California

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Kyles v. Great Oaks Interests (unpublished)


A California appellate court held that the plaintiffs’ nuisance claim, which was based on the defendants’ alleged failure to cease activity that resulted in the attraction of feral and domestic cats to the plaintiffs’ backyard, survived summary judgment.  The plaintiffs were members of a family residing in a home located next to an apartment complex.  Upon moving into the home, the family noticed that many domestic and feral cats were defecating and urinating in the plaintiffs’ yard.  The plaintiffs claimed that the cats were attracted due to the failure of the neighboring apartment complex to ensure that its tenants placed lids on the trash receptacles.  The appellate court partially reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that the defendants could, in fact, be liable under a nuisance theory for damages arising from actions that caused “the presence of [a] large number of cats on Plaintiffs’ property.”

King v. Karpe


Plaintiff sued for damages after a cow was sent to slaughter after a veterinarian had determined that she was incapable of breeding. The court recognized “peculiar value” of the cow where there was evidence that she was slaughtered before she had completed a course of treatment meant to restore her to brood status, that she could have produced for another five or six years, that the three bull calves she had produced were outstanding, that defendant took a half interest in them as the breeding fee and exhibited them at shows, that the cow's blood line produced calves particularly valuable for inbreeding, that plaintiff needed this type of stock to build up her herd, and that defendant had knowledge of these facts. The value of the bull to which the cow had been bred was also material to the cow’s actual value.

Kimes v. Grosser


After neighbors shot a cat, the owners sued to recover costs of its medical care and punitive damages. The owner of an injured pet may recover the lesser of the diminution of the market value of the animal, or the reasonable cost of repair.  The Court of Appeal held that the owner could recover damages for costs incurred in treating the cat even if the costs exceeded the market value of the cat. The owner could also recover punitive damages upon a showing that the shooting was willful.

Katsaris v. Cook


Plaintiff's neighbor, a livestock rancher, shot plaintiff's sheepdogs after they escaped and trespassed on his property.  As a matter of first impression, the court construed the California Food and Agricultural Code provision that allows one to kill a dog that enters an enclosed or unenclosed livestock confinement area with threat of civil or criminal penalty.  The court affirmed defendant's motion with regard to the code provision, finding it gave them a privilege to kill the trespassing dogs.  Further, the court found defendants owed no duty to plaintiff thereby denying the claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress as a result of negligence in supervising the ranchhand who killed the dogs.  With regard to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, plaintiffs cite the manner in which the dogs were killed and then dumped in a ditch and the fact defendant denied knowing the fate of the dogs.  Relying on the "extreme and outrageous conduct" test, the court held that the defendant's conduct did not fall within the statutory privilege and remanded the issue to the trial court for consideration. 

Joy Road Area Forest and Watershed Association v. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection


The California Department of Forestry approved a developer's Timber Harvest Plan of cutting trees down to build a housing development. The court found that The California Department of Forestry abused its discretion by approving the Timber Harvest Plan because it had not given the public sufficient information about the plan, including the impact on the Northern Spotted Owl before approving it, and because the Timber Harvest Plan did not adequately address the issue of how the plan would affect water quality in the area.

Johnson v. McMahan


After a repairman was injured by a dog that grabbed his leg through his jeans and made him fall from a ladder, the victim sued the owners under the dog bite statute, Civ. Code, § 3342. The court held that the statute applied, even though the plaintiff was not wounded by the bite. The word “bite” did not require a puncture or tearing away of the skin.

James S. Cable, Plaintiff v. Burrows, Defendant


This California judgment awarded no money to plaintiff on his claims.

Jakubaitis v. Fischer This case, as an issue of first impression, considers whether Civil Code section 3051 or 30801 governs a dispute involving a veterinary lien for services rendered to a horse. In 1994, Frank and Tara Jakubaitis took their blood-bay horse to Chino Valley Equine Hospital for emergency medical care. Theodore Fischer is the veterinarian that treated the horse, who was hospitalized from February of 1994 to early March of 1994. A letter was sent to the Jukabaitises stating that they had an outstanding balance due of $9,751 and that the horse would not be released until the balance was paid. The letter also informed them that if no payment was made within 10 days, the horse would be sold. The Jukabaitises did not pay for the veterinary services within 10 days, however, the veterinary hospital’s attempts to sell the horse were unsuccessful and the horse remained in the possession of Fischer. The Jakubaitises then sued the hospital, seeking injunctive relief and alleging conversion, claim, and delivery and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The trial court had ordered Fisher to return the horse to the Jakubaitises upon them posting a $500 bond. Fischer then brought this appeal. The case came down to the interpretation of various sections of California law. The trial court impliedly found section 3080 of the California Code to be controlling and sections 3051 and 3052 to be inapt. Section 3051 recognizes veterinary proprietors’ and veterinary surgeons’ lien rights for compensation in caring for, boarding, feeding, and medically treating animals. Section 3052 permits the lienholder, after giving notice to the debtor, to sell the animal at public auction. Section 3080 and 3080.01 govern liens applying to livestock servicers. Essentially, a veterinarian’s services could fall under either of the sections because the term “livestock service” in section 3080 included the term “veterinary services.” Eventually the legislature revised the definition of livestock services in section 3080 and deleted the reference to veterinary services. The Court concluded that the legislature’s intent was clear. Section 3051 continues to govern veterinarian proprietors’ and veterinary surgeons’ lien rights. Section 3080 governs all other livestock service providers. The Court ultimately reversed the trial court’s decision, ordered the horse to be returned to Fischer, the veterinarian, and discharged the bond that was to be paid by the Jakubaitises.
Ivory Education Institute v. Department of Fish and Wildlife The Legislature passed Assembly Bill 96 which took effect July 1, 2016 as Fish & Game Code section 2022. The bill imposed new restrictions on the sale and importation of ivory and rhinoceros horn. The Ivory Education (the Institute) sued the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (the Department) in order to block implementation of the law. The institute alleged that the statute was unconstitutional on multiple grounds including vagueness, federal preemption, the takings clause, and the commerce clause. The trial court entered judgment for the Department and the intervenor defendants (the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Wildlife Conservation Society). The Institute appealed and abandoned all other issues raised and limited its challenge to the void-for-vagueness doctrine. "The Institute contend[ed] that section 2022 [was] unconstitutionally vague for two reasons: 1) while it allows for the sale or import of ivory insofar as it is allowed by federal law, differences in what federal law allows make it nearly impossible to tell what would qualify for the exemption provided by section 2022(c)(c); and 2) there are no guidelines by which to determine the permissible volume of ivory in either musical instruments or antiques." The Court of Appeals stated that a statute is not vague if its meaning can be determined by looking at other sources of information. Those who wish to comply with section 2022 have a duty to locate and examine statutes or whatever else necessary to determine the scope of the exemption provision. "Section 2022 has a single purpose—to prevent the sale or importation of ivory and rhinoceros horn. Both of those terms are defined. The Institute has 'not demonstrated that attempts to give substance and meaning' to the three disputed exceptions 'would be fruitless.'" As for the Institute's second contention, the Court of Appeals stated that because musical instruments and antiques are tangible objects that occupy a verifiable amount of three-dimensional space, the percentage of any such object that has ivory in it can be readily determined. The Court of Appeals held that the statute was not vague. The Court affirmed the holding of the trial court.
Humane Society of United States v. State Board of Equalization


Humane society and four state taxpayers brought action attacking government waste, requesting injunctive and declaratory relief that would bar implementation of tax exemptions for farm equipment and machinery as they applied to “battery cage” chicken coops that allegedly violated animal cruelty laws. State Board of Equalization demurred. Superior Court sustained without leave to amend the complaint and dismissed the case, which the Court of Appeal affirmed, stating that the plaintiffs did not allege a valid cause of action attacking government waste.

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