New York

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Titlesort ascending Summary
Mitchell v. Snider This is a case of an unmarried, co-habitating couple that jointly bought a dog and now dispute who should have the dog after the relationship has terminated. Mitchell brought this replevin action against his girlfriend, Snider, to recover possession of Django, their black lab. This court recognized the traditional way to treat such a case is to consider which party has superior possessory right to the dog. However, modern courts have started to recognize a special category of property in pets and have used a 'best for all concerned' analysis to decide who gets the animal. In this case, the court grants judgment for Snider in part because she had been solely responsible for the dog's care for the previous 20 months. No money was awarded to Mitchell because the expenses he paid were an expression of the parties' mutual love and desire to care for the dog.
Mercado v. Ovalle


In this New York case, plaintiff appealed the lower court's order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment in a dog bite case. Defendants, a grocery store and its owner, asserted that they did not own the two pit bulls that attacked plaintiff. The only evidence plaintiff presented showing defendants' ownership and control over the dogs were hearsay statements from the mechanic who operated the lot that the dogs guarded. The court found this evidence that defendants occasionally walked and fed the dogs insufficient to show that they "harbored" the dogs. Affirmed.

Matter of Ricco v Corbisiero


Petitioner harness race-horse driver was suspended by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, Harness Racing Division for 15 days for failing to drive his horse to the finish. The driver argued that whipping the horse had not improved his performance. Considering that the horse had equaled his best time, and had lost by only two feet, and that it would have been a violation of the New York anti-cruelty law (Agriculture and Markets Law ( § 353) to overdrive the horse, the court overturned the suspension.

Martin v. Columbia Greene Humane Society, Inc.


A dog breeder was required to abstain from selling dogs for three years or else criminal charges would be reinstated for failing to file health certificates for the dogs they sold or report deaths due to contagious diseases.  The breeder brought claims for malicious prosecution, tortious interference with a business relation, and section 1983 violations.  The trial court denied defendants motion to dismiss and the Court of Appeals affirmed in part holding the complaint failed to state a claim for malicious prosecution and the humane society volunteer was entitled to statutory immunity as an unpaid officer of a not-for-profit corporation.  

Marek v. Burmester


In this New York case, a bicyclist was injured after allegedly being chased and attacked by defendant's two dogs. The plaintiff-bicyclist sued to recover damages for his injuries. The Supreme Court , Putnam County, granted a defense motion for summary judgment, and the bicyclist appealed. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that a genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether defendants had constructive notice of the dogs' proclivity to chase bicyclists on the roadway and as to whether those actions put others at risk of harm.

Malpezzi v. Ryan


In this New York case, the plaintiff brought an action to recover for a dog bite sustained when she was walking on a local bike path. The court noted that it has consistently held, “a plaintiff may not recover for injuries sustained in an attack by a dog unless he or she establishes that the dog had vicious propensities and that its owner knew or should have known of such propensities”  Here, defendant and his girlfriend testified, without contradiction, that they did not experience any problems with the dog prior to the incident with Malpezzi. Specifically, each testified that Oreo did not display any act of aggression prior to biting Malpezzi. In opposition, plaintiff primarily relies upon the purportedly vicious nature of the attack, the fact that Oreo allegedly was restrained while on defendant's property and Oreo's specific breed. However, the court observed that where, as here, there is no other evidence even suggesting that defendant knew or should have known of Oreo's allegedly vicious propensities, consideration of the dog's breed is irrelevant. As such, Supreme Court erred in denying defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint.

Leslie Ann Mandel Will (pet trust)
Lawrence v. North Country Animal Control Center, Inc Plaintiffs adopted a basset hound from animal control despite the fact that the dog had been turned over by a prior owner to be euthanized. The basset hound, who attacked the plaintiffs on three different occasions without injury, attacked plaintiffs' other dog. When one plaintiff tried to separate the dogs, the basset hound attacked him. Defendant removed the basset hound from the home that same day and refused to return the dog to the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking to recover damages for injuries, asserting causes of action for, among other things, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, products liability and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On appeal from the New York Supreme Court decision, the appellate court found that under the circumstances, issues of fact exist as to whether plaintiffs reasonably relied on defendants' misrepresentation and whether plaintiffs could have discovered the dog’s dangerous nature with due diligence. The appellate court also found that the contract clause at issue did not preclude plaintiffs from recovering for negligence because it did not “advise the signor that the waiver extended to claims that might arise from the defendant's own negligence.” The appellate court did, however, find that plaintiffs did not satisfy the “rigorous ... and difficult to satisfy requirements for a viable cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The court also found that sanctions were not warranted.
Larry BARD et al., Appellants, v. Reinhardt JAHNKE, Individually And Doing Business as Hemlock Valley Farms, Respondent, et al., Defendant.


The accident underlying this litigation occurred on a dairy farm owned and operated by defendant. Plaintiff Larry Bard, a self-employed carpenter, arrived at the farm to meet defendant John Timer, another self-employed carpenter to repair of the dairy barn. While working, Bard was seriously injured by a bull. Bard, with his wife suing derivatively, commenced an action against both Jahnke and Timer to recover damages for his personal injuries, alleging causes of action sounding in strict liability and negligence. In affirming the Appellate Division's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment, this court found that Jahnke was not liable for Bard's injuries unless he knew or should have known of the bull's vicious or violent propensities. The Court noted that the record contained no such evidence.

Kinara v. Jamaica Bay Riding Academy, Inc.


Plaintiff was kicked by a horse ridden by her friend while trail riding.  Plaintiff sued the Defendant who owned the horse and trail Plaintiff was riding on.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant and the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision holding Plaintiff assumed the risk.

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