Justia Animal / Dog Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that defendants deceived plaintiffs into believing their products were approved by the FDA. After the district court remanded the case back to state court, the Eighth Circuit granted defendants' petition for review under 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1), limiting review to the issue of federal question jurisdiction. The court held that federal question jurisdiction exists in this case, because plaintiffs rely explicitly on federal law throughout their pleadings and their prayer for relief invokes federal jurisdiction where it seeks injunctive and declaratory relief that necessarily requires the interpretation and application of federal law, including the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. Therefore, based on the allegations in the complaint and relief sought, the court found that a federal issue surrounding the state law claims is necessarily raised, actually disputed, substantial, and capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wullschleger v. Royal Canin U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an amended complaint seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that each individual defendant violated his constitutional right to procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment when the local animal shelter, after a five-day holding period, put a stray dog up for adoption and spayed the dog before delivering it to the adopting family. Defendants did not know that the stray dog was plaintiff's young German Shepherd, which boasts world champion lineage and had escaped from plaintiff's back yard two weeks earlier. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court failed to devote sufficient attention to whether plaintiff had a protected procedural due process property interest and if so, the nature and extent of that interest. The court agreed with the Supreme Court of Arkansas that affirmative pre-deprivation notice is not constitutionally required in this situation, when an animal shelter holds a stray dog for more than five days and then adopts out and spays the dog after the owner fails to file a claim. The court also held that plaintiff failed to prove that each individual defendant's conduct violated his right to procedural due process. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order insofar as it denied summary judgment to the individual defendants acting in their individual capacities, remanding with directions. View "Lunon v. Botsford" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims challenging the city's ordinance based on lack of standing. The challenged ordinance made it unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport or sell within the City of Sioux City, Iowa, any pit bull. In this case, plaintiff admitted that she does not currently own a dog because she and her fiance work full time and do not have the time to own a dog, but she intended to adopt a dog in the near future. The court held that, to the extent plaintiff sought prospective relief against future conduct, she failed to show that she owns a dog and does not live in the city. Furthermore, her intention to adopt a dog in the near future was uncertain and insufficient to confer standing. The court also held that plaintiff's past injuries did not grant her standing because she failed to demonstrate how her proposed relief redressed them. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to hold an evidentiary hearing prior to its sua sponte dismissal of plaintiff's claim. View "Myers v. Sioux City" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., seeking to enjoin defendants' mistreatment of endangered species. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order that the endangered species be transferred to another facility and denied plaintiffs' request for attorney fees and costs. Determining that plaintiffs had standing, the court held that the district court did not err in finding defendants had harassed the lemurs by keeping them in social isolation; by not developing, documenting, and following an appropriate plan for environmental enhancement; and by not providing clean water and sanitary conditions. The district court also did not err by ruling that defendants had injured, and thereby harmed, the tigers by failing to provide timely and appropriate veterinary care. Furthermore, the decision to imposed upon defendants the responsibility of finding an appropriate, licensed facility for the lemurs and tigers was well within the district court's broad equitable powers. The court held that the circumstances of this case justified the denial of attorney fees and costs. The court rejected the remaining arguments and affirmed the judgment. View "Kuehl v. Sellner" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., seeking to enjoin defendants' mistreatment of endangered species. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order that the endangered species be transferred to another facility and denied plaintiffs' request for attorney fees and costs. Determining that plaintiffs had standing, the court held that the district court did not err in finding defendants had harassed the lemurs by keeping them in social isolation; by not developing, documenting, and following an appropriate plan for environmental enhancement; and by not providing clean water and sanitary conditions. The district court also did not err by ruling that defendants had injured, and thereby harmed, the tigers by failing to provide timely and appropriate veterinary care. Furthermore, the decision to imposed upon defendants the responsibility of finding an appropriate, licensed facility for the lemurs and tigers was well within the district court's broad equitable powers. The court held that the circumstances of this case justified the denial of attorney fees and costs. The court rejected the remaining arguments and affirmed the judgment. View "Kuehl v. Sellner" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity against a trooper who shot and killed plaintiff's dog when the dog ran onto a highway and obstructed traffic. The court held that the issue was not whether the trooper had the authority to seize the dog, but whether the degree of force he employed was reasonable to accomplish the necessary seizure. In this case, the trooper's actions were objectively reasonable under the circumstances and he was entitled to qualified immunity. Even assuming a constitutional violation, the trooper was entitled to qualified immunity because his conduct did not violate a clearly established Fourth Amendment right. Plaintiff has not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that an officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he shot and killed an unrestrained, unsupervised dog creating a serious risk to public safety and avoiding numerous attempts to control him without force. View "Hansen v. Black" 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