Michigan

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Trager v. Thor


In this Michigan case involving an action for damages after personal injury, the father of the dog’s owner was visiting his son's home when he agreed to supervise the dog while his son and daughter-in-law went shopping.

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eighbor’s child was subsequently bitten by the dog, which had been put by defendant into a bedroom. This court held that the defendant, as a temporary caretaker of the dog, could not be held to the strict liability standard of an owner keeper, but could be liable under theory of negligence. Thus, a genuine issue of material fact remained as to whether the father was negligent in fulfilling his duty of care in supervising the dog, which precluded summary judgment in a negligence action.

Ten Hopen v. Walker


Defendant was convicted of wilfully and maliciously killing a dog.  On appeal, the court found the instructions proper and held that a plaintiff could recover exemplary damages in addition to market value as compensation, not as punitive damages.  The court also found that the killing of a dog is not justified by trespass because there are remedies for destruction of property by animals of another.

Rickrode v. Wistinghausen


In this Michigan case, a mother sued as next friend for injuries suffered by her daughter after the daughter was attacked by defendant's domestic cat. The lower court directed a verdict in favor of the cat's owner and the mother then appealed. The Court of Appeals held that evidence warranted submission to the jury on questions of strict liability and negligence. If an owner has knowledge that her cat has bitten children before and that it was suffering from a disease that makes the cat extra sensitive, then a prima facie case has been made that the cat was dangerous, posing more than the normal risk of harm from cats.

People v. Zimberg


Defendants were charged with having in their possession in the city of Detroit with intent to sell pikeperch (yellow pickerel) that were undersized, contrary to a Michigan statute.  In response to defendants' challenge to the constitutionality of the statute, the court noted that it is universally held in this country that wild game and fish belong to the state and are subject to its power to regulate and control; that an individual may acquire only such limited or qualified property interest therein as the state chooses to permit.  Defendants also contended the statute violated equal protection.  The court disagreed, finding the argument is without foundation in fact, as the statute makes no discrimination.

People v. Tessmer


Defendant was convicted of wilfully and maliciously killing the horse of another.  Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction because there was no proof of malice toward the owner of the horse.  The court held that the general malice of the law of crime was sufficient to support the conviction. 

People v. Strobridge


In this Michigan case, the defendant appealed his conviction of keeping more than three dogs on his premises without a kennel license in violation of Grandville ordinances, § 21, No. 159-A.  On appeal, defendant asserted that the trial court improperly denied his “nonconforming use” defense; that is, he claimed the ordinance at issue was a zoning ordinance rather than a regulatory ordinance.

 

Relying on a case that held that prior nonconforming use (where a person has been using property in a nonconforming way prior to the adoption of the zoning ordinance), the court found that indeed defendant was entitled to present such a defense, as he owned the dogs on the property prior to adoption of the ordinance.  Defendant next argued that the trial court erred in ruling that the ordinance was a constitutional exercise of the city's police power.  While the court observed that criminal ordinances are to be more strictly construed than ordinances involving a civil penalty, it still found that the ordinance at issue was a valid exercise of police power, especially considering that a previous case had upheld a similar ordinance that limited ownership to only two dogs.

People v. Proehl (unpublished)


Defendant was convicted of failing to provide adequate care to 16 horses. On appeal, Defendant first argued that, to him, nothing appeared to be wrong with his horses and, consequently, no liability can attach. The court disagreed, explaining: "Defendant's personal belief that his horses were in good health . . . was therefore based on fallacy, and has no effect on his liability under the statute." Defendant also maintained that he is an animal hoarder, which is a "psychological condition" that mitigates his intent. Rejecting this argument, the court noted that Defendant’s "hoarding" contention is based upon a non-adopted bill which, in any event, fails to indicate whether animal hoarding may serve as a proper defense.

People v. Preston


Defendant was convicted of wilfully and maliciously killing three cows.  The issue considered on review was: "Are the circumstances and testimony here, aliunde the confession of the respondent, sufficient to create such a probability that the death of the cattle in question was intentionally caused by human intervention and to justify the admission in evidence of the alleged confession of the respondent?"  The court held that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction.

People v. Parker (Unpublished)



Defendants-appellees, who were bound over on


the charge of knowingly attending an animal fight and of knowingly organizing, promoting, or collecting money for the fighting of an animal, filed a motion to suppress evidence and motions to quash the information. The trial court granted the motions and dismissed the case. The prosecution appealed and the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact, and that evidence that had been obtained in violation of defendant Parker's Fourth Amendment rights was admissible against all defendants except Parker. Finally, as to the defendants' challenge that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, the court declared that it had already determined that the language was neither vague nor overbroad. Reversed and remanded for trial. 

People v. Olary (On Appeal)


Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of cruelty to animals.  Specifically, defendant argued that the Court of Appeals erroneously upheld the conviction because of his inattention to the condition of the cows and failure to provide medical treatment, when such action or failure to act was not punishable under the anti-cruelty statute.  The Supreme Court held that the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction of cruelty to animals because as a farmer, defendant could have realized that his conduct was cruel. 

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