Archive for the ‘Sanctions’ Category

Bite Worse Than the Bark – Whether Adopter of Dog Reasonably Relied on Representation of Shelter is a Jury Issue (NY)

June 2, 2015

 

Lawrence v. North Country Animal Control Center, Inc. (New York)

Plaintiffs adopted a basset hound named Brutus from the defendant facility, a not-for-profit animal shelter.  Less than a month later, the dog attacked one of plaintiffs’ other dogs.  One of the plaintiffs was able to separate the animals, but Brutus attacked the plaintiff during the altercation, causing severe injuries to both of his arms.  An employee of the defendant facility removed the dog from the plaintiffs’ home on the same day.  The defendant facility thereafter refused to return the dog to the plaintiffs and sent the dog to a rescue organization out of state.  Plaintiffs tracked down Brutus’ prior owner, who claimed that about a month prior to the adoption, Brutus had been turned over to the defendant facility “to be euthanized because he had attacked the owner and her child.”

Plaintiffs filed an action against the defendant facility and its employee, alleging causes of action for, among other things, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, products liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  The defendants moved for summary judgment, and plaintiffs cross-moved to amend the complaint and for summary judgment on their claim for intentional spoliation (the defendant facility did not produce Brutus and did not know its current whereabouts).  The trial court granted the cross-motion to amend, denied plaintiffs’ cross motion for summary judgment, and treated the claim for spoliation as a request for sanctions.  However, the trial court ruled (without prejudice to raise the issue again upon completion of discovery) that it was not imposing sanctions in connection with the defendants failure to produce the dog.  The trial court further partially granted the defendants’ motion, dismissing the products liability claim and one other cause of action.  The plaintiffs and defendants both appealed. (more…)