Justia Animal / Dog Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Plaintiff Ann Samolyk sustained neurological and cognitive injuries when she entered a lagoon in Forked River to rescue her neighbors’ dog, which had fallen or jumped into the water. Samolyk’s husband filed a civil action against defendants, alleging they were liable under the rescue doctrine by negligently allowing their dog to fall or jump into the water, prompting Samolyk to attempt to save the dog. Neither the Law Division nor the Appellate Division found the doctrine applicable. The issue presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's review reduced to whether the common law rescue doctrine could be expanded to permit plaintiffs to recover damages for injuries sustained as a proximate result of attempting to rescue defendants’ dog. After reviewing the "noble principles that infuse the public policy underpinning this cause of action," the Supreme Court declined to consider property, in whatever form, to be equally entitled to the unique value and protection bestowed on a human life. The Court nevertheless expanded the rescue doctrine to include acts that appear to be intended to protect property but were in fact reasonable measures ultimately intended to protect a human life. Judgment was affirmed. View "Samolyk v. Berthe" on Justia Law

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In this case brought by a tenant against her landlord and a neighboring tenant alleging breach of the lease's no-pets provision the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing the case, holding that the landlord's accommodation of an emotional support dog was not reasonable.Plaintiff moved into an apartment building because of its no-pets policy. Afterwards, another tenant requested a reasonable accommodation to have his emotion support animal (ESA), a dog, with him on the apartment premises. The landlord allowed the ESA and tried to accommodate the two tenants, but Plaintiff still suffered from allergic attacks. Plaintiff sued, alleging breach of the lease and interference with the quiet enjoyment of her apartment. The landlord asserted in its defense that its waiver of the no-pets policy was a reasonable accommodation that it was required to grant under the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA). The small claims court concluded that the landlord's accommodations were reasonable. The district court dismissed the case. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) the landlord's accommodation of the ESA was not reasonable because Plaintiff had priority in time and the dog's presence posed a direct threat to her health; and (2) Plaintiff was entitled to recover on her claims. View "Cohen v. Clark" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the clean water commission approving Trenton Farms' permit to establish a twin concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), holding that House Bill No. 1713 (HB 1713) does not violate the original purpose, single subject, or clear title requirements of the Missouri Constitution and that there was sufficient evidence regarding the CAFO's protection from a 100-year flood.The clean water commission affirmed the department of natural resource's issuance of a permit to Trenton Farms to establish a CAFO. Hickory Neighbors United, Inc. appealed, arguing (1) HB 1713, which amended Mo. Rev. Stat. 644.021.1 to change the criteria for members of the commission, violated Missouri Constitution article III's original purpose requirement and single subject and clear title requirements; and (2) there was insufficient evidence that CAFO's manure containment structures would be protected from inundation or damages in the event of a 100-year flood, a requirement of 10 C.S.R. 20-8.300. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) HB 1713 is constitutionally valid; and (2) there was sufficient evidence that CAFO structures met regulatory requirements. View "In re Trenton Farms RE, LLC Permit No. MOGS10520" on Justia Law

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The Grossens own but do not live on, Parcel A, adjacent to Parcel B, leased by Frank. The parcels are separated by a common fence. Frank has used Parcel B for pasturing cattle since 2009 and, under his lease is responsible for maintaining the fences on the parcel. When Frank repaired the fence he did not notify the Grossens. In 2011, Frank’s cattle escaped to a nearby road, where Raab collided with a cow. Raab sued, citing the Animals Running Act. Frank filed a third-party complaint against the Grossens under the Contribution Act, citing the Fence Act, negligence, and breach of contract. The cow that injured Raab escaped through a portion of the fence the Grossens were obligated to maintain under a contract between previous owners. The circuit court approved a $225,000 settlement agreement between Raab and Frank; determined that the Animals Running Act barred any contribution from nonowners or nonkeepers of livestock and that Frank’s failure to notify the Grossens of known deficiencies in the fence barred liability under the Fence Act; and held that a breach of the fence contract could not create that liability to Raab, so the contract could not be the basis for contribution. The appellate court reversed in part.The Illinois Supreme Court held that common law does not provide a basis to hold a nonowner or nonkeeper of livestock liable in tort for damage caused by a neighbor’s animals; the Animals Running Act is not a source of a duty for nonowners and nonkeepers to restrain neighboring cattle. Since Frank has not otherwise established potential tort liability, breach of contract does not give rise to liability under the Contribution Act. View "Raab v. Frank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the declaratory and injunction entered by the district court enjoining the City of Arapahoe, Nebraska from enforcing an ordinance against Brooke Wilkison to prohibit his retention of a pit bull at his home within the city limits, holding that Brooke failed to show that allowing him to retain the dog in his home was necessary.The district court's order determined that the city ordinance, if enforced against Brooke, would violate the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 to 3619, by permitting a discriminatory housing practice and precluding Brooke from mitigating the ill effects of his handicap by living with his emotional assistance animal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court did not err in holding that the FHA applies to the ordinance enacted by the city; but (2) Brooke failed to prove that an accommodation from the city's ban on certain breeds of dogs was essential to his equal enjoyment of his property. View "Wilkison v. City of Arapahoe" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged a Monterey County ordinance limiting to four the number of roosters that can be kept on a property without a permit. A permit application must include a plan describing the “method and frequency of manure and other solid waste removal,” and “such other information that the Animal Control Officer may deem necessary.” A permit cannot be issued to anyone who has a criminal conviction for illegal cockfighting or other crime of animal cruelty. The ordinance includes standards, such as maintaining structurally sound pens that protect roosters from cold and are properly cleaned and ventilated and includes exemptions for poultry operations; members of a recognized organization that promotes the breeding of poultry for show or sale; minors who keep roosters for an educational purpose; and minors who keep roosters for a Future Farmers of America project or 4-H project. The court of appeal upheld the ordinance, rejecting arguments that it takes property without compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment; infringes on Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce; violates the Equal Protection Clause; is a prohibited bill of attainder; and violates the rights to privacy and to possess property guaranteed by the California Constitution. View "Perez v. County of Monterey" 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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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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Janet Olier was attacked and chased by a domestic goose in Donna Bailey's yard. In attempting to flee, she fell and broke her arm. Olier sued Bailey under a theory of premises liability and, alternatively, under the "dangerous propensity" rule. The trial court granted summary judgment because it found that Olier was a licensee on Bailey's property and that Bailey did not breach her duty of care toward Olier. It also denied relief under the dangerous-propensity rule because there was no evidence that the particular goose that bit Olier ever had exhibited dangerous propensities prior to the incident. Olier appealed to the Circuit Court, which affirmed. Olier then filed this appeal. After review, the Supreme Court held that, while Olier could not, as a matter of law, pursue her claim under her theory of general premises liability, she could proceed under the dangerous propensity theory. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Olier v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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A jury found defendant-appellant Rodney Brossart guilty of terrorizing, preventing arrest, and failing to comply with the law for estray animals. In 2011, two of Brossart's adult children observed three cow-calf pairs loose on or near Brossart's property and they determined the cattle did not belong to Brossart. The cattle were secured in a fenced "missile site" Brossart leased. One of Brossart's children told him about the cattle after the cattle were secured. The following day, neighbor Chris Anderson discovered three cow-calf pairs had escaped from his fenced property. Anderson tracked the cattle to Brossart's property and spoke to Brossart about the cattle. According to Anderson, Brossart informed him that he would have to buy the cattle back. Anderson returned to his farm and contacted the Nelson County Sheriff's Department. Eric Braathen, a deputy for the Nelson County Sheriff's Department, contacted Fred Frederikson, a licensed peace officer and a brand inspector for the North Dakota Stockmen's Association. While driving to Brossart's farm, Braathen and Frederikson saw Brossart pumping water from a field. Braathen introduced Frederikson to Brossart and Frederikson asked about the cattle and whether he could go look at them. According to Braathen, Brossart informed the officers "if you step foot on my property, you are going to not be walking away." The situation quickly escalated, Braathen attempted to arrest Brossart, Brossart resisted, and Braathen used a taser on Brossart multiple times before he was handcuffed. Brossart was charged with failing to comply with the estray chapter and preventing arrest. He appealed his conviction. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that the district court did not give the jury any instructions explaining what constituted a threat and that communications that are not a "true threat" are protected speech. The district court therefore did not correctly and adequately inform the jury of the applicable law and erred by failing to include a jury instruction defining what constituted a "threat." Brossart's terrorizing conviction was reversed and the case remanded for a new trial on that charge. The Supreme Court affirmed in all other respects. View "North Dakota v. Brossart" on Justia Law