New York

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Hammer v. American Kennel Club


Plaintiff sought both declaratory and injunctive relief against the American Kennel Club (AKC) for use of standards in dog show competitions for Brittany Spaniel dogs that require the docking of their tails.  The issue in this appeal is whether Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 grants plaintiff, who wishes to enter his dog and compete without penalty in breed contests, a private right of action to preclude defendants from using a standard that encourages him to "dock" his Brittany Spaniel's tail.  The Court of Appeals concluded that it would be inconsistent with the applicable legislative scheme to imply a private right of action in plaintiff's favor because the statute does not, either expressly or impliedly, incorporate a method for private citizens to obtain civil relief.  In light of the comprehensive statutory enforcement scheme, recognition of a private civil right of action is incompatible with the mechanisms chosen by the Legislature.

Hammer v. American Kennel Club


Plaintiff Jon Hammer is the owner of a pure-bred Brittany Spaniel which has a natural, undocked tail approximately ten (10) inches long.  He contends that tail docking is a form of animal cruelty, and that the practical effect of defendant American Kennel Club's tail standards for Brittany Spaniels is to effectively exclude his dog from meaningfully competing shows unless he complies with what he perceives as an unfair and discriminatory practice.  Specifically, his amended complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the complained-of standard (1) unlawfully discriminates against plaintiff by effectively precluding him from entering his dog in breed competitions, (2) is arbitrary and capricious, (3) violates Agriculture and Markets Law § 353, and (4) is null and void as in derogation of law; he further seeks an injunction prohibiting defendants from applying, enforcing or utilizing the standard.  The court held that plaintiff lacked standing to obtain any of the civil remedies he sought for the alleged violation of Agriculture and Markets Law Section 353.  The Legislature's inclusion of a complete scheme for enforcement of its provisions precludes the possibility that it intended enforcement by private individuals as well.  The dissent disagreed with the majority's standing analysis, finding that plaintiff's object is not to privately enforce § 353, insofar as seeking to have the defendants' prosecuted for cruelty.  Rather, plaintiff was seeking a declaration that the AKC's standard for judging the Brittany Spaniel deprives him of a benefit of membership on the basis of his unwillingness to violate a state law and, thus, he wanted to enjoin defendants from enforcing that standard against him.  The dissent found that whether tail docking for purely cosmetic reasons violates § 353 is solely a question of law and entirely appropriate for a declaratory judgment.  Cosmetic docking of tails was wholly unjustifiable under the law in the dissent's eyes.  While plaintiff pointed out that docking may serve some purposes for hunting dogs, it is not a justification for docking the tails of non-hunting dogs, such as plaintiff's, for purposes of AKC competitions.

Hastings v. Sauve
Plaintiff motorist was injured after hitting a cow that had wandered onto the highway, and sued owner for negligently failing to confine cow. The Supreme Court held that injury claims could only proceed under strict liability theory based on owner's knowledge of animal's vicious propensities. There was no evidence that cow had a vicious propensity, or that owner knew of propensity, thus, owner was not liable.

This order was Reversed by

Hastings v. Sauve

, 2013 WL 1829834 (N.Y., 2013).

Hastings v. Sauve


After plaintiff motorist was injured after hitting a cow that had wandered onto the highway, she sued farm owner, operator of cattle-shipping business, and operator's assistant, alleging that defendants were negligent in not properly confining cow to its pasture. There was no evidence that cow had a vicious or abnormal propensity, or that cow's owner knew of propensity, as required to support a strict liability claim. However, on appeal to the Court of Appeals, the court held that a landowner or the owner of an animal may be liable under ordinary tort-law principles when a farm animal is negligently allowed to stray from the property on which the animal is kept.


Humane Soc. of U.S., Inc. v. Brennan


In this New York case, the petitioners, various organizations and individuals generally opposed to the production of foie gras (a product derived from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese who were force fed prior to slaughter) submitted a petition to respondent Department of Agriculture and Markets seeking a declaration that foie gras is an adulterated food product within the meaning of Agriculture and Markets Law §§ 200. The respondent Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets refused to issue a statement to the requested declaration. On review to this court, petitioners sought a judicial pronouncement that foie gras is an adulterated food product. This court held that petitioners lacked standing because they did not suffer an injury within the zone of interests protected by State Administrative Procedure Act §§ 204.

Huntingdon Life Sciences, Inc. v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty


Animal rights protestors appealed the decision of the Supreme Court, Westchester County that permanently enjoined the protestors from engaging in protest activity that constituted a private nuisance (to wit, participating in targeted protest at the home of the plaintiff Mark L. Bibi). This court found that the protestors failed to refute the evidence from the lower court that showed the plaintiffs were entitled to a permanent injunction as a matter of law (including evidence of the appellant's federal conviction conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992). While the court did find that the appellant-protestor's incarceration did not render the appeal academic, imposition of the injunction was a reasonable and constitutional restriction on protest activity.

In re Clinton Cty. Synopsis from the court: County filed notice of claim, directed toward estate of cattle farmer who had passed away after he was charged with animal cruelty, seeking reimbursement for costs incurred in connection with care of seized cattle. The Surrogate's Court, Clinton County, Timothy J. Lawliss, J., held that: (1 ) county failed to establish that it was entitled to any relief based upon a theory of quantum meruit, and (2) even assuming that service providers, and thus county upon payment of service providers' bills, enriched farmer, county was not entitled to recover based upon a theory of unjust enrichment because criminal charges against farmer were dismissed upon his death. Notice of claim denied and dismissed.
In the Matter of the Application of Richard M. COPLAND, as an Executor of the estate of Lenore Lewis Abels, Deceased Co-executor of an estate petitioned the Westchester County Surrogate's Court for a decree in accordance with EPTL 7–8.1[d] reducing the amount of money to be transferred from the estate to the trustees of a testamentary pet trust established under the decedent's will. Since the decedent gave very specific instructions as to how she wanted her cats to be cared for and the petition was in opposition to the decedent’s wishes, the court denied the reduction.
Iris Lewis v. Al DiDonna, Pharmacist; James DiDonna, Pharmacist; Eckerd Drug Store of Stone Ridge, New York; Eckerd Corporation


In this case, the plaintiff brought her dog of nine years to a veterinarian and was given a prescription for an anti-inflammatory drug called Feldene to treat the dog’s condition. After the dog died of renal failure complications, plaintiff discovered that the Feldene prescription was mislabeled by the pharmacist. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division for the Third Judicial Department held that the allegations in plaintiff’s verified complaint sufficiently allege defendant’s wanton and reckless disregard of plaintiff’s rights to survive a motion to dismiss. Further, the court noted that while plaintiff did not appeal the dismissal of her cause of action for loss of companionship, the court made it clear that loss of companionship is not cognizable cause of action in the state of New York.

Jackson v. Georgalos Plaintiff appealed an order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The personal injury action arises from an incident where defendants' dog, who was barking at the time, jumped on the screen door causing the door to open, whereupon the dog ran out of the house. When the plaintiff turned to get away from the dog, her ankle twisted, causing her to fall on the steps and become injured. To recover in New York on such an action, a plaintiff must prove that the dog had vicious propensities and that the owner of the dog, or a person in control of the premises where the dog was, knew or should have known of such propensities. The court held that plaintiff did not raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the defendant was aware of the dog's alleged propensity to run out of the house and chase after people. Defendants' motion summary judgment and dismissal was affirmed.

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