California

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Titlesort descending Summary
Thomas v. Stenberg


While driving his motorcycle down a private road that had easement access, the plaintiff was injured by a charging cow. Arguing the defendant had a duty to warn of the presence of an unconfined and inherently dangerous animal, the plaintiff brought a negligence and a premise liability suit against the defendant. Upon appeal, the court held that the plaintiff had failed to prove that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant was strictly liable for the cow's actions; the court, therefore, ruled in favor of the defendant.

VIVA! International Voice for Animals, et al v. Adidas Promotional Retail Operations, Inc., et al In this California case, plaintiffs sued defendants for injunctive and declaratory relief, claiming that defendants import the kangaroo leather in violation of section Penal Code section 653o—and thus are committing an unlawful business practice (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.). Section 653o bans the import of products made from certain animals, including kangaroos into California. Defendants import and sell in California markets athletic shoes made from kangaroo leather. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that section 653o is preempted by federal law under the doctrine of conflict preemption. The trial court agreed and granted the motion. The appellate court also agreed, finding that the statute as applied to defendants in this case conflicts with federal law and with substantial federal objectives of persuading Australian federal and state governments to impose kangaroo population management programs, in exchange for allowing the importation of kangaroo products. The accompanying regulations set forth a comprehensive national policy for the protection of endangered species such as the three kangaroo species involved in this case. Application of section 653o would stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the objectives of Congress if applied to the defendants.
Viva! v. Adidas
Viva, an animal protective organization, filed action against Adidas shoe retailer alleging that it was violating a state statute banning the import of products made from Australian kangaroo hide into California. On cross motions for summary judgment, the original court sided with Adidas,

on the ground that state statute was preempted by federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.  The appeals court affirmed, however the California Superior Court reversed, holding that the state statute was not preempted by federal law. 

Wells v. Brown


In this California case, damages were assessed beyond the purchase price of a dog involved in a hit and run case where the defendant negligently ran over and killed a 15 month old pure-bred Waeimaraner. After the defendant ran over the dog, he shot the dog and buried it. The next morning he contacted the veterinarian listed on the collar, as well as the owner of the dog. The court upheld the jury verdict of $1,500 since the purchase price was determined to not reflect the market value at the time of the dog’s death.

William v. Orange County Animal Control


This involves a case where owners challenge validity of euthanasia order for "dangerous" dog. "Boo," a bullmastiff (large breed of dog), knocked down a child who had walked into his (the dog's) yard. The child accused dog of biting him. The Orange County Animal Control Department ordered that Boo be euthanized as a "vicious" and "dangerous" animal. The owners filed a Writ of Mandamus to delay the killing of the dog until their challenge could be heard in court.

Wright v. Fish and Game Commission (unpublished)


The California Court of Appeal upheld the state's Fish and Game Commission’s ferret ban against an equal protection challenge from a ferret owner. The owner argued that the ban discriminated between ferret owners and owners of other companion animals. However, the court found a rational relation between the ban and concerns about wildlife and human health (from attacks and from rabies).

Wysotski v. Air Canada


Airline mishandled shipment of pet cat, the container was damaged and cat escaped. Complaint on negligence and other grounds for $2.5 million in damages.

Yuzon v. Collins


In this California case, a dog bite victim sued a landlord, alleging premises liability in landlord's failure to guard or warn against tenants' dangerous dog.  On appeal from an order of summary judgment in favor of the landlords, the Court of Appeal held that the landlord owed no duty of care, as he had no actual knowledge of dog's dangerous propensities and an expert witness's declaration that the landlord should have known of the dog's vicious propensities was insufficient to warrant reconsideration of summary judgment ruling.  The landlord's knowledge that tenants may have a dog because it is allowed through a provision in the lease is insufficient to impute liability where the landlord has no knowledge of any previous attacks or incidents.

ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF CINCINNATI v. THE GORILLA FOUNDATION In 1991, the plaintiff, Zoological Society of Cincinnati, transferred a western lowland Gorilla named Ndume who had been living at the Zoo to The Gorilla Foundation (TGF) in Northern California. Ndume was sent to TGF in hopes that he and another gorilla there, named Koko, would mate and produce offspring. That never happened. In 2015, the Zoo and TGF entered into a new written agreement which expressly superseded any prior agreements. The agreement provided that upon the death of Koko, Ndume was to be placed at an institution that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). TGF is not an AZA accredited institution. KoKo died and the Zoo now wants to transfer Ndume back to the zoo. TGF has not made arrangements for a transfer to be carried out. The Zoo brought this suit seeking specific enforcement of the 2015 agreement and contends that it is entitled to summary judgment in its favor. TGF argued that the agreement was illegal and unenforceable because the transfer would harm Ndume. TGF identified a number of potential risks, particularly, that Ndume has a Balantidium Coli infection. TGF contended that stress could trigger an outbreak which could be fatal. The court was unpersuaded and stated that TGF signed the 2015 agreement less than 3 years before the present dispute arose and that all of the circumstances that TGF contends makes compliance with the agreement risky existed when the agreement was negotiated. TGF also contended that the agreement is impracticable due to unreasonable (non-monetary) costs. However, the Court again stated that TGF knew these facts and circumstances when it entered into the agreement. The Court granted the Zoo's motion for summary judgment and denied TGF's request for a continuance to permit it to take discovery. The parties were ordered to confer and attempt to reach a consensus on as many aspects of the protocol for transporting Ndume to the Zoo as possible. If within 30 days of the date of the order the parties cannot reach a consensus, they will have to file a joint statement setting out any issues on which they have reached a stalemate.
Zuniga v. San Mateo Dept. of Health Services (Peninsula Humane Soc.)


In this California case, the owner of a dog that had been seized pending criminal dogfighting charges sought a writ of mandate challenging a county hearing officer's decision finding that puppies born to the dog while she was impounded were dangerous animals. The trial court denied the writ. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that there was insufficient evidence that the puppies were “dangerous animals." The evidence received by the hearing officer relates mainly to appellant's actions and his mistreatment of the parent animal, and the only evidence relevant to the puppies' “inherent nature” was the observed aggressive behavior toward each other while caged together and certain possible assumptions about their nature from the condition and use of their mother.

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