A state appeals court has upheld a California jury’s verdict requiring a man who struck a neighbor’s miniature Pinscher with a baseball bat to pay the dog’s owners $50,000 for emotional distress.
In what’s being described as the first ruling of its kind in California, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana said someone who deliberately injures or kills another person’s pet must — even though dogs are considered property — compensate the owner for emotional distress.
The ruling quoted an 1889 California Supreme Court ruling in which the justices observed that “there are no other domestic animals to which the owner or his family can become more keenly attached” than dogs.
The ruling upheld $52,800 in damages — $2,800 of it for medical bills — against John Meihaus, who struck his neighbors’ 12-inch-tall, 15-pound miniature pinscher, Romeo, with a baseball bat, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Meihaus’ next-door neighbor in Laguna Niguel, David Plotnik accidentally let Romeo enter Meihaus’ backyard, and later heard a squeal and saw Romeo stumble. He said Meihaus, who was holding a baseball bat, told him Romeo had been barking and growling at him, but denied striking the dog.
A jury ordered Meihaus to pay for a $2,600 operation to repair Romeo’s right rear leg and a $209 stroller the dog needed to get around while he recovered. It also awarded $50,000 to Plotnik and his wife, Joyce, for emotional distress.
Meihaus appealed the original verdict, but the appeals court upheld it. His lawyer said he may appeal the latest ruling to the state Supreme Court.
Donna Bader, the Plotniks’ lawyer, said the court recognized that people value their pets and suffer when they are harmed. “Every time your dog is in pain, I think it causes the homeowner pain,” she said.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, appeals, award, baseball bat, california, court, cruelty, dog, dogs, emotional distress, feud, jury, laguna niguel, min pin, miniature, miniature pinscher, neighbors, pets, pinscher, romeo, upheld, verdict
Closing arguments were made today and the jury deliberated for less than an hour before pronouncing the brothers not guilty of a crime that led the city to reexamine and strengthen its animal welfare laws and procedures.
Phoenix — the name the dog was given after her rescue — was euthanized days after she was found, on fire, by a Baltimore police officer.
The first trial for the Johnson brothers ended in a hung jury in February 2011.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein issued the following statement after the verdict:
“While I respect the jury’s decision, I am disappointed we didn’t achieve the outcome that we fought for during two challenging trials. Animal cruelty is a serious crime of violence, and those who commit it too frequently commit subsequent crimes of violence against humans. As we demonstrated in this case, we are dedicated to vigorously prosecuting individuals accused of this appalling offense.”
Defense attorneys for the Johnsons focused their defense on whether police mishandled the investigation and some of the evidence.
Craig Beyler, a fire protection engineer, called to the stand as an expert, testified that police mishandled clothing seized from the Johnsons’ South Baltimore home by mixing two pairs of jeans and a pair of sneakers in one bag. The clothing contained traces of an ignitable substance that could not be identified, but Beyler said it could have been a common chemical used in sneakers that might have transferred from the shoes to the jeans.
Prosecutors’ arguments linking the brothers to the burning centered mainly on a police surveillance video recorded from atop a pole near the crime scene.
No DNA, fingerprints or other forensic evidence connected the suspects to the crime.
A police sergeant identified the brothers in the video, in which two young men can be seen walking the dog minutes before the burning, and running away from the scene afterwards. A bystander, Tiera Goodman, told police soon after the incident she too saw the brothers run from the scene.
But Goodman refused to testify in the retrial. A video of her testimony from the first trial was played instead.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, brothers, burned, burning, cruelty to animals, died, dogs, doused, euthanized, Gregg Bernstein, johnson, killed, not guilty, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, retrial, set on fire, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial, verdict
Nico Dauphiné, the National Zoo researcher accused of poisoning feral cats in the D.C. neighborhood of Meridian Hill Park, was convicted of animal cruelty charges yesterday.
DCist reports that Dauphiné, who denied the allegations in court last week, was pronounced guilty of the misdemeanor charge by D.C. Superior Court Judge Truman Morrison. She will be sentenced on November 21 and faces up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Evidence in the case included a video of Dauphiné appearing to plant something from her purse into a feeder.
“Our Humane Law Enforcement Department works hard to bring justice to abused animals in our city, and we can say with confidence that justice was served today,” said Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of the Washington Humane Society, which played a large role in the investigation of the claims.
In a press release, Alley Cat Allies, a national advocacy organization dedicated to the humane treatment of cats, welcomed the verdict and called for Dauphiné to be dismissed from her job as a Smithsonian researcher studying migratory birds.
“We are satisfied with this verdict,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “Americans care about cats and will not tolerate cruelty towards them. We are grateful to law enforcement and to the prosecutors for treating this crime with the seriousness it deserved.”
“We call on the Smithsonian to immediately dismiss Ms. Dauphiné from her position and cancel any research projects in which she was involved,” said Robinson. “Her conviction for attempting to kill cats, along with her history of condemning cats in research, leaves her work suspect of major bias. Her work should be discredited and disregarded by the scientific community.”
“Killing cats is illegal, and feral cats are protected under the law,” she added. “Anti-cruelty laws protect all cats — pet, stray, or feral — in every state and the District of Columbia. Americans who are demanding humane approaches for cats are not going to allow this kind of cruelty to go unpunished.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alley cat allies, animal cruelty, cats, cruelty to animals, feral cats, guilty, migratory birds, misdemeanor, national zoo, nico daupine, poisoning, researcher, smithsonian, strays, verdict, washington humane society
The trial of Travers and Tremayne Johnson ended in a mistrial tonight.
Jurors were unable to come to an agreement about the brothers’ guilt or innocence on any of the four animal cruelty charges against the twins accused in the 2009 fatal burning of a dog nicknamed Phoenix.
The brothers, the Baltimore Sun reported, smiled as the result was read about 6:30 p.m., after a third day of jury deliberation.
Phoenix’s death outraged animal activists nationwide, who collectively donated thousands to find the dog’s attackers, and led to the creation of an Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force. The commission’s report found the city’s response to animal abuse was lacking — a finding the trial of the brothers seemed to reinforce.
Defense attorneys repeatedly pointed out the flaws in the investigation that followed the May 27, 2009 incident.
The dog had been doused with accelerant and lit on fire, burning until a police officer ran from her car and smothered the flames with her sweater.
But according to testimony, the crime scene was never secured, photographed or otherwise documented and it wasn’t assigned to police investigators for a week.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, burned, burning, cruelty, dog, dogs, fire, johnson brothers, jurors, jury, mistrial, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pitbull, torture, travers johnson, treymane johnson, trial, twins, verdict
A jury has found the former owner of Pennsylvania’s Almost Heaven kennel guilty on several counts of animal cruelty.
Derbe “Skip” Eckhart was cleared on a number of other charges.
The jury, which began deliberating Monday afternoon, returned to the judge’s chamber twice and came back with a partial verdict just before 6 p.m.
Out of 13 total counts, Eckhart was found guilty of only four, WFMZ reported. Two of those were for animal cruelty; two were for license violations.
The jury found him not guilty on four other counts and could not make a decision on five more.
“We respect the jury, but we’re not satisfied,” said Eckhart defense attorney Jeff Conrad, when asked about the verdict. “We wanted a full acquittal.”
Prosecutors said Eckhart neglected hundreds of animals and kept them in deplorable conditions inside his Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County kennel. Eckhart and his attorney claimed the former kennel owner was well-intentioned, but got in over his head, and that televised raids which led to the trial were a ploy by overzealous animal law enforcement officials.
Eckhart’s sentencing is scheduled for May 18.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 30th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: almost heaven, animal cruelty, animals, convicted, counts, derbe, dogs, eckart, guilty, jury, kennel, lehigh county, news, ohmidog!, pennsylania, pets, raids, sentencing, skip, trial, verdict
His own dog’s DNA helped convict a reputed gang member in south London of the murder of a 16-year-old.
Oluwaseyi Ogunyemi was killed in a “vicious” attack by a gang of youths who set upon him and his friends with their dogs. One of the dogs, a Staffordshire bull terrier-bull mastiff cross called Tyson, brought Ogunyemi down as he tried to climb over a fence, after which the youth was stabbed six times by its owner Chrisdian Johnson.
Johnson was arrested as he fled the scene of the murder last April, bare-chested and covered in blood.
New DNA technology proved by a billion-to-one probability that some of the blood on Johnson came from his dog Tyson, who had been knifed during the fighting. The rest came from Ogunyemi.
Johnson was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Seyi’s 17-year-old friend Hurui Hiyabum, whom he stabbed nine times.
Scientists used DNA profiling to prove that samples collected during the investigation were a billion times more likely to come from two specific dogs involved in the attack than any other animals, the BBC reported.
Police hailed the dog DNA technology, which had just been developed at the time of the murder, as a “hugely powerful investigative tool”.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal, attack, beating, chrisdian johnson, convicted, courts, crime, dna, dogs, gang, gangs, guilty, investigation, law, london, mauling, member, murder, news, oluwaseyi ogunyemi, pets, pit bulls, stabbing, technology, tyson, verdict