New York

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Carter v. Metro North Associates


In this New York case, a tenant sued his landlords for injuries after he was bitten on face by pit bull owned by another tenant. The lower court denied the landlords' motion for summary judgment and granted partial summary judgment for tenant on issue of liability. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division held that the trial court erroneously took judicial notice of vicious nature of breed of pit bulls as a whole. In fact, the court found that the IAS court "erred in circumventing the requirement for evidence concerning the particular animal by purporting to take judicial notice of the vicious nature of the breed as a whole." Thus, the landlords were not strictly liable for the tenant's injuries where there was no evidence indicating that the dog had ever attacked any other person or previously displayed any vicious behavior.

Brousseau v. Rosenthal


This small claims action presents the question of how to make plaintiff whole in dollars for the defendant bailee's (a boarding kennel) negligence in causing the death of plaintiff's dog.  While the dog was a gift and a mixed breed and thus had no ascertainable market value, the court contravened common law principles and assessed the dog's actual value to the owner in order to make the owner whole.  While resisting the temptation to romanticize the virtues of a "human's best friend," the court stated it would be wrong not to acknowledge the companionship and protection that Ms. Brousseau lost with the death of her canine companion of eight years.

Brooks ex rel. Brooks v. Parshall


In this New York case, a then seven-year-old boy was attending a gathering at the home of the owners of a German Shepard dog. According to the plaintiff, the dog growled at him when he arrived and allegedly growled at another man at the party sometime later.

  Defendant denied hearing the growl and t

estimony showed that the boy continued to play with the dog throughout the party and into the next morning.

 

When the boy was leaving in the morning, he attempted to “hug” the dog from behind when the dog turned and bit the boy in the face.

 

In upholding defendant's motion for summary judgment, the court found that even if the dog had initially growled at the boy, that was not enough to establish that the dog had vicious propensities or that the owners had knowledge of the dog's vicious propensities.

 

Broadway, &c., Stage Company v. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals


 Part I is the initial civil case which was brought by the commercial powers of New York to stop Bergh from enforcing the criminal anti-cruelty law. The judge suggests the scope of the law and what Bergh must do to utilize the law. Part II is a second case brought several months latter when the corporate legal guns again try to get Bergh. This time for violating the judges prior opinion. Part III is the claim of one of the stage operators who Bergh personally asserted for overworking a horse. The claim against Bergh is for false arrest. The Judge holds against  the stage driver, freeing Bergh. Discussed in Favre, History of Cruelty

Blake v. County of Wyoming

The City of Wyoming filed an appeal after the court dismissed the City’s motion for summary judgment. The initial law suit was filed by Cassandra Blake after she sustained injuries from a dog bite at the Wyoming County Animal Shelter. Blake was working at the shelter as a volunteer dog walker when the incident occurred. Blake filed suit against the City of Wyoming on the basis of strict liability. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision to deny the City’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that the City did not have actual or constructive knowledge that the dog had vicious propensities. The Court of Appeals rejected Blake’s argument that the City did have knowledge because the shelter was aware that the dog had previously knocked over a four year old child. The Court of Appeals found that this behavior was not notice to the shelter that the dog had any propensity to bite. As a result, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision and granted the City’s motion for summary judgment.

Bermudez v Hanan


This unpublished small claims court opinion concerns a dog bite. Claimant sought to recover monetary damages for medical bills and related expenses she incurred as a result of personal injuries suffered when Defendant's dog named "Chino" bit her on the face. At issue is whether Chino had vicious propensities and whether Defendant was aware of or had knowledge of those vicious propensities. The court found that Plaintiff did not raise an issue of fact as to the dog's vicious propensities. The court found compelling evidence that Chino was certified by the Good Dog Foundation to visit healthcare facilities as a therapy dog. As a result, the court dismissed the motion.

Beck v. Cornell University


Plaintiff was a temporary employee in the dairy barns at defendant's Animal Science Teaching and Research Center, where a population of feral cats had been living.  The Center had previously cared for the cats, but adopted a new policy to reduce the population for health and safety reasons.  Despite the Center's directions not to feed the cats, the plaintiff continued to feed the cats with his own cat food and was fired.  Plaintiff brought a suit for negligence and prima facie tort, which Supreme Court dismissed for failure to state a cause of action and the appellate court affirmed. 

Bates v. Constable


A son obtained a dog from defendant for his father to have as a pet.  The dog bit the father and the father sued defendant for failing to warn him of the dog's vicious propensities.  The Court held the defendant did not owe the second transferee of the dog a duty to warn and granted summary judgment in favor of defendant.

Barrett v. State


This case concerns a New York law that protected beavers and their habitat in New York by stating that no one "shall molest or disturb any wild beaver or the dams, houses, homes or abiding places of same."  The claimants owned land that endured considerable commercial destruction due to the beavers that were present.  Claimants were initially awarded damages and alleged on appeal that the law represented an unconstitutional exercise of police power and, that, since the beavers were "owned" by the state at the time of the destruction, the state is liable for the damage.  The Court disagreed, finding the ownership of wildlife is in the state in its sovereign capacity, for the benefit of all the people.  As a result, the state was acting in its proper police power authority and is not liable for the damage that ensued from "liberating" the beaver.

Bard v. Jahnke


A subcontractor was injured at a dairy farm he was working at when he was pinned up against a stall by a bull .  The subcontractor brought claims against the dairy farm and carpenter for negligence and strict liability.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

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