New Jersey

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Titlesort descending Summary
Arguello v. Behmke


The adoption of a dog was invalidated and the court ordered its return to the original owner. The shelter's placement of the dog with a new family was invalid because the shelter agreed that it would hold the dog for a certain period of time.

DeRobertis by DeRobertis v. Randazzo


The principal issue in this New Jersey case is the liability of a dog owner to an infant plaintiff bitten by the owner's dog. At trial the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, and the Appellate Division, in an unreported opinion, affirmed. A factual issue existed at the trial, however, as to whether the infant plaintiff was lawfully on the property of the owner, but the trial court did not submit that question to the jury. The omission is important because the "dog-bite" statute, N.J.S.A. 4:19-16, imposes absolute liability on an owner whose dog bites someone who is "lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog." If the plaintiff was a trespasser, he was not lawfully on the property, and liability should not be determined under the statute but according to common-law principles.  It was necessary to find that the invitation to infant plaintiff to be on defendant's property extended to the area where the dog was chained.

Detailed Discussion of New Jersey Great Ape Laws The following article discusses Great Ape law in New Jersey. While New Jersey does not expressly forbid possession of great apes, personal possession is effectively banned by state regulations dealing with endangered and “potentially dangerous” species. Further, the state Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act bars the taking, possession, transportation and sale of endangered species. Great Apes are not specifically named, but rather are included by reference to the federal endangered species list. The ban on possession of endangered apes is buttressed by a companion regulation that states “no permit shall be issued for the possession of any species designated as endangered by the U.S. Department of the Interior. . .” Great apes are also covered under the state’s anti-cruelty laws. Unlike many other states, there are no general exemptions for research or other activities.
Diehl v. Cumberland Mut. Fire Ins. Co.


 In this New Jersey case, the plaintiff was bitten by a dog when walking around the back of pickup and $55,000 in damages were awarded.

 

The issue on appeal concerned the issue of which insurance policy, auto or homeowners, should cover this type of incident. The court adopted the nexus test; the auto insurance is liable if the injury arises out of the operation of a vehicle. The Court held :

 

“We are satisfied that automobile liability insurance should cover this injury caused by a dog bite to the face occurring while the dog was in the open rear deck of a pickup truck because it arose out of the use of the vehicle to transport the dog. Moreover, the bite incident was facilitated by the height and open design of the deck. In our view the act was a natural and foreseeable consequence of the use of the vehicle, and there was a substantial nexus between the dog bite and the use of the vehicle at the time the dog bit the plaintiff.”

Eyrich v. Earl


In this New York, the neighbors of a five-year-old child who was mauled to death by a leopard that was at a circus held on school property filed suit against the operators of the circus seeking compensation for emotional damages. On defendants' appeal, this court held that defendants were strictly liable to plaintiffs. The court first began with the proposition that wild animals are presumed to have a dangerous propensity and the keepers of such have been held strictly liable. Using a products liability analogy, the court found that as a matter of public policy, it would be 'unthinkable' to refuse to insulate individuals who put a defective car on the road and 'then tell one injured by a wild beast that he has no claim against those who put that beast on the road.' The judgment was affirmed.

Gerofsky v. Passaic County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals


The President of the New Jersey SPCA brought an action to have several county SPCA certificates of authority revoked.  The county SPCAs brought a counterclaim alleging the revocation was beyond the state SPCA's statutory authority.  The trial court revoked one county's certificate of authority, but the Court of Appeals held the revocation was an abuse of discretion.

Goldman v. Critter Control of New Jersey Plaintiff, Stuart Goldman, was the former chief humane law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Plaintiff alleged that in May of 2015, he learned from a resident of Matawan that Critter Control of New Jersey had trapped a female adult raccoon and removed it from the roof of a house. A few days later, baby raccoons were found in the gutters of that same house. Those baby raccoons allegedly went without sustenance for a week. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Critter Control for violation of New Jersey law. The case was dismissed with prejudice and the court stated that the statute only provided for organizations to seek a civil remedy under the New Jersey statute and that Plaintiff had brought his complaint in his individual capacity and, therefore, lacked standing. Plaintiff had also filed a second case in which the he alleged that Simplicity Farms was mistreating horses. This was ultimately dismissed by the trial court. Plaintiff appealed both cases which were ultimately consolidated on appeal. Plaintiff contended on appeal that he had standing to sue in the name on Monmouth SPCA as a qui tam action and that the court erred by not granting his motion for reconsideration to allow him to amend the complaint with the proper caption. Plaintiff also contended that his complaint against Simplicity Farms should not have been dismissed. Plaintiff argued that the N.J.S.A. 4:22-26 authorized qui tam suits because it provided that “any person in the name of the New Jersey [SPCA] or county SPCA can sue for civil penalties.” Based on the legislative history and the amendments to the PCAA, the Court concluded that the PCAA did not authorize qui tam lawsuits as the Plaintiff contended. The Court found no misapplication of discretion by the trial court denying Plaintiff’s motions to amend his complaints because the amendments would have been futile in light of his lack of standing. The Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
Harabes v. Barkery, Inc.


Plaintiffs claim their pet dog, Gabby, died of medical complications after she was negligently subjected to extreme heat for an extended period of time at The Barkery, a dog grooming business.  The Court observed that there is no New Jersey precedent permitting a pet owner to recover non-economic damages when a pet is negligently injured or killed; therefore, the court looked policy and rationale which underlies similar cases in this and other jurisdictions.  The Court concluded that the difficulty in quantifying the emotional value of a companion pet and the risk that a negligent tortfeasor will be exposed to extraordinary and unrealistic damage claims weighed against allowing damages.  Most significantly, the court found that public policy mitigated against allowing emotional distress and loss of companionship damages, which are unavailable for the loss of a child or spouse, for the loss of a pet dog.

Houseman v. Dare


An engaged, live-in couple purchased a dog together and listed both of their names on the American Kennel Club registration.  While speaking to his girlfriend about ending the relationship, the boyfriend promised her that she could keep the dog, but failed to fulfill that promise; the court required specific enforcement of that promise. In addition, the court found that dogs possess special subjective value similar to "heirlooms, family treasures, and works of art."

Hyland v. Borras


Plaintiff Heather Hyland brought this action for damages after defendants' dog, an American bulldog, trespassed onto plaintiff's property and attacked her ten year old shih tzu, causing serious injuries to the dog.  Defendants appeal the award of "repair costs" ($2,500) in excess of the dog's market value or "replacement cost" ($500).  In upholding the award, the court distinguished companion animals from other personal property, finding that market value fails to take into account the owner's relationship to the animal. 

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