New York

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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. 

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This unpublished small claims court opinion concerns a dog bite.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.

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.

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

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.

 

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.

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.

Carter v. Metro North Assocs. In this case, a tenant sued her landlord for injuries sustained when the tenant was bitten on the face by a pit bull owned by another tenant. The court held that before a pet owner, or the landlord of the building in which the pet lives, may be held strictly liable for an injury inflicted by the animal, the plaintiff must establish both (1) that the animal had vicious propensities and (2) that the defendant knew or should have known of the animal's propensities. In this case, there was no evidence that the pit bull had vicious propensities, nor did any of the evidence support a finding that the landlord had, or should have had, knowledge of any such propensities. The appellate court found the lower court erred when it took "judicial notice of the vicious nature of the breed as a whole." The court noted that there are alternate opinions and evidence that preclude taking judicial notice that pit bulls are inherently vicious as a breed. The trial court order was reversed, judgment for plaintiff vacated, and complaint dismissed.
Christensen v. Lundsten


In this New York case, the parent of child injured by a dog brought an action seeking to have the dog declared a “dangerous dog” under the relevant law. The Court conducted a trial of the “dangerous dog” petition filed and rendered an oral decision that declared the respondents' Chesapeake Bay Retriever “Nellie” to be a dangerous dog under New York Agricultural and Markets Law § 121. The parties contested the appropriateness of a finding of “negligence” and “strict liability” and the entry of judgment. The District Court held that the court would not resolve issue of negligence because the issue was not properly joined for disposition; however, the owners were strictly liable for child's unreimbursed medical expenses.

Christian v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores, Inc.


This New York case consists of an action to recover damages for personal injuries. The plaintiffs appeal the granting of the motion of the defendant for summary judgment dismissing the complaint insofar as asserted against him and the cross motion of the defendants Petco. The infant plaintiff allegedly sustained personal injuries when she was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant Kenneth Coughlin at a Petco store. The court held that the evidence submitted established that the defendants were not aware that this dog had ever bitten anyone or exhibited any aggressive behavior.

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