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.
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.
Litigation with respect to dogs and cats is an unending source of amazement. Several recent examples follow:
People v. Cherry (Frankie), 2017 NY slip Op 27284, App. Div. 2d Dept. (August 25, 2017)
City Court summarized the pleadings:
Defendant was charged, as follows, with violating Agriculture and Markets Law § 353:
The deponent states that, at the above time and place, deponent observed two pit bulls in the backyard of defendant’s residence, that deponent observed said dogs to have sores on the pelvic area, extremely emaciated, prominent ribs, spine, pelvic bones, exaggerated hour glass torsos, and food and water bowls to be empty and rusted.
During the past several months our courts, at all levels, have issued a vast and unusual number of decisions relating to the “vicious propensities” of dogs; canine “custody disputes; animal and pet related claims of negligence; and the “three month rule”.
RPDG, LLC v. Kuravsky, 2016 NY Slip Op 50791(U) [App. T. 2d Dept. May 12, 2016]
Appellate Term summarily affirmed, as follows, the judgment of Civil Court, after a bench trial, dismissing the petition:
In this holdover proceeding predicated, . . . on a claim that tenant, Alexander Kuravsky, violated his lease by harboring a dog without landlord’s consent, the Civil Court dismissed the petition after a nonjury trial, finding that landlord’s failure to commence the proceeding within three months of learning of the dog’s presence in the subject apartment constituted a waiver of landlord’s right to enforce the no-pet provision of the lease [ ].
Colombini v. Benitez, 2016 NY Slip Op 31829(u) [Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. September 30, 2016] Continue reading
You may have noticed that I am inexplicably captivated and fascinated by the constant stream of trial court proceedings and appeals involving cats, dogs and other animals. [See, The Bark Goes On (2/2/14); and Legal “Horse” And Other Tales (2/1/15)].
In recent months there has been an outburst of decisions relating to animals from both the Court of Appeals and the several Appellate Divisions:
Doeer v. Goldsmith, 2015 NY Slip Op 04752 (Court of Appeals) [decided on June 9, 2015] was a summary (four-judge) decision with a three-judge concurring opinion and two dissents (by three judges).
Doeer was the fourth time in recent years that the Court of Appeals has addressed the duty of care with respect to pets and animals.