Washington

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Sexton v. Brown


In this Washington case, Valeri Sexton and Corey Recla sued Kenny Brown, DVM, for damages arising from the death of their dog. Plaintiffs alleged a number of causes of action including negligence, breach of bailment, conversion, and trespass to chattels. The incident occurred after plaintiff's dog ran away while plaintiff was camping Marblemount area. Another party found the Yorkshire terrier and took it to defendant-veterinarian's office, the Pet Emergency Center (PEC). After being examined first by a one veterinarian, defendant-veterinarian Brown took over care and determined that the dog suffered from a life threatening condition; he then told the finders that if they did not want to pay for further care, they could have the dog euthanized. This court affirmed the trial court's decision that the medical malpractice act does not apply to veterinarians. It also affirmed the dismissal of Sexton's breach of bailment claim, finding that Brown was not a finder under relevant Washington law. The court did find that there were material issues of fact about the measure of damages, and reversed the decision to limit damages to the fair market or replacement value of the dog. Further, the court found genuine issues of material fact about whether Brown's actions were justified when viewed under the requirements of Washington's veterinary practice laws.

Sebek v. City of Seattle


Two Seattle taxpayers filed a taxpayer action lawsuit against the city of Seattle for violating Washington’s animal cruelty statute and Seattle’s animal cruelty ordinance with regard to a zoo’s elephant exhibit. After the lawsuit was dismissed by the King County Superior Court for lack of taxpayer standing, plaintiffs appealed the court’s decision. The appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision because the plaintiffs’ complaint alleged the zoological society, not the city, acted illegally and because the operating agreement between the city and the zoological society made it clear that the zoological society, not the city, had exclusive control over the operations of the elephant exhibit. Significantly, the appeals court found that a city’s contractual funding obligations to a zoological society that  cares and owns an animal exhibit at a zoo is not enough to allege a city violated animal cruelty laws.

Ronald Hane and Laurie Simerson, plaintiffs v. Maurice James and Mary James, defendants
Robert Zauper, Plaintiff v. Michael Lababit and Jane Doe Lababit, and the marital community comprised thereof; and Does 1-10, De


This Kitsap County, Washington judgment summary, findings of fact, and conclusions of law found defendants liable for five claims including simple negligence, strict liability, private nuisance, public nuisance, and gross negligence. In the award of damages, plaintiff received a total judgment in the amount of $75,501.09, which included $50,000 for intrinsic value and $25,000 for emotional distress.

Rhoades v. City of Battle Ground


In this case, exotic animal owners appeal a summary judgment order dismissing their various constitutional challenges to a City of Battle Ground ordinance that prohibits ownership of such animals within city limits.  Specifically, the owners contended that the ordinance violated their right to equal protection under the constitution because it treats those who keep exotic pets within the City differently from those who keep dangerous dogs.  The court held that it was within the city's police power authority to enact these laws if they were supported by a rational relationship.  In fact, the court found that the local legislative body may draw a different conclusion from the Washington Supreme Court in areas of public safety and the exercise of the local government's police powers provided it does not conflict with the general laws of the state.  (

Note

:  publication of case ordered Feb. 7, 2003 in 115 Wash.App. 752,

63 P.3d 142

).

Rhoades v. City of Battle Ground


Exotic pet owners challenged on equal protection grounds an ordinance that banned exotic pets, yet allowed dangerous dogs under certain conditions. The court, in upholding the ordinance, found a rational relationship between the regulation and the public interest in preventing exotic pet attacks.

Repin v. State

In this case, Robert Repin sued Washington State University (WSU) and WSU veterinarian, Dr. Margaret Cohn-Urbach after his dog suffered complications while being euthanized. Repin argued that Cohn-Urbach was grossly negligent in performing the euthanasia which caused his dog pain and prolonged her death. Ultimately, Repin sued for breach of contract, reckless breach of contract, professional negligence, lack of informed consent, intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress, and conversion. The trial court dismissed all of Repin’s claims and Repin appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision and found that Repin was unable to provide sufficient evidence to establish that a reasonable jury may be able to find in his favor. As a result, the Court of Appeals dismissed Repins claims. 

Rabon v. City of Seattle (II)


This Washington case constitutes plaintiff's second appeal in extended litigation aimed at preventing the City of Seattle from destroying his dogs after a jury convicted him of the criminal charge of owning vicious dogs. The case began when Rabon filed a civil suit seeking an injunction against having his dogs destroyed.  This present appeal is from an order dismissing his constitutional claims against the City on summary judgment.  In affirming the order of summary judgment, this court held that a person's interest in keeping a vicious dog as a pet is not so great as to require a more careful procedure than is provided by Seattle's administrative and hearing process. The fact that plaintiff did not have a right to an immediate pre-deprivation hearing before the dogs were seized and impounded is justified by the strong public interest in prompt action to prevent more attacks. 

Rabon v. City of Seattle


Petitioner dog owner sought an injunction against a Seattle ordinance that allowed the city to destroy a vicious dog once the owner has been found guilty of owning a vicious dog (two

lhasa


apsos)

.  The majority held that the state statute regulating dogs did not preempt field of regulating dangerous dogs and the city ordinance did not irreconcilably conflict with state statute.  Notably, Justice Sanders filed a strong dissent, pointing out that these dogs are the primary companions for the elderly petitioner.  While the state law regulating dangerous dogs allows cities to regulate "potentially dangerous dogs," the Seattle ordinance in question fails to make a distinction between the two types of dogs.  Justice Sanders wrote: "As Mr. Rabon notes, if the City were correct, dog owners and defense attorneys would find themselves arguing the bite was so vicious that the dog qualifies as "dangerous" in order to spare the dog's life."  Thus, the ordinance "eviscerates" the dual definition and violates the overriding state law on dangerous dogs.

Pickford v. Masion


Plaintiffs' dog was mauled by Defendants' dogs and sustained permanent injuries.  The trial court granted summary judgment against Plaintiffs' claims of negligent and malicious infliction of emotional distress.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of partial summary judgment and further held the destruction of the companionship relationship could not be extended to dogs.

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