California

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Titlesort descending Summary
Kyles v. Great Oaks Interests (unpublished)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.”

Leider v. Lewis The Plaintiffs, Residents of Los Angeles, brought a taxpayer action against the Defendants, the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Zoo, alleging elephant abuse in violation of various Penal Code provisions. The Superior Court, Los Angeles County, granted the Defendants summary judgment. The Residents appealed. At trial, the Residents were awarded injunctive and declaratory relief. The Court of Appeals reversed. On remand, the trial court rejected many of the Resident’s claims, but issued limited injunctions prohibiting use of particular forms of discipline, requiring the elephants to have specific amounts of exercise time, and requiring the rototilling of soil in exhibit. Both parties appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of California granted review and reversed the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court held that: (1) the prior Court of Appeals decision was not law of the case as to the argument that the Residents was precluded from obtaining injunctive relief for conduct that violated Penal Code, and (2) the Residents' challenge to the city's treatment of elephants improperly sought injunctive relief for Penal Code violations.
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."
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."

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.

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.

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).
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.

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.

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.

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