Ohio

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McDonald v. Ohio State Univ. Veterinary Hospital


After defendant filed a stipulation admitting liability for a botched surgery on defendant's show dog that ultimately led to euthanization, a trial was held as to the issue of damages.  Evidence adduced at trial showed that "Nemo" had been trained by plaintiff as a Schutzhund or "sport dog" in Schutzhund schooling.  The court noted that while dogs are considered personal property in Ohio and market value is the standard award for such personal property, market value in this case was merely a "guideline."  In addition to the loss of the specially trained dog, the court also found significant the loss of stud fees for the dog and potential future gains in sustaining the trial court's award of $5,000 in damages.  

Long v. Noah's Lost Ark, Inc.


Owner of lion cub sued animal shelter for refusing to return the cub to him, alleging breach of contract, conversion, replevin, fraud, and intentional misrepresentation.  The Trial Court granted summary judgment for plaintiff and defendant appealed.  On appeal, the Court affirmed for plaintiff, as plaintiff had established that he was the legal owner of the lion and was entitled to possession.

Lewis v. Chovan


This Ohio case raises the issue of whether an employee of a pet grooming establishment is a "keeper" under state law, thereby preventing the application of strict liability for injury. The employee

was bitten by dog while attempting to assist the establishment's owner and another employee in giving the dog a bath. She then brought an action against dog's owners asserting, among other things, that the owners were strictly liable for her injuries. The court relied on its previous definition of the word "keeper" in the context of R.C. 955.28(B) as "one having physical charge or care of the dogs." Based upon this precedent, the court found that a person who is responsible for exercising physical control over a dog is a "keeper" even if that control is only temporary.

Lay v. Chamberlain Chamberlain owned a dog breeding kennel with over one hundred fifty dogs. An investigation was conducted when the Sheriff's Office received complaints about the condition of the animals. Observations indicated the kennel was hot, overcrowded, and poorly ventilated. The dogs had severely matted fur, were sick or injured, and lived in cages covered in feces. Dog food was moldy and water bowls were dirty. Many cages were stacked on top of other cages, allowing urine and feces to fall on the dogs below. A court order was granted to remove the dogs. The humane society, rescue groups, and numerous volunteers assisted by providing food, shelter, grooming and necessary veterinary care while Chamberlain's criminal trial was pending. Chamberlain was convicted of animal cruelty. The organizations and volunteers sued Chamberlain for compensation for the care provided to the animals. The trial court granted the award and the appellate court affirmed. Ohio code authorized appellees' standing to sue for the expenses necessary to prevent neglect to the animals. The evidence was sufficient to support an award for damages for the humane society, the rescue groups, and the individual volunteers that protected and provided for the well-being of the dogs during the months of the trial.
Langford v. Emergency Pet Clinic


Plaintiff-appellant Edna L. Langford appeals from summary judgments granted in favor of defendants-appellees, Emergency Pet Clinic and Animal Kingdom Pet Cemetery, arising out of the death and interment of her dog, Bozie, who was buried in a mass grave contrary to her wishes.  Since plaintiff did not satisfy the requirements necessary to bring a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (to wit, the extreme and outrageous element and proof of mental anguish beyond her capacity to endure it ), the appellate court held that the lower court did not err in finding no basis for the claim.  The court also disallowed her claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress as plaintiff was neither a bystander to an accident nor in fear of physical harm to her own person. 

Krzywicki v. Galletti Appellant commenced an action against defendant boyfriend, the owner of the dog that bit her, and his business, which she held was strictly liable for the injuries she suffered, where the attack occurred. The claims against defendant boyfriend were dismissed with prejudice. A jury verdict, however, found that although the business was a “harborer” of the dog, appellant was barred from recovery because she was a “keeper of the dog in that she had physical care or charge of dog, temporary or otherwise, at the time of the incident.” Appellant appealed, raising seven assignments of error for review. In addressing appellant’s claims, the Ohio Court of Appeals held that the status of an individual as an owner, keeper or harborer was relevant when deciding if an individual was barred from availing him or herself of the protections afforded by liability statutes. The court of appeals also ruled that the trial court properly gave the jury instruction and that the jury’s verdict was not “defective.” Further the court held that the testimony established at trial demonstrated that appellant had a significant relationship with the dog and that there was competent and credible evidence presented at trial to support the business’s position that appellant exercised some degree of management, possession, care custody or control over the dog. The judgment of the lower court was therefore affirmed with Judge Kathleen Ann Keough concurring and Judge Melody Stewart concurring in judgment only.
Kovar v. City of Cleveland


This case involved a petition by LaVeda Kovar, et al against the City of Cleveland to obtain an order to restrain the City from disposing of dogs impounded by the City Dog Warden by giving or selling them to hospitals or laboratories for experimental and research purposes.  The Court of Appeals held that the City of Cleveland, both by its constitutional right of home rule and by powers conferred on municipal corporations by statute, had the police power right to provide that no dog should be permitted to run at large unless muzzled, and any dog found at large and unmuzzled would be impounded.  Further, by carrying out the mandate of the city ordinance by disposing of these impounded dogs was simply the performance of a ministerial or administrative duty properly delegated to Director of Public Safety.

Jefferson v. Mirando


In this Ohio case, the defendant was charged with violating ordinance setting maximum number of dogs or cats that a person could "harbor" per family dwelling unit.  The court first observed that the village of Jefferson's ordinance benefits from a strong presumption of constitutionality, and defendant Mirando bears the burden of demonstrating unconstitutionality of this ordinance beyond any remaining fair debate on the issue.  The court held that ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague and did not conflict with state statutes regulating kennels.

In re Searight's Estate This Ohio case dealt with a deceased testator's will that bequeathed his dog to a certain person, including $1000 to be used for the care of the dog. The issues in this case were whether the testamentary bequest for the care of the dog was valid in Ohio as a proper subject of a "honorary trust," whether the bequest violated the rule against perpetuities, and whether the bequest was subject to the inheritance tax laws of Ohio. Ohio's Ninth District Court of Appeals held: 1) the testator's purpose was not capricious or illegal, and that such gift, whether designated as an 'honorary trust' or a gift with a power which is valid when exercised, is lawful; 2) such a bequest does not, by the terms of the will, violate the rule against perpetuities; and 3) a succession tax based on the amount of money expended for the care of the dog cannot lawfully be imposed, since the money is not property passing for the use of a "person, institution or corporation."
Hitchcock v. Conklin


Appellant dog owners sought review of the decision from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (Ohio), which granted the motion to dismiss filed by appellee veterinarian on the basis that the breach of contract and negligence action filed against the veterinarian was barred by the one-year statute of limitations on malpractice claims under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2305.11(A). On appeal, the court reversed and held that § 2305.11(A) applied only to physicians, attorneys, and other professional specifically delineated in the statute, not veterinarians. The court reversed the dismissal of the owners' breach of contract and negligence action filed against the veterinarian and remanded for further proceedings.

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