Federal

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Titlesort ascending Summary
Becker v. Elfreich Appellant, Officer Zachary Elfreich, went to the home of Appellee Jamie Becker in order to execute an arrest warrant. When Becker did not surrender right away, Officer Elfreich allowed his police dog to find and attack Becker. Upon seeing Becker, Officer Elfreich pulled him down three steps of the home staircase, and placed his knee on Becker’s back while allowing the dog to continue to bite him. Becker sued the city of Evansville and Officer Elfreich under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the officer used excessive force in arresting him in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The district court denied Officer Elfreich's motion for summary judgment and the officer appealed. The Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, held that: first, under the totality of the circumstances, the force used by the officer post-surrender of Becker was not reasonable. Second, a police dog's use of the “bite and hold” technique is not per se deadly force. Third, Becker, was a nonresisting (or at most passively resisting) suspect when Officer Elfreich saw him near the bottom of the staircase and the officer should not have used significant force on him. Based on these factors, the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity and a reasonable jury could find such force was excessive. The lower court decision to deny Officer Elfreich's motion for summary judgment was affirmed.
Baughman v. City of Elkhart, TX Plaintiff Tammy Baughman filed a complaint on May 31, 2017 seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of her Fourteenth amendment rights; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleging that she was discriminated against; the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), alleging a failure to make reasonable accommodations; and 42 U.S.C. § 3613. Plaintiff asserts that she is disabled due to a failed back surgery. She also has fibromyalgia, depression, and other health issues. Plaintiff has a seven pound ring tail lemur that she claims is an emotional support animal that improves her quality of life. Plaintiff's lemur bit a mail carrier on December 5, 2012 which left lacerations on the carrier's hand and wrist. Plaintiff then moved to Elkhart, Texas in December 2014 where her lemur bit another person on June 25, 2015. In both instances the lemur was quarantined for 30 days and then returned to Plaintiff. The City of Elkhart enacted an ordinance on October 5, 2015 that bans all non-human primates from the city. Plaintiff claims she requested an accommodation form the City to keep her lemur as an emotional support animal, but her request was denied. The defendants, which include the mayor and city council members, claim the plaintiff never requested an accommodation. Plaintiff further alleges that the defendants "showed deliberate indifference in refusing to give [her] a hearing and defend her lemur,' which violates the FHAA and ADA. On February 15, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking a dismissal of all of Plaintiff's claims. Defendants claim that Plaintiff's lemur was involved in two documented attacks in Houston County, Texas and a third in Elkhart. Defendants assert that Plaintiff runs a retail resale shop out of her home and that in the third attack on June 25, 2015, the lemur jumped on a customer in plaintiff's store. Defendants assert that the ordinance was enacted as a legitimate exercise of the City's legislative power and police power. The District court concluded that the defendants are entitled to absolute judicial immunity for their conduct because the act of voting in favor of an ordinance is an undeniable legislative action. As for Plaintiff's 1983 claim, the District Court concluded that she had not shown a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether her due process rights were violated nor does she have a basis for a procedural due process claim. The ordinance is rationally related to the City's legitimate interest in the safety and welfare of its citizens. The ordinance does not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As for Plaintiff's ADA claim, the District Court concluded that the Plaintiff had not shown that the reasonable accommodation that she requested - an exemption from the animal control ordinance - did not place an undue burden on the City of Elkhart. No facts were provided by the Plaintiff that would show that her interest in keeping her lemur outweighs the interest of the City in protecting its citizens. As for Plaintiff's ADA claim, in order to succeed on an ADA claim, there must be some evidence that set the animal apart from an ordinary pet. The Plaintiff failed to show any evidence that her lemur is specifically trained to perform tasks that help her in her daily life. The District Court held that the Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and the Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
Bassani v. Sutton


Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit in 2008 claiming money damages under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1988,and  alleging violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In 2004, plaintiffs two dogs were seized by Yakima County Animal Control after responding to a citizen's report that he had been menaced by dogs as he ran past plaintiff's house. Before the court here are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint. In granting the motions, the court held that the doctrine of res judicata did warrant a grant of summary judgment as defendants' failure to release plaintiff's dog. Further, the animal control officer was entitled to qualified immunity because he reasonably relied on the deputy prosecuting attorney's advice. Finally, there was no evidence of a pattern of behavior on the part of Yakima County sufficient to be a "moving force" behind a constitutional violation.

Barber v. Pennsylvania Dept. Agriculture


The plaintiffs in this Pennsylvania case are owners and operators of a non-profit animal rescue and kennel that houses housing about 500 dogs doing business in and throughout Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The current dispute stems from a series of inspections of the kennels that occurred throughout the 2007 calendar year. Plaintiffs allege that defendants conspired in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and that the PSPCA and the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement (the inspection branch of the Dept. of Agriculture) failed to take reasonable steps to protect them from the conspiratorial activity in violation of 42 U.S .C. § 1986. Plaintiffs also state that the PSPCA and the Bureau violated various of their constitutional rights in contravention of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Plaintiffs also seek to hold the Defendants liable for malicious prosecution under 42 U.S .C. § 1983. Finally, other counts allege that Defendant Delenick sexually harassed Plaintiff Rachel Lappe-Biler in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; that plaintiff Pauline Gladys Bryner-Lappe was assaulted and battered in contravention of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth Amendment; and that the defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss all claims.

Balelo v. Baldridge


Defendants, secretary and government agencies, appealed the decision fo the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, in favor of plaintiff captains invalidating an agency regulation pertaining to the taking and related acts incidental to commercial fishing.

Baldwin v. Fish and Game Commission of Montana


Appellants brought this action for declaratory and other relief claiming that the Montana statutory elk-hunting license scheme, which imposes substantially higher (at least 7 1/2 times) license fees on nonresidents of the State than on residents, and which requires nonresidents (but not residents) to purchase a "combination" license in order to be able to obtain a single elk, denies nonresidents their constitutional rights guaranteed by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV, § 2, and by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The court held that the Privileges and Immunity Clause is not implicated, as access to recreational hunting is not fundamental and Montana has provided equal access for both residents and non-residents.  Further, the statutory scheme does not violate the Equal Protection Clause because the state has demonstrated a rational relationship between the increased fee to non-residents (i.e., protection of a finite resource (elk) where there has been a substantial increase in non-resident hunters).

Baker v. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. Plaintiffs brought a securities fraud class action against the collective Defendants, including Seaworld Entertainment, Inc. This action involved statements and omissions made by the Defendants following a 2013 documentary titled Blackfish. The issues centered on the attendance impact that the documentary had on Seaworld. Company-wide attendance declined in 2013 and 2014, however, several officials of the Company made statements that there was no attendance impact resulting from the documentary. Both Plaintiffs and Defendants moved to exclude the testimony of several experts. The Court ultimately affirmed its tentative rulings, denied Defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of two of Plaintiff’s experts, granted Defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. James Gibson, granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Craig Lewis, granted Plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Randolph Bucklin, and denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter of Communities for a Great Oregon
(edited from Syllabus of the Court)

As relevant here, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA or Act) makes it unlawful for any person to “take” endangered or threatened species, § 9(a)(1)(B), and defines “take” to mean to “harass, harm, pursue,” “ wound,” or “kill,” § 3(19). In 50 CFR § 17.3, petitioner Secretary of the Interior further defines “harm” to include “significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife.” Respondents, persons and entities dependent on the forest products industries and others, challenged this regulation on its face, claiming that Congress did not intend the word “take” to include habitat modification.

Held:

The Secretary reasonably construed Congress' intent when he defined “harm” to include habitat modification.
Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Harris

Prior to California's Force Fed Birds law—which bans the sale of products that are the result of force feeding birds to enlarge their livers beyond normal size—coming into effect, two non-California entities produced foie gras that was sold at a California restaurant. When the law came into effect, all three entities sought to enjoin the state of California from enforcing the law; they argued the law was unconstitutionally vague and violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The district court, however, denied their motion for preliminary injunction. On appeal, the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny the preliminary injunction.
Associated Dog Clubs of New YorkState, Inc. v. Vilsack With the increase of sales over the Internet, the Department of Agriculture, through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”), issued a new rule that redefined “retail pet store” to include online pet stores. Several breeders argued that the agency exceeded its statutory authority in issuing the new rule. The Secretary for the Department of Agriculture moved for summary judgment. Since APHIS acted within its authority in promulgating the rule and otherwise complied with the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, the Court granted summary judgment for the agency.

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