California

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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.

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.

Hauser v. Ventura County Board of Supervisors The plaintiff in this case applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) to keep up to five tigers on her property, but the county planning commission and board of supervisors denied her application. In her application, plaintiff indicates that the project would include three tiger enclosures, a 13,500-square-foot arena with a roof over 14 feet in height at its highest point, with the area surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain link fence encompassing over seven acres. The captive tigers would be used in the entertainment industry: movie sets, television commercials, and still photography. In denying the application, the Board found that the plaintiff failed to prove two elements necessary for a CUP: the project is compatible with the planned uses in the general area, and the project is not detrimental to the public interest, health, safety or welfare. The court noted that plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating her entitlement to the permit. In fact, the court noted that while plaintiff claims "an unblemished safety record," she submitted videos showing tigers "roaming freely in the backyard of her Beverly Hills home" and tigers posing with plaintiff and her sister on the beach. The court observed that, "[h]er well-intentioned desire to own [the tigers] does not trump her neighbors' right to safety and peace of mind." The judgment of the lower court was affirmed.
HAGEN v. LAURSEN


Two Irish setters knocked down a neighbor while playing outside.

 

Previously no one had seen them run into anyone while playing.

 

They were not shown to have been more boisterous than dogs usually are.

 

There was no evidence that these dogs were vicious. The court found that there was no foreseeable risk of harm and therefore no duty upon which to base a claim of negligence.

Frye v. County of Butte


After several administrative, trial court, and appeals hearings, the California court of appeals upheld a county’s decision to seize the plaintiffs’ horses for violation of Cal. Penal Code § 597.1(f).  Notably, the appeals court failed to extend the law of the case, which generally provides that a prior appellate court ruling on the law governs further proceedings in the case, to prior trial court rulings. The appeals court also held that the trial court’s "Statement of Decision" resolved all issues set before it, despite certain remedies remaining unresolved and the court’s oversight of the plaintiffs' constitutionality complaint, and was therefore an appealable judgment. The appeals court also found the trial court lacked jurisdiction to extend the appeals deadline with its document titled "Judgment."

Friedman v. Souther California Permanente Medical Group


Amicus Curae brief arguing for veganism to be viewed as a religion in wrongful termination case.

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