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Plaintiffs, members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, visited the Cherokee Bear Zoo. Plaintiffs observed bear pits containing four bears, identified by signs as grizzly bears. The pits were compact and made entirely of concrete. Each pit had a small pool of water, but neither had any vegetation nor any shade. Plaintiffs observed the bears in listless form, pacing and begging for food. Patrons fed the bears apples and dry bread sold by the Zoo. Plaintiffs brought a citizen suit, alleging that the Zoo’s practice of keeping the bears in the described living conditions constituted a “tak[ing]” of and possession of a taken threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1). Plaintiffs’ argued that the Zoo’s conduct is a form of “harass[ment]” of, and “harm” to, its bears. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s rulings in favor of Plaintiffs on the issues of standing and the bears’ status as protected but vacated the court’s ruling against Plaintiffs on the issue of whether the Zoo is committing an unlawful taking. To establish harassment, Plaintiffs must prove that the Zoo’s husbandry practices fall within 50 C.F.R. 17.3’s definition of harass and that those practices do not fall within the enumerated exclusion. The district court did not reach the first issue and improperly declined to ask whether the Zoo’s animal husbandry practices are “generally accepted.” View "Hill v. Coggins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Kathleen Swigart and defendant Carl Bruno participated in an organized endurance horseback riding event with approximately 47 other riders. Swigart was in the lead and had dismounted at a required checkpoint along the course. There was no dispute that Bruno's horse struck Swigart while she was standing on the ground, injuring her. Swigart sued Bruno, alleging causes of action for negligence, reckless or intentional misconduct, and having an animal with a dangerous propensity. The trial court granted Bruno's motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals concluded the doctrine of primary assumption of risk barred Swigart's cause of action for negligence, and that Swigart did not meet her burden of establishing a genuine issue of material fact as to Bruno's alleged recklessness or Bruno's horse's alleged propensity for danger. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Swigart v. Bruno" on Justia Law

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The Animal Welfare Act does not directly address license renewal but does expressly authorize the USDA to promulgate and implement its own renewal standards. PETA filed suit challenging the license renewal process for animal exhibitors promulgated by the USDA through which the USDA may renew such license despite a licensee's noncompliance with the Act. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the USDA's Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court agreed with the Eleventh Circuit that the Act's licensing regulations embody a reasonable accommodation of the conflicting policy interests Congress has delegated to the USDA and were entitled to Chevron deference. View "PETA v. USDA" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant did not comply with the statutes, rules and regulations governing Block Management Area (BMA) hunting, he did not have permission to hunt and harvest game at Skytop Ranch BMA, thus violating Mont. Code Ann. 87-6-415(1). Defendant was convicted of hunting without landowner permission in violation of section 87-6-415(1). The conviction stemmed from Defendant’s act of harvesting a cow elk without first obtaining permission to hunt at Skytop Ranch BMA. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss, arguing that by participating in The Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks’ Block Management Program, Skytop Ranch statutorily gave its permission for the public to hunt on its property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that by violating the use restrictions for private property enrolled in the Block Management Program, Defendant violated section 87-6-415(1). View "State v. McGregor" on Justia Law

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While Md. Code. Ann. Crim. Law 10-615 does not provide for seizure of an animal that is already in state custody in connection with a criminal proceeding, an officer of a humane society may notify the animal’s owner or custodian of an intent to take possession of the animal upon the animal’s release from state custody in the criminal case, and the seizure of an animal under the statute need not occur contemporaneously with the alleged mistreatment of the animal. In this case, the humane society exercised its authority under section 10-615 to take possession of Petitioner’s animals based on allegations of animal cruelty. Petitioner unsuccessfully petitioned the district court for their return. Ultimately, the vast majority of the animal cruelty charges against Petitioner were disposed of by dismissal or acquittal, but the humane society retained possession of the animals. The Court of Appeals remanded the case in light of the change of circumstances since the district court’s initial decision, holding (1) Petitioner was not entitled to return of the animals based on the humane society’s alleged failure to comply with section 10-615; but (2) the denial of Petitioner’s petition for return of the animals did not eliminate Petitioner’s ownership interest in the animals. View "Rohrer v. Humane Society of Washington County" on Justia Law

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While walking past respondent Alexander Trujillo’s home on his way to the playground, petitioner N.M. became frightened when Trujillo’s two pit bulls rushed at the front-yard fence. Although the dogs did not get out of the yard or touch N.M., N.M. ran across the street and was struck by a passing van, which seriously injured him. N.M., by and through his parent and legal guardian, sued Trujillo for, as pertinent here, negligence. Trujillo moved to dismiss that claim, contending that N.M. had not sufficiently pleaded the requisite element of duty. The district court agreed and dismissed the case, and in a split, published decision, a division of the court of appeals affirmed. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari, and found given the circumstances presented here, concluded Trujillo did not owe N.M. a duty of care. Because N.M.’s claim against Trujillo was predicated on Trujillo’s alleged nonfeasance, or failure to act, and because this case was distinguishable from cases in which a dangerous or vicious animal attacks and directly injures someone, N.M. was required to plead a special relationship between himself and Trujillo in order to establish the duty of care necessary to support a negligence claim. View "N.M. v. Trujillo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Aristea Hupp (Aristea) appealed after the trial court granted defendants Solera Oak Valley Greens Association and City of Beaumont Animal Control Officer Jack Huntsman’s ex parte application to dismiss Aristea’s first amended complaint (FAC) as a vexatious litigant. Aristea argued: (1) the trial court’s order granting Solera’s ex parte application to dismiss deprived her of her due process rights to notice and an opportunity to be heard; (2) Solera waived its vexatious litigant defense by not raising it in its first responsive pleading; and (3) under the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (Davis-Stirling Act), she was authorized to seek recovery of damages sustained by her son, Paul Hupp (Paul), from violations of Solera’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs). In 2014, Paul was declared a vexatious litigant. In 2015, Aristea and Paul filed a complaint against Solera over enforcing a community rule regarding muzzling of Pit Bulls on properties within the Solera community. The Hupps walked their dogs through the community without a muzzle. The Hupps argued the rule was only applied to the Hupps, and that Solera could not single out any one breed. After review, the Court of Appeal affirmed dismissal as to all claims alleged in the FAC which were brought by or for the benefit of Paul, on the ground he has been declared a vexatious litigant. Because Aristea had not been declared a vexatious litigant, the judgment of dismissal was reversed as to all claims in the FAC that were solely personal to Aristea. View "Hupp v. Solera Oak Valley Greens Assn." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court’s determination that information such as names, addresses and telephone numbers contained on animal health certificates in the custody of the Department of Agricultural Resources is protected from disclosure under two exemptions from the statutory definition of “public records.” The two statutory exemptions at issue in this case were Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 4, 7, twenty-sixth (n) and (c), which implicate public safety and privacy. After analyzing the scope of exemptions (n) and (c) and setting forth the appropriate constructions of the exemptions, the Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. View "People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Department of Agricultural Resources" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a corporal in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss claims related to the search of a residence. The district court determined that defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity because a reasonable officer would have known that a warrant should not have issued based on the information he provided to the issuing court. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that it was not entirely unreasonable for defendant to believe that his affidavit established sufficient indicia of probable cause for the search and seizure of the items listed in the warrant. In this case, the affidavit provided probable cause to seize a deer, based on an anonymous tip and a recorded jailhouse call. Furthermore, the items described in the warrant were relevant to the criminal offense under investigation, as they directly related to the existence, capture, and maintaining of a pet deer. View "Kiesling v. Spurlock" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-taxpayers filed a complaint against the City of Los Angeles and the Director of the Los Angeles Zoo (collectively, the City) alleging that the zoo was abusing its elephants. The trial court granted summary judgment to the City, ruling that the complaint raised nonjusticiable issues of public policy. The court of appeals reversed. After a bench trial, the trial court issued injunctions against the City. The court of appeal affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeal’s earlier decision established law of the case, thus barring the City’s new argument that the claim for equitable relief was precluded by Cal. Civ. Code 3369; and (2) the Legislature authorized taxpayer actions aimed at enjoining government expenditures that support criminal conduct. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) this case is governed by the general rule that law of the case does not apply to arguments that might have been but were not presented and resolved on an earlier appeal; and (2) the Legislature did not intend to overturn the long-established law governing equitable relief for violations of penal law when it amended Civil Code section 3369, but rather maintained the rule that a taxpayer action will not lie to enforce a Penal Code provision. View "Leider v. Lewis" on Justia Law