Louisiana

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Titlesort descending Summary
Pepper v. Triplet


Neighbor sued dog owner for injuries resulting from dog bite.  Supreme Court held that a plaintiff must show that, first, that the injuries could have been prevented by the dog owner and that the plaintiff did not provoke the dog to attack, second, that the dog presented an unreasonable risk of harm, and third, that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care.  Plaintiff did not accomplish this.  Reversed. (Extensive history of state dog bit law.)

Quave v. Bardwell


Plaintiff-appellee, Debbie Quave, filed this suit against defendant-appellant, Curtis Bardwell, seeking damages for the deliberate and unjustified killing of her german shepherd dog, Kilo Bandito. The court upheld an award of $2,650, finding that the assessment of damages for plaintiff’s dog was proper since they were based on the value paid, stud fees, medical care, loss of income, and replacement costs.

Savage v. Prator


Two Louisiana "game clubs" filed an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against parish commission and parish sheriff's office after being informed by the sheriff that an existing parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting would be enforced. The clubs contended that the ordinance was violative of the police power reserved explicitly to the state (the state anti-cruelty provision is silent with regard to cockfighting).  The First Judicial District Court, Parish of Caddo granted the clubs' request for a preliminary injunction.  The Supreme Court reversed the injunction and remanded the matter, finding that the parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting did not violate general law or infringe upon State's police powers in violation of Constitution.

Savage v. Prator


After being informed by the Caddo Sheriff's Office that a 1987 Parish ordinance prohibiting cockfighting would be enforced, two organizations, who had held cockfighting tournaments since the late 1990s and the early 2000s, filed a petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. After the trial court granted the organizations' request for a preliminary injunction, the Parish commission appealed and the court of appeals affirmed. Upon granting writ of certiorari and relying on the home rule charter, the Supreme Court of Louisiana found that local governments may authorize or prohibit the conduct of cockfighting tournaments within municipal boundaries. The case was therefore reversed and remanded to the district court with the injunction being vacated.


Smegal v. Gettys


Plaintiff Steven Smegal appeals a judgment that found him 50% at fault in a dog bite case. The incident occurred after the dog owned by Smegal's neighbor (Gettys) ran into the street and was hit by a school bus. Smegal approached the injured dog too closely and was bitten on his ankle. The Court of Appeal, First Circuit affirmed the lower court's finding. The court held that Smegal's actions did not constitute provocation where the dog's owners were also approaching the injured dog in an "equally provocative" manner. As to allocation of fault, the court found that while it was Gettys' failure to restrain the dog that was the ultimate cause of the accident, Smegal chose to approach the injured dog despite his training and knowledge as a police officer. Thus, this set of facts supported the trial court's allocation of comparative fault.

Smith v. Kopynec


The plaintiff appeals the lower court's dismissal of her claims against defendant-landowners and their insurers. The plaintiff was injured (for the second time) by the defendant-landowners' son's pitbull while walking past their home. While it was undisputed that the landowners did not own the dog, the issue was whether they had a duty to prevent the attack via "custodial liability." Here, the defendant-landowners asserted that they thought the son had gotten rid of the dog after it was confiscated and quarantined by animal control after it first attacked the plaintiff. Thus, this court found that defendant-landowners did not know of the dog's presence on their property and affirmed the trial court's order of summary judgment.

State v. Mumme


In this unpublished Louisiana case, the defendant was charged with “cruelty to an animal, to wit, a bat, belonging to Julian Mumme, by beating the animal with a bat causing the animal to be maimed and injured.” After the first witness was sworn at trial, the State moved to amend the information to strike the phrase “to wit: a bat." On appeal, defendant alleged that this was improper, a mistrial should have been declared, and the State should be prohibited from trying him again. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit disagreed with defendant, holding that the amendment corrected a defect of form, not a defect of substance (as allowed by La.C.Cr.P. art. 487), and that the trial court correctly allowed the bill to be amended during trial.

Swido v. Lafayette Insurance Co.


In this Louisiana case, a prospective horse buyer filed an action against the prior sellers and their insurer to recover for injuries when she attempted to ride a horse offered for sale by the initial buyer. At the time of the injury, the horse was under the custody of the original sellers who were paid an additional amount to have the horse trained. The Court of Appeal held that sale of horse was perfected when the first buyer paid the sale price, even though the first buyer paid an additional amount for the sellers to finish training the horse. On the negligence issue, the court found the "green-broke" horse did not present an unreasonable risk of harm when the potential buyer attempted to ride it bareback as to assign strict liability to the prior sellers who had custody of the horse. 

Terral v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co.


A motorcyclist hit a dog wandering on the road and sued the defendant under strict liability theory. The court found that the defendant was strictly liable because he owned the dog in fact. Although the dog was originally a stray, the court upheld a finding of ownership because the defendant regularly fed the dog and harbored it on his property.  

Wallen v. City of Mobile Wallen appeals her convictions for six counts of violating Mobile, Alabama's public nuisance ordinances. The nuisance convictions stem from an anonymous complaint about multiple barking dogs at Wallen's property. After receiving the tip in March of 2016, an animal control officer drove to the residence, parked across the street, and, as he sat in his car, heard dogs bark continuously for approximately ten minutes. That same day, a local realtor went to house that was for sale behind Wallen's property and heard an "overwhelming" noise of dogs barking continuously for 30-45 minutes. For almost a year, officers received complaints about noise coming from Wallen's house. In May of 2017, Wallen entered a plea of not guilty for multiple charges of violating the public nuisance ordinance in Mobile Circuit Court. She also filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Mobile City Code was unconstitutionally vague. Her motion was later denied, and a jury trial was held where Wallen was found guilty of six counts of violating Mobile's public-nuisance ordinance. On appeal, Wallen first argues that the public nuisance ordinance is unconstitutionally overbroad because it regulates without reference to time, place, and manner. However, the court found that Wallen did not establish how the overbreadth doctrine applied to her case and how the ordinance was unconstitutional. As to her next vagueness challenge, Wallen contended that the ordinance had no objective standards to determine whether a dog's barking is disturbing or unreasonable. This court disagreed, finding the statute defines what are "disturbing noises" (which specifically states barking), and other courts previously established that the term "habit" in a dog-barking statute is not vague. Finally, the found that Wallen's last general argument, that the code is unconstitutional as applied to her, did not satisfy court rules with respect to issues presented and support with authority on appeal. The judgment of the lower court was affirmed.

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