Puppycide: Successful Lawsuits

Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Mike, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    My recollection is that there was a large puppycide judgement (close to a quarter $M) about a year ago in a Chicago case that was pursued as a federal civil rights matter, i.e. abuse under color of law.
  2. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach


    Judge Awards Woman $65,000 For Dog's Death
    Legal Expert Says Case Sets Precedent

    Posted: 04/19/2012
    Last Updated: 191 days ago
    A Denver woman whose dog was run over and killed while her home was being cleaned by a maid service has won her lawsuit against the cleaning company. Robin Lohre sued for negligence and emotional distress, claiming that the maid service allowed her dog to be hit by a car and then left her dog to die alone underneath a dining room table. The judge ruled in favor of Lohre and awarded her just over $65,000 for the death of her 18-month-old dog, Ruthie. The judge found the Denver-based cleaning company, Posh Maids, responsible for the dog's negligent death. This could be the largest court judgment for the death of a pet in Colorado, said Lohre's attorneys with the Animal Law Center. "The ruling sets a damages precedent that animals are worth more than their replacement value," said Jennifer Edwards, attorney and founder of The Animal Law Center. "When we lose a pet, we do suffer emotional distress and heartache, just as we would with any other member of our families." "I am pleased with the court’s decision," said Lohre. "It doesn’t bring back Ruthie, but it does acknowledge the loss that my daughter and I experienced." Lohre said Ruthie was like a younger sister to her daughter, Imogene. "She was just a constant source of joy and love and silliness," she said. Lohre said she hired Posh Maids for a three-hour cleaning of her home on Aug. 17. When a worker arrived, Lohre asked if it would be OK if the family dog, Ruthie, remained in the home while the worker cleaned. The maid said the dog could stay, even after Lohre offered to take Ruthie with her, according to Lohre's attorney. Before she left, Lohre said she instructed the employee that the dog should not be let out of the house and if the worker needed to leave the house before Lohre returned, she would have to exit the back door, which opens to an enclosed mudroom with an external door.
    Lohre explained that if Ruthie were to follow the maid through the back door, the maid could put Ruthie back into the house, close the door and leave through the mudroom. Lohre left to run errands with her 6-year-old daughter, and about 2 1/2 hours later, she received a call from the owner of Posh Maids, telling her that the cleaning was complete ahead of schedule because additional Posh Maid employees had arrived at the home to help. When Lohre and her daughter returned to the home, they found Ruthie dead underneath their dining room table. When she called Posh Maids, Lohre was told that Ruthie had been struck by a car and then ran back home. The maids claimed that at the time they left, the dog was alive and "whimpering a little." The employees never attempted to report the accident to Lohre or take the dog to an emergency vet, according to the Animal Law Center. "The most egregious aspect of this case is that the employees left Ruthie to suffer and die alone underneath a table and did nothing to inform Lohre or take the dog to a vet," Edwards said. Edwards said Lohre gave specific instructions that would have prevented what this maid service said happened. Last October, the owner of the maid service told 7NEWS she was trying to get a hold of Lohre when she returned to the home and that is why a vet wasn't notified. She said after the dog was hit by the car, it ran back into the house, crawled under the dining room table and growled at the maids when they tried to approach it. "That's when I made the decision to have the maids leave the house because, if we ever have an aggressive dog situation, then we ask them to leave the house," Posh Maids owner Miranda Pallone said at the time. Pallone said Lohre wrote a letter to her asking for $25,000. Pallone said that much money could put her out of business. "So, I offered her $2,000. My lawyer advised against me offering that to her, but I did offer it to her and it wasn't enough, so here we are," Pallone said, when the lawsuit was announced. Lohre said Pallone is not telling the truth. "My phone records indicate that she did not call me (after the accident) and I had to call her," Lohre said. When asked if Pallone offered to settle the case, Lohre said, "No, she did not." The homeowner said Pallone failed to take responsibility for Ruthie's death and for the lawsuit. "She didn't show up for the court hearings," Lohre said. "She ignored the lawsuit." The judge entered a default judgement against Pallone in the amount of $65,118 plus interest. When 7NEWS contacted Pallone to ask why she failed to appear, reporter Lance Hernandez was told, "No comment." Edwards said she and her client will now seek to have the judgement enforced. "It wasn't really about the money," Lohre said. "It was about taking responsibility."
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    "Legal expert says case sets precedent" is bull:poop:.

    Default judgements for no-shows aren't much of a precedent.
  4. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    I'd like to find a way to communicate to owners of puppycides about successful lawsuits to recover significant damages.

    If you know of/can find any, please paste in link & article, one thread per successful lawsuit.

    If you'd like to help long-term with the printing & mailing as incidents happen, please post a response to this thread. It might be organized as a non-profit, or might just be kept informal.

    Right now I'm mostly interested in seeing what kind of information base we can put together.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    There's a web site on the subject (Animal Legal Defense Fund -- aldf.org) but its focus is too broad for our purposes. Here's an excerpt:

    Recovery of Damages in Civil Lawsuits

    If someone has injured or killed your animal companion, you may be entitled to damages regardless of whether the animal was injured or killed on purpose or accidentally so long as the conduct was at least negligent. When an animal is injured or killed, you are generally entitled to compensation for the “market value” of the animal, veterinary bills and possibly punitive damages, mental anguish and loss of companionship. What compensation is available depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of each case, and differs significantly from state to state.​

    A growing number of lawyers specialize in cases involving animals, and some of them may be willing to handle the case. However, people often mistakenly assume that when their animal is injured or killed they need the help of an attorney who specializes in animal-related cases. When someone kills or injures your animal, the law primarily (although not exclusively) sees this as an injury to property. A lawyer who specializes in personal injuries or injury to property (called “torts” in the law) should be able to handle the case. However, due to the limited potential for recovery of damages it is possible to pay more for an attorney’s services than you are likely to recover if you win your case, barring an award for punitive or emotional distress damages.​

    Their focus for this of the three options they present is normal civil torts.

    We're looking at abuses by police officers, where you can view it not only as simple civil torts (where recovery might be limited to the dog's cash "value") but also as civil rights issues.

    Still would be a good idea to mine their site for info. :)
  6. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Copy of appellate decision courtesy Courthouse News Service

    Court Prunes Judgment Against Dog Batterer

    SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A man who struck his neighbors' dog with a baseball bat persuaded a California appeals court to rein in a $430,000 emotional distress award.
    Set in the upscale coastal community of Laguna Niguel, the feud between the Plotniks and the Meihauses played out like a modern-day telling of the Hatfields and the McCoys.
    David and Joyce Plotnik said the trouble began when they moved next door to John Meihaus in 2003 and built a 6-foot fence along the common boundary between their properties.
    In 2007, the Plotniks settled an ensuing lawsuit by agreeing to move the fence back 3 feet. The settlement, which released both families from further claims, included a mutual restraint provision as well as a clause that prohibited both families from slandering the other publicly.
    But the Plotniks allegedly began finding trash and yard clippings dumped on their side of the fence. They claimed Meihaus often flipped them off when he was out jogging.
    Joyce Plotnik said Meihaus intimidated her one day at the community pool by sitting across from her and staring at her for 20 minutes. Meihaus denied all of these incidents, but did admit to warning the Plotniks to not "let your dog piss on other people's lawns."
    Things came to a head in 2009 when David Plotnik went out to photograph more yard clippings dumped over the fence. He said he opened the rear gate and his miniature Pinscher named Romeo ran into the Meihaus yard. He heard Romeo bark and then squeal, and then saw Romeo "rolling down the slope through the open gate and hit a tree. Plotnik went through the gate and saw Meihaus holding a bat, returning to his house."
    When Plotnik confronted Meihaus, he said Meihaus told him to "be more courteous and get your dogs to stop barking." Meihaus claimed he used the bat to "guide" Romeo back to the Plotnik yard.
    Later that day, Meihaus' sons John III and Greg called Plotnik "punk (expletive deleted) bitch" and "fatty," and threatened to "kick [his] (expletive deleted)" and "kill" him. They also asked: "Why don't you suck my dick."
    The Meihaus sons acknowledged the incident, but claimed Plotnik insulted them as well. Leg surgery for Romeo cost the Plotniks $2,600.
    When the Plotniks sued, Meihaus responded with his own breach of contract claim for violating the earlier settlement. A jury awarded David Plotnik a total of $175,600 for a variety of claims, including actual damages, emotional distress, assault and trespass; the same jury handed Joyce Plotnik $255,210.
    Meihaus moved for a new trial claiming the damage awards were excessive, but Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Fell reduced the total by $80,000 after the Plotniks accepted a remittitur.
    On Friday, however, California's Fourth Appellate District said the award was still too high.
    "The Meihaus brothers aggressively approached Plotnik and threatened to both beat and kill him and the family dog," Judge William Rylaarsdam wrote for three-member panel. "But Plotnik did not testify that either brother displayed a weapon, took a swing at him, or otherwise attempted to touch him."
    "The brothers' actions and words were aggressive and threatening, and while their behavior might support relief on some other ground, neither committed an act that could or was 'inten[ded] ... to inflict immediate injury on' Plotnik," the judge added, citing case law.
    Rylaarsdam also rejected claims that Meihaus hit Romeo in self-defense.
    While the Plotniks can recover economic and emotional damages out of the assault on Romeo, there is no basis for negligence and emotional distress awards.
    "The damages awarded to plaintiffs for negligent infliction of emotional distress are not identical to the sums they recovered for breach of the settlement agreement," Rylaarsdam wrote. "But the duty underlying each cause of action is identical and we see no basis for distinguishing between the emotional distress plaintiffs suffered because of Meihaus's breach of the settlement and his liability in tort for negligent infliction of emotional distress."
    The emotional distress awards are "duplicative," according to the ruling.
    "While Meihaus's vexatious conduct and his injuring of Romeo might entitle plaintiffs to recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress, we have already upheld plaintiffs' recovery on these grounds by affirming the contract and trespass to personal property verdicts," Rylaarsdam wrote. "Allowing recovery for the same conduct here would amount to double recovery. Consequently, we reverse the damage awards both plaintiffs recovered against Meihaus for intentional infliction of emotional distress."
    Meihaus cannot get a new trial.
    "In light of our limiting plaintiffs' recovery to the damages awarded for breach of contract, trespass to personal property for injuring Romeo, negligence concerning the fence, and David Plotnik's emotional distress claim against Greg Meihaus and John Meihaus III, the concern over a duplicative damage award has been eliminated," Rylaarsdam wrote.
    The Plotniks will go home with just over $160,000, a $270,000 reduction.
  7. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

  8. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach


    Posted at 1:02 PM ET, 01/24/2011
    Settlement in Md. town mayor's lawsuit
    By Ruben Castaneda
    Attorneys for Prince George's County on Monday settled a lawsuit brought by Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo that accused deputies from a county sheriff's SWAT unit of storming into his home without a proper warrant the day they shot his family's two dogs and held him at gunpoint.
    The civil trial was scheduled to begin Monday in Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro.
    Calvo said he could not comment on the amount or other details of the settlement, which are being worked out.
    However, he did say that the settlement will include reforms in the way county law enforcement officers conduct such operations. The reforms will involve such issues as how and when SWAT teams are deployed and the humane treatment of pets.
    "We're achieving reforms we were seeking," Calvo said.
    A county spokeswoman said she would check with County Executive Rushern L. Baker III to see whether he wished to comment.
    Sheriff's SWAT officers raided Calvo's home July 29, 2008, at the request of county police narcotics investigators. A police dog at a shipping facility in Arizona alerted to a package addressed to Trinity Tomsic, Calvo's wife. County police intercepted the package, which they said contained marijuana, and delivered it to Calvo's porch. Police stormed in after Calvo, who had been out walking his dogs, picked up the package and brought it inside.
    SWAT deputies shot and killed the family's two black Labradors, Payton and Chase, and forced Calvo to kneel on the ground with his hands bound.
    It turned out that neither Tomsic nor Calvo had any connection to the package of marijuana.
    Payton and Chase never tried to attack any of the invading deputies, and at least one of the dogs was shot as he was trying to run away, Calvo said.
    According to the lawsuit, sheriff's deputies failed to "knock and announce" their presence before storming the house. The lawsuit also alleged that the sheriff's department had no protocols regarding when to use force if pets are in a household, and that county law enforcement officers use such warrants unnecessarily.
    An internal sheriff's investigation found no wrongdoing by the deputies. Then-Sheriff Michael A. Jackson said the deputies "did their jobs to the fullest extent of their abilities."
    In an opinion article he wrote for The Washington Post, Calvo said the event -- and the findings of the sheriff's investigation -- were "business as usual" for county law enforcement officers.
    The county Sheriff's Department is responsible for security at the courthouses in Upper Marlboro and Hyattsville. It uses Labradors, including black Labs, as police dogs in those buildings.
    The dogs are trained to sniff out drugs and other contraband. Canine officers have said Labradors are also good to use in a courthouse because they are particularly friendly around people.
  9. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    sounds like the Plotniks are communist.
  10. Great idea, Mike. Reason has written a lot about this over the years... if I get a chance I'll look and see if they have anything.
  11. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Great resources. Thanks for getting this out there Mike. People don't just have to take this, apparently.
  12. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Thanks to Rugape ...


    Family gets $333,000 for 2009 raid in which cops killed dog
    August 19, 2011|By David Heinzmann, Tribune reporter
    A federal jury awarded $333,000 to a Chicago family Thursday after Chicago police officers raided its South Side home with guns drawn and shot its dog in a search that found no criminal activity in the apartment.
    Teenage brothers Thomas and Darren Russell were in their second-floor apartment in the 9200 block of South Justine Street in February 2009 when officers announced they had a warrant to search both units of the two-flat. Thomas Russell, then 18, opened the door and found officers with their guns drawn, according to the lawsuit. Russell said that he put his hands in the air and asked permission to lock up his 9-year-old black Labrador, Lady, before they entered.

    Police refused the request and came into the house, the lawsuit said. When Lady came loping around the corner with her tail wagging, Officer Richard Antonsen shot the dog, according to the suit, which alleged excessive force, false arrest and illegal seizure for taking the dog's life.
    Thomas Russell was arrested and charged with obstructing police but was later found not guilty. No drugs were found in the Russell family's apartment, though police recovered drugs in the building's other unit, the family's lawyers said.
    "Darren and Thomas did everything right that night," said Amanda Antholt, one of the family's lawyers. "They were cooperating with the officers and were met with guns to their heads and the shooting death of their family dog."
    Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city's Law Department, said: "The officers involved in this case were executing a valid search warrant when this incident occurred and were simply protecting themselves. We are extremely disappointed and reviewing all of our options. In particular, we think the damages awarded to the plaintiffs were excessive."
    The jury awarded Thomas Russell $175,000, Darren Russell $85,000 and their parents $35,000 each. The jury also awarded the family $2,000 in punitive damages, levied against Antonsen for shooting the dog, and $1,000, against the police supervisor who made the decision to arrest Thomas Russell
    Rugape likes this.
  13. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

  14. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    Here's a horrible incident. I wonder if these homeless people are able to mount a civil case. It seems pretty difficult under their circumstances.

  15. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach


    A couple more successes:

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held in a 1994 case that police violated the rights of a Northern California family when officers shot the family dog. The family eventually received nearly $100,000.
    A 1998 case out of San Jose, Calif., found that police violated the rights of members of the local chapter of the Hells Angels when they shot and killed three dogs while serving a search warrant during a murder investigation. Nearly $1 million was awarded to the chapter in a settlement.
    Rugape likes this.
  16. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member


    I'm confident these people will win, and their dog isn't even dead.

    Rugape likes this.

Share This Page