Category Archives: Animals

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Every Dog is Entitled to One Bite

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

On July 5, 2016, the Bakshis’ dog allegedly mauled a small dog owned by Felice Kobrick and bit the finger of Frances Drakes. The incident occurred in the street abutting the Bakshis’ property in Nassau County. A few days later, Kobrick’s dog was euthanized.

The Drakes sued the Bakshis to recover damages for personal injuries. The Bakshis moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Supreme Court granted the motion.

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It’s A Dog’s Life

This was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Westchester Plaza Holdings, LLC filed a summary holdover proceeding to evict Gertrude Sherwood and her son, Sheldon Sherwood, on the ground that they had failed to cure their violation of the no-pet clause in the parties’ lease. Specifically, Westchester Plaza claimed that  the Sherwoods had violated their lease by harboring a dog without landlord’s permission. and sought a final judgment of possession of their rental apartment. Gertrude did not appear in the action. Sheldon appeared and asserted that the dog was an emotional support animal entitling him to keep  the pet in the apartment under the State’s Human Rights Law.

A non-jury trial was held before the Court. Westchester Plaza called Jana Schmidt, its in-house counsel, who testified that she was informed sometime in late February or March of  2019 that the Sherwoods were harboring a dog in the apartment in contravention of the parties’ lease. Schmidt further testified that, after being informed of the dog in the apartment, she directed her staff to investigate. She also testified that she was informed by her staff that visual observation and video confirmed that a dog was being harbored in the apartment by the Sherwoods. Schmidt further testified that neither  of them asked for permission to have a dog in their apartment.

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What’s Sauce for the Goose…

This post was originally published on the SGR Blog.

Julianne Allen sued her neighbors Jennifer and John Powers claiming that their two German Shepherds barked incessantly. The dogs’ constant barking at all hours allegedly interfered with Allen’s right to quiet use and enjoyment of her property. The Powers denied the allegations and asserted a counterclaim contending that Allen had repeatedly called municipal authorities with specious complaints in prolonged efforts to make them move or have their landlord, David Bosko, evict them.

Allen asked the Court to dismiss the counterclaim for failing to state a cause of action. Allen argued that the Powers’ allegations sounded like a claim for harassment— and New York does not recognize such a cause of action.

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Who Let the (Cat) Out?

This post originally appeared on the SGR blog.

David Finn and his wife sued Ashlynn Anderson in Jamestown City Court for ownership/custody of a cat.

The Finns moved to Wescott Street in September of 2018. Around that time, they noticed a white cat frequently wandering onto their property looking for food. The cat was quite thin, and had no identification tags. They assumed that the four year old cat was a stray, named him “Sylvester”, and began feeding the cat in the entry-way of their home. The Finns fed Sylvester frequently for several months before bringing him into their house.

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New Yorkers own hundreds of thousands of cats, dogs, farm animals and other pets.  Thus, it is not surprising that accidents and injuries caused by animals are a fertile source of litigation.  Several recent examples follow.

Thompson v. Brown, 2018 NY Slip Op 08736, App. Div. 3rd Dept. (December 20, 2018)

In an action for negligence arising out of the escape of a bull owned by defendants, Supreme Court granted plaintiff’s motion to the extent of finding that plaintiff sustained a serious injury within the meaning of the insurance law.

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