California

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Titlesort ascending Summary
Park Management Corp v. In Defense of Animals An animal rights activist named Joseph Cuviello appealed the entry of a permanent injunction in a trespass action that prohibited him from demonstrating outside of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom ("The Park") in California. The superior court rejected Cuviello’s federal and state constitutional claims that he had a right to picket there peacefully and his common law defense based on a claimed prescriptive easement. The Park was originally municipally owned and privately operated until 2007 when the Park's management acquired the park from the City of Vallejo. After that acquisition, the Park began to limit free speech until it ultimately banned all expressive activity on the property. Cuviello was one of the many people that protested at the park advocating for animals and he had done so many times in the past. The Park filed a single cause of action for private trespass against several animal advocacy groups. Cuviello argued that he had a First Amendment right to protest there because the park had been dedicated to public use, the park was a public forum under state constitutional law, and given the amount of times he had protested at the park in the past, he had acquired a common law prescriptive easement right to protest there. The trial court denied Cuviello’s cross-motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment for the Park. It ruled that the First Amendment does not apply to private property and that the property was not a public forum under California’s constitution. It also rejected the prescriptive easement claims. Although the Park was zoned as a public and quasi-public property, the Appeals Court grappled with whether to classify the Park as a private or public forum. The Court applied a balancing test which balanced society’s interest in free expression against the Park’s interests as a private property owner. The Court concluded that the unticketed, exterior portions of the Park was a public forum. Ultimately the Court held that the trial court erred in granting the Park’s summary judgment and in denying Cuviello’s cross-motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court reversed the decision of the trial court and held that on the undisputed facts here, the Park may not ban expressive activity in the non-ticketed, exterior areas of Six Flags.
Overview of California Great Ape Laws This is a short overview of California Great Ape law.
Ortega Administrative Hearing This is a trial brief for an administrative hearing to determine whether dog, "Rocky," was "vicious" or "dangerous." Rocky was normally a very friendly dog.
Nava v. McMillan


In a personal injury action brought by a pedestrian who was hit by an automobile when she stepped into a street, the trial court dismissed the complaint against occupiers of land who maintained fenced dogs, which plaintiff alleged frightened her, causing her to step into the street. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that the complaint failed to set forth facts giving rise to tortious liability on the part of the owners of fenced dogs, either on the theory of simple negligence or strict liability.

Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Assoc.


Neighborhood Association had covenants against pets. Woman had two cats (against rules) and was charge large fines for having them. She challenged the validity of the rule, as well as the method of enforcement.

MICHAEL SEAGRAVE, plaintiff v. MICHAEL ATZET, and DOES 1-20 inclusive, defendant This California complaint arose from the shooting of plaintiff's golden retriever dog. Plaintiff's dog was secure in the backyard which was bordered by a fence. According to the complaint, defendant intentionally used a high-powered pellet rifle and shot the dog by positioning the rifle over or through the fence. This injury resulted in plaintiff's dog's death. The complaint raised three causes of action: (1) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (2) conversion; and (3) violation of California Civil Code of Procedure Section 3340 (related to damages to animals).
McMahon v. Craig


In this California case, the plaintiff appealed a demurrer granted by the trial court on her claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress and portions of her complaint struck that sought damages for emotional distress and loss of companionship. The case stems from defendant-veterinarian's care of plaintiff's Maltese dog after surgery. Defendant also lied to plaintiff and falsified records concerning the treatment of the dog. On appeal of the trial court demurrer, this court held that an owner cannot recover emotional distress damages for alleged veterinary malpractice. The court found that it would be incongruous to impose a duty on a veterinarian to avoid causing emotional distress to the owner of the animal being treated, while not imposing such a duty on a doctor to the parents of a child receiving treatment.

Martinez v. Robledo


These two consolidated California appeals address the measure of damages for the wrongful injury to a companion animal. Both respondents filed motions in limine concerning the issue of damages in the cases and, in both case, the trial court limited the measure of damages to the market value of the dogs. On appeal, the appellants argued that the measure of damages should go beyond market value to cover the reasonable costs of the pets' treatment. The appellate court found the recent case of Kimes v. Grosser (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 1556 (decided after these appeals were filed) persuasive (where the court held that a plaintiff can recover reasonable and necessary costs where a pet is wrongfully injured). The court reasoned that otherwise, the injured animal's owner would bear the burden of all the costs of treatment, regardless of the wrongdoer's conduct. Moreover, this ruling reflects a basic principle of tort law - to make a plaintiff whole again - and accords with the different way animals, as property, are treated in the criminal arena. Thus, the court agreed with Kimes that allowing a pet owner to recover reasonable and necessary costs related to the treatment of an animal wrongfully injured is an appropriate measure of damages.

Lundy v. California Realty


The Court of Appeals held that an owner of a dog may be held liable for injuries inflicted by it on another person without any showing the dog had any especially dangerous propensities or that the owner knew of any such dangerous propensities. However, to impose liability on someone other than the owner, even a keeper, previous knowledge of the dog's vicious nature must appear. Aside from the rental agreement, the property owners knew nothing whatever about the dog. Thus, the facts before the trial court fell far short of creating a triable issue of fact as to defendant property owners' knowledge of any dangerous propensities on the part of the tenant's dog. "Neither do we believe judicial notice may be taken that all German shepherds are dangerous. Nor can defendants' knowledge of any dangerous propensity of the dog be inferred simply because they knew his name was Thunder."

Leider v. Lewis Plaintiffs, taxpayers Aaron Leider and the late Robert Culp, filed suit against the Los Angeles Zoo and Director Lewis to enjoin the continued operation of the elephant exhibit and to prevent construction of a new, expanded exhibit. Plaintiffs contend that the Zoo's conduct violates California animal cruelty laws and constitutes illegal expenditure of public funds and property. The case went to trial and the trial court issued limited injunctions relating to forms of discipline for the elephants, exercise time, and rototilling of the soil in the exhibit. On appeal by both sides, this court first took up whether a taxpayer action could be brought for Penal Code violations or to enforce injunctions. The Court held that the earlier Court of Appeals' decision was the law of the case as to the argument that the plaintiff-taxpayer was precluded from obtaining injunctive relief for conduct that violated the Penal Code. The Court found the issue was previously decided and "is not defeated by raising a new argument that is essentially a twist on an earlier unsuccessful argument." Further, refusing to apply this Civil Code section barring injunctions for Penal Code violations will not create a substantial injustice. The Court also found the order to rototill the soil was proper because it accords with the "spirit and letter" of Penal Code section 597t (a law concerning exercise time for confined animals). As to whether the exhibit constituted animal cruelty under state law, the Court found no abuse of discretion when the trial court declined to make such a finding. Finally, the Court upheld the lower court's ruling that declined further injunctive relief under section 526a (a law that concerns actions against state officers for injuries to public property) because the injury prong could not be satisfied. As stated by the Court, "We agree with the trial court that there is no standard by which to measure this type of harm in order to justify closing a multi-million dollar public exhibit."

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