastiffs. Plaintiff was arrested and detained by police in an on the scene determination that she had violated Wisconsin's endangered species and mistreatment of animals law. These charges were later dropped. Plaintiff filed a section 1983 suit—asserting that defendants not only unlawfully searched her residence, seized and "slaughter[ed] ... her dogs," but that they also unlawfully detained her in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. After District Court denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on her unlawful detention claim, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration. District Court denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration because she had not cited any intervening change in the law, any erroneous application of the law, or any newly discovered evidence that would compel the Court to reconsider its decision. Additionally, the District Court found the court had reviewed the unlawful detention claim using the proper legal standard. Case
Folkers v. City of Waterloo, Iowa 582 F.Supp.2d 1141 (N.D.Iowa,2008) 2008 WL 4703392

Plaintiff brought civil rights action against the City of Waterloo, Iowa (City) alleging procedural and substantive due process violations after Animal Control Officers seized Plaintiff’s dog and detained the dog for one hundred days while an appeal was pending.   On Plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment, the United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division, found that the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause did not apply to Plaintiff’s claim, the Animal Control Officers were acting under color of state law, and that the one hundred day detention of Plaintiff’s dog was a meaningful interference with Plaintiff’s possessory interest in his dog.   The Court also found that Plaintiff’s right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment was satisfied by the post-deprivation hearing provided Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s claim that the decision to detain Plaintiff’s dog was unreasonable or arbitrary, implicated the “unreasonable seizure” provisions of the Fourth Amendment, rather than the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that even if the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment were otherwise applicable, Plaintiff would not have been entitled to relief under the substantive due process provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Fuller v. Vines 36 F3d 65 (9th Cir. 1994)

Motion for leave to amend § 1983 civil rights complaint to add claims that police officer violated Fourth Amendment by shooting pet dog and by pointing gun at one plaintiff was denied and the United States District Court for the Northern District of California entered summary judgment in favor of police officers and city. Plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) killing of pet dog stated Fourth Amendment violation, but (2) no seizure of plaintiff occurred when police pointed gun.

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Giaconia v. Delaware County Soc. for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Slip Copy, 2008 WL 4442632 (E.D.Pa.)

Plaintiff brought various claims against Defendants after Plaintiff’s cat was euthanized prior to the standard 72 hour waiting period.   On Defendants’ motion to dismiss, the United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania found that Defendants were not acting under color of law.   Because any and all claims for which the Court had original jurisdiction were being dismissed, the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s State law claims.  

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Gregory v. City of Vallejo, et al. 63 F.Supp.3d 1171 (E.D. Cal. 2014) In this case, the plaintiff’s dog was shot by a police officer who was responding to the plaintiff’s call for police assistance in investigating a bank fraud matter. Upon arrival at the home, the officer entered the low-fenced front yard and two of the plaintiff’s dogs approached. The officer, the only eyewitness to the encounter, then shot and killed one of the plaintiff’s dogs. The plaintiff filed suit against the officer and municipality, and alleged, inter alia, violations of her Fourth Amendment rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of state statutes. The court held that enough factual issues were disputed to deny the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, specifically that there was a genuine dispute as to whether the killing of the dog was reasonable. Case
Harlow v. Fitzgerald 457 US 800 (1982)

Plaintiff brought suit for damages based on his allegedly unlawful discharge from employment in Department of Air Force.  U.S. Supreme Court reviewed immunity issues and held that while presidential aides are entitled to qualified immunity, government officials performing discretionary functions are shielded only where their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights.

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Hartlee v. Hardey Not Reported in F.Supp.3d, 2015 WL 5719644 (D. Colo. Sept. 29, 2015)

Plaintiffs filed suit against a veterinarian and a number of police officers who were involved in their prosecution of animal cruelty. Plaintiffs Switf and Hatlee worked together on a Echo Valley Ranch where they provided care and boarding for horses. In February 2012, Officer Smith went to Echo Valley Ranch to conduct a welfare check on the horses. Officer Smith noticed that the horses seemed to be in poor condition, so he requested that a veternarian visis the ranch to inspect the horses. Dr. Olds, a local veterinarian, visited the ranch and wrote a report that suggested that the horses be seized due to their current state. Officer Smith initially served plaintiffs with a warning but after returning to the ranch and noticing that the horses’ condition had worsened, the horses were seized and plaintiffs were charged with animal cruelty. In this case, plaintiffs argued that the veterinarian had wrote the medical report for a “publicity stunt” and that this report influenced Officer’s Smith’s decision to seize the horses and charge plaintiffs with animal cruelty. The court ultimately found that the veterinarian’s report was not made as a “publicity stunt,” especially due to the fact that the report was filed privately and not made available to the public. Also, the court found that there was no evidence to suggest that the veterinarian and the officers were working with one another in a “conspiracy” to seize the horses and charge plaintiffs with animal cruelty.

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