Category Archives: Animals

Did Dog Already Have Its “One Bite”: And Thus Was Vicious Propensity Known?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Dog bite case decisions regularly and routinely address the legal basis of liability: did (or did not) the owner know of the canine’s “vicious propensity”. But that is where the similarity begins and ends. As a recent case illustrates, each case is “fact-specific” and requires an examination of the dog’s “propensity” pedigree.

Mindy Gordon was the owner of a dog named Mystery. On September 30, 2018, Amisha Mulji was walking her dog named CJ around 8:45 in the evening. Mystery was also out and being handled by Melissa Torres. Mystery was leashed but was not muzzled. Mystery then attacked, scratching Mulji and biting CJ. Eventually, CJ died from its injuries. As a result, the New York City Department of Health entered into a settlement with Gordon setting forth the care and responsibilities of Mystery. The settlement stated “Mystery was involved in both the foregoing incident and a prior incident on December 11, 2015, in which Mystery attacked and caused physical injuries to persons and killed another dog.”

Continue reading

“Beware of the Dog”: Did Pet Have Known Vicious Propensities?

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

“Every dog is entitled to one bite” is shorthand for the principle that a dog owner may not be liable for an attack or bite by a pet without known vicious propensities. But, as a recent case illustrates, a determination of whether or not the vicious propensities were known to the owner is both circumstance specific and fact-intensive.

Kathleen Stack, a home health aide, alleged that she was injured on June 14, 2017, on-premises owned by Frank Manfredi and Lillian Manfredi premises at 115 Quinby Avenue, City of White Plains. Stack alleged that she was attacked by a dog who charged at her causing her to brace herself against the Manfredis’ door to prevent from being bitten and attacked. In doing so, she claimed injuries to her neck, back, shoulders, wrists, hands, and ankles. And that the Manfredi’s had knowledge of the vicious propensity of the dog– and were strictly liable in tort, as well as negligence.

Continue reading

Was Residential Holdover Proceeding “For the Birds?”: Pigeon-Feeding Tenant Faced Eviction for “Nuisance”

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Pigeons are synonymous with New York City’s high-rise ecology. Pets to be fed by some. An annoyance to others. But, as a recent case illustrates, a pigeon-feeding tenant may face eviction if her conduct rises to the level of “nuisance.”

GSKP LLC filed a nuisance holdover proceeding seeking possession of unit no. 3 at 28 Bond Street from Margaret Lee. The premises were not subject to the Rent Stabilization Law or the Rent Control Law. The premises were rent-regulated pursuant to Article 7-C of the Multiple Dwelling Law. The Notice of Petition and Petition alleged that the term for which the premises were rented expired on November 30, 2018.

Continue reading

Did Siberian Husky “Charlie” Have Known Vicious Propensities? Postwoman’s Testimony May Have Dispositive Bite

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

Is every dog entitled to one bite? As a recent case illustrates, proof of prior canine misconduct is required to show vicious propensity. 

Suzanne Castelluccio was bitten on May 12, 2016, by a dog named “Charlie” in the driveway of 13 Kent Street in Rock Hill, New York, owned by Karen Hudson and Phillip Hudson. 

According to Karen Hudson, she and Castelluccio were traveling to Middletown when they stopped by the Hudson house in Rock Hill. Hudson exited the van and approached the chain-linked pen, which contained her Siberian husky, Charlie. The fence of the pen was approximately five feet high and extended to her garage. Hudson approached the gated pen, and Charlie jumped up with his front paws on the fence; she then went back toward the vehicle to retrieve her house keys. Castellucio saw Hudson pet the husky who asked for and was granted permission to pet Charlie. Hudson then proceeded from the van to her front door.

Continue reading

Does Gryffin belong to Shalloo or Zarrour? Court Decides Claims to Welsh Terrier Puppy

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

A dog may be wo/man’s best friend. But, when it comes to the law, a dog is a mere chattel or thing—possession of which is governed by the competing proofs in action for conversion.

Madison Shalloo sued Beleal Zarrour for the replevin of a dog on August 14, 2020. In her complaint, Shalloo alleged she was in a relationship with Zarrour. They shared an apartment in Long Island City from November 30, 2017, to January 10, 2020. In April 2018, they agreed to purchase a dog together. Shalloo located and was the contact person with the breeder. On July 2, 2018, they purchased a Welsh Terrier puppy named Gryffin Shalloo. And she reimbursed Zarrour for one-half of the cost of Gryffin.

Continue reading

Dog Spooked in Veterinary Clinic Waiting Room & Cat Owner Injured

This was originally posted on the SGR Blog.

New York Court of Appeals Decides If Clinic Has Liability (On 10/22)

Palmer Veterinary Clinic, PC treated Vanilla, a dog, for a paw injury at its clinic. That same day, Marsha Hewitt brought her cat to the clinic for an examination. As Hewitt waited in the reception area, a veterinarian returned Vanilla to her owner in the waiting room; the dog had just undergone a medical procedure to remove a broken toenail. At some point after the veterinarian handed Vanilla’s leash back to her owner, Vanilla saw Hewitt’s cat in its carrier, slipped her collar and—in an apparent attempt to reach the cat—jumped at Hewitt from behind, grabbing her ponytail.

Several months later, Hewitt sued Palmer, alleging that she suffered injuries as a result of the incident. And alleged that Palmer had a duty to provide a safe waiting room, that Palmer breached that duty by failing to exercise due care and by bringing an “agitated, distressed” dog into the waiting area, and that Palmer knew Vanilla had vicious propensities and was in an agitated and aggressive state. Palmer denied the allegations and asserting various affirmative defenses, including that the clinic was entitled to have any liability apportioned between itself and the dog’s owner.

Continue reading

Dog Chasing Cat Provokes Additional Insured/Vicious Propensities Imbroglio

This post originally appeared on the SGR Blog.

Scenario: Dog chases a cat. Guest gets caught in cable securing the dog. Dog owner and guest are significant others. Accident occurs at their former abode where he (but not she) then resides. Victim asserts claim on homeowners’ policy. Carrier disclaims. And (of course) litigation ensues.

Jo Ann Davis was injured on April 23, 2017 when visiting the house owned and occupied by Timothy Phillips at 11 East Avenue in Cortland. Davis fell after becoming entangled in the cable securing Phillips’s dog (Sam) just as the canine began to chase a cat.

Continue reading

Pet Owners Lose Legal “Dogfights” at the Fishkill Condominium

This was originally posted on the SGR blog.

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs. — Charles DeGaulle

Suits by the owners of two dogs in a residential condominium were recently dealt  “double header” appellate blows on their claims for breach of fiduciary duty against the Board of Managers and for defamation against the managing agent.

Kenneth Gottlieb and Terry Gottlieb own a condominium unit located within the Fishkill Woods Condominium. The Board of Managers of the Condominium is an unincorporated condominium association created for the purpose of governing the affairs of the Condominium. Peter Galotti was the president of the Board.

In two separate incidents that occurred in 2014 and 2015, two dogs owned by the Gottliebs allegedly attacked two neighbors on Condominium property. In February 2016, the Board commenced an action against the Gottliebs alleging that because of the incidents and complaints from other homeowners, the Board gave the Gottliebs written notice to remove the dogs from the Condominium community, in accordance with the Condominium’s declaration. The Board alleged that the Gottliebs failed to remove the dogs from the Condominium community and sought a judgment declaring that they were in violation of the declaration. The Board also sought an injunction compelling the Gottliebs to permanently remove the dogs from the Condominium community and an award of attorneys’ fees.

Continue reading

Canine Behavior Consultant Finds Pit Bull to be “Fear-Aggressive”—and Willing to “Attack and Fight”

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Alan and Lisa Johnson, husband and wife, sued for injuries Alan Johnson suffered when a dog owned by Kalpano Rao and Narayan Raj attacked Alan in an elevator in a residential condominium owned by Element Condominium and managed by Elliman Property Management. Rao and Raj owned and resided in condominium units in the building.

On May 30, 2011, Johnson, Raj, and his dog Ibiza boarded a public passenger elevator inside the building. Once inside, Johnson asked if he might pet Ibiza, to which Raj assented. Johnson lowered his hand to Ibiza to allow the dog to sniff him, and, after the dog appeared to accept Johnson’s hand, Johnson knelt down to face and pet the dog. After Johnson pet Ibiza, as Johnson was standing up, the dog barked at him, lunged at him, and bit his face, tearing off pieces of his nose and lip. Raj immediately pulled the dog away from Johnson, but not before he had suffered severe facial injuries that required plastic surgery.

Continue reading

Every Dog Will Have Its Day

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Virginia Hough filed a complaint with the State Division  of Human Rights against  1 Toms Point Lane Corporation , a residential cooperative,  alleging a violation of the New York State Human Rights Law.  Hough charged the co-op with discriminating against her on the basis of disability because she was not allowed to keep an emotional support dog in her apartment to help ameliorate her generalized anxiety disorder.

After a hearing, an administrative law judge made a recommendation and findings in favor of Hough. Toms Point was directed to cease and desist from enforcing against Hough any rules or policies prohibiting dogs and awarded Hough compensatory damages of $1,000 for mental anguish. The Commissioner of the Division adopted the  judges recommendation and findings. And the co-op filed a proceeding to review the Commissioner’s determination.  The Division cross-petitioned to enforce the order.

Continue reading