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Titlesort descending Citation Alternate Citation Summary Type
Mayfield v. Bethards 826 F.3d 1252 (10th Cir. 2016) 2016 WL 3397503 (10th Cir. June 20, 2016) In this case, plaintiffs sued defendant, Officer Bethards, for unlawfully killing their pet dog Majka. Plaintiffs' dogs were lying in plaintiffs' unfenced front yard when the officers entered the yard and then followed the dogs to the back of the house, eventually killing one of the dogs. The plaintiffs argued that by unlawfully killing their dog, Officer Bethards violated their constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment by entering the property without a warrant with the intention of killing the dogs. Officer Bethards moved to have the complaint dismissed for a failure to state a claim and the court denied this motion. Specifically, Officer Bethards argued that this was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment because the Fourth Amendment only applies to “effects,” which does not include dogs. The court disagreed, finding that Fourth Amendment protection for pet dogs is a clearly established right. Ultimately, the court held that the plaintiffs asserted facts sufficient to show a violation of their clearly established Fourth Amendment rights and the district court's order denying Deputy Bethards's motion to dismiss was affirmed. Case
McClendon v. Story County Sheriff's Office 403 F.3d 510 (8th Cir. 2005) 403 F.3d 510 (8th Cir. 2005)

A farmer was neglecting her horses and the entire herd confiscated by animal control officers.  The farmer brought a section 1983 claim against the animal control officers for acting outside of the scope of their warrant by removing more than just the sick horses.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in part, holding the animal control officers were entitled to qualified immunity and seizure of all the horses was not unreasonable or outside the scope of the warrant. 

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Milburn v. City of Lebanon 221 F. Supp. 3d 1217 (D. Or. 2016) 2016 WL 6908100 (D. Or. Nov. 21, 2016)

Plaintiff Milburn was acquitted of misdemeanor animal abuse on appeal, but a Lebanon police officer removed Milburns’ dog from her possession. While the appeal was pending, the Defendant, City of Lebanon, gave the dog to an animal shelter. The dog was later adopted by a new owner. The Linn County Circuit Court ordered the City to return the dog to Milburn after the acquittal but the Defendant City failed to comply. Milburn then brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 against the City of Lebanon. The City moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim, and the United States District Court, for the District of Oregon, granted that motion while giving leave for Milburn to amend her complaint. In the Amended Complaint, Milburn contended that the City’s refusal to return her dog pursuant to the state court order deprived her of property without due process of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Milburn also asserted a violation of her procedural due process rights. The United States District Court, for the District of Oregon, reasoned that while Milburn alleged a state-law property interest in her dog, she failed to allege that the Defendant City deprived her of that interest without adequate process. Milburn also did not allege state remedies to be inadequate. Those two omissions in combination were fatal to Miburn's procedural due process claim. Also, Milburn's assertion that the court issued an order and that the City did not comply with, is an attack on the result of the procedure. The court reasoned that attacking the result instead of the process of a procedure does not state a procedural due process claim. Milburn’s procedural due process claim was then dismissed. The Court also held that it did not have jurisdiction over Milburn’s injunctive relief claim. Therefore, Milburn's request for injunctive relief was dismissed with prejudice. However, the court held that Milburn could seek monetary damages. While Defendant City’s second motion to dismiss was granted, Milburn was granted leave to amend her complaint within 90 days with regard to her claim for actual and compensatory damages.

 

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Monell v. Department of Social Services 436 US 658 (1978)

Female employees of the Department of Social Services and the Board of Education of the City of New York brought an action challenging the policies of those bodies in requiring pregnant employees to take unpaid leaves of absence before those leaves were required for medical reasons.  The decision of this case addresses issues of immunity.

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Moreland v. Marion County, Miss. 2008 WL 4551443 (S.D.Miss.)

Plaintiff brought action against Marion County (“County”) and several animal control officers (“Officers”) in their official capacities, after the Officers crossed county lines and confiscated several dogs that appeared severely dehydrated and malnourished, and euthanized at least one dog.   On Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, the United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Hattiesburg Division held that since there was no evidence to indicate that Defendants’ actions were anything more than negligence not rising to the level of reckless disregard, Plaintiff’s state law claims against Defendants should be dismissed.   The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s § 1983 claim, finding that the record did not support a finding of a pattern of inadequate training rising to the level of deliberate indifference to known or obvious consequence, and that the Officers’ actions could not be found to be a known or obvious result of the County’s training.   The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim with prejudice.  

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Moreno v. Hughes 2016 WL 212932 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 19, 2016) This § 1983 action arises from the shooting of Plaintiffs' dog by Defendant Ronald Hughes, a Michigan Department of Corrections Absconder Recovery Unit Investigator. Defendant shot Plaintiffs' dog after entering her house by mistake to execute a fugitive warrant. This proceeding concerns a Motion in Limine filed by defendant seeking an order that plaintiffs are not entitled to noneconomic losses for the pain and suffering they sustained as a result of Defendant shooting their dog. Defendant contends that damage to personal property (including dogs) is limited to market value only. In rejecting Defendant's argument, this court found that it is "beyond dispute" that compensatory damages under § 1983 may include noneconomic injuries. A Plaintiff's interests in § 1983 actions contain different policy considerations than in traditional negligence claims. In fact, the court stated that, "[p]rohibiting recovery for emotional damages stemming from the loss of, or harm to, an animal caused by a constitutional violation would conflict with the compensatory and deterrence aims of § 1983." Additionally, applying Michigan law on the issue of emotional damages for injury to an animal would create inconsistency in civil rights actions since other states allow such damages. The court found that the determination of both compensatory and punitive damages must be left to the fact finder for each case, including this one. Defendant's Motion in Limine was denied. Case
Moser v. Pennsylvania Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Slip Copy, 2012 WL 4932046 (E.D. Penn.)

After the defendants confiscated mare without a warrant and required that the plaintiff surrender another mare and a few other animals in order to avoid prosecution, the plaintiffs sued the defendants for violating the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Pennsylvania statutory and common law. However, the plaintiffs lost when the district court granted the defendants motion for summary judgment on all counts.

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Mostek v. Genesee County Animal Control Slip Copy, 2012 WL 683430 (E.D., Mich. 2012)

Defendant officer removed a gravely-ill cat that needed veterinary care from Plaintiff's backyard. Plaintiff sued alleging Fourth Amendment claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff disclaimed ownership of the cat, thus her property rights were not violated by the seizure. Officer was shielded by the doctrine of qualified immunity, because animal control officers may enter property and remove animals that appear to be in danger.

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Neita v. City of Chicago 830 F.3d 494 (7th Cir. 2016) 2016 WL 3905604 (7th Cir., 2016) Vaughn Neita brought this suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law, alleging false arrest and illegal searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment arising from an animal cruelty arrest. He was ultimately found not guilty on all counts by an Illinois judge. In 2012, Neita owned a dog-grooming business and rescue shelter. He brought two dogs to the Chicago Department of Animal Care and Control because one dog had attacked another dog in Neita's care and another dog had become ill after whelping a litter of puppies. When Neita arrived with the dogs, an animal control employee contacted police officers who then arrested Neita and searched his business premises, resulting in 13 counts of animal cruelty. With regard to this § 1983 action and Illinois state claims, while Neita amended his complaint twice, it was ultimately dismissed with prejudice for failure to adequately plead any constitutional violation. This appeal then followed. The Seventh Circuit held that to prevail on a false arrest claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must show that there was no probable cause for his or her arrest. Neita arrived at Animal Control to surrender two dogs that showed no signs of abuse or neglect without evidence that he mistreated either dog. Those statements in the amended complaint are sufficient to permit a false arrest claim to proceed. As to the claim of illegal searches, the court found that a plausible claim for false arrest also allowed his claim for an illegal search incident to his arrest to move forward. The dismissal of Neita's claims was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Case
Newsome v. Erwin 137 F.Supp.2d 934 (S.D. Ohio 2000)

Plaintiff brought § 1983 action against county sheriff and others alleging that defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they shot and killed his pet lioness.

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